Unless you’ve got a connection at ICANN, the organization responsible for managing the creation of domain names, you’ll be buying your domain name from a “Domain Name Registrar,” a company accredited by ICANN to sell domain names.
You can buy your domain name from any one of these registrars, and it will work the same. The only thing separating these companies from each other is their service’s ease of use and the other features they include with the domain, such as email service, WhoIs protection, as well as the quality of their nameservers.
Google Domains is a simple, no hassle registrar. It rocks Google’s sleek design, combined with great DNS tools and industry-leading security. Most people looking for a domain also want email to go alongside it, and Google Domains will integrate well with your existing G Suite subscription. Note that this does require you to pay for Google’s premium email service; it won’t work with a standard Gmail account.
Their search function is pretty basic but doesn’t get in your way. If you know what you’re looking for, it might be right for you.
Their pricing is pretty average, but if you’re looking to get your website up quickly without any mess, Google is probably your best bet.
Hover: Great Search Tools and Suggestions
Hover is a simple registrar, offering average prices and good service. Where Hover shines are their suggestions, showing similar domains with different styles and synonyms to help you narrow down the domain you want. Their search page has a useful sidebar with different categories and filters for different extensions.
Here, we searched for the domain “cookiesbygrandma.com,” which was taken. Hover automatically suggested a list of domains similar enough to our search term that we might be alright with those instead. If you’re not sure exactly what domain you want, you should try searching around on Hover.
Their .com domains start at $12.99 per year, and they offer email forwarding at $5 per year, plus free WhoIs privacy on top of it.
GoDaddy: Domains and Hosting, Higher Prices
GoDaddy is a great option if you want web hosting along with your domain, or want it all to be managed under the same umbrella. Generally, it’s ideal to keep your domain separate from your hosting provider in case you’d like to switch to a different provider at some point. But GoDaddy is a domain registrar first and a web hosting company second, so you can always transfer the domain to a different registrar or change the DNS to point to a new host.
GoDaddy offers great hosting services, a custom website builder, and managed WordPress hosting, along with many templates to help you get started. They’re a little pricey, and their web host can be a bit clunky for anything complex, but if you’re building a simple website it’ll do the job.
GoDaddy’s prices seem low at first, but they go up after the first year. At full price, their .com domains are $15 per year, but it’s the price you pay for being on the largest domain registrar.
NameCheap: Cheap Prices, Decent Service
NameCheap is as cheap as the name suggests. They offer great deals starting at just $8.88 for most .com domains, with some more obscure extensions even being under a dollar. Their DNS isn’t bad either, offering free WhoIs protection and a robust DNS provider that’s easy to manage and transfer.
They have a “bulk search” option that lets you search up to 50 domain names at once, so if you have a whole list of ideas, you can enter them all in, see which ones might be taken, and check the prices for different TLDs.
They do offer managed WordPress hosting through EasyWP, though it’s probably best to go with a better WordPress provider and forward the domain to that site.