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Top 5 Best Domain Name Registrars in 2021

Having a domain name is similar to owning a portion of the digital real estate. Get a unique domain name that speaks for your brand by using one of these top-rated registrars.

Reasons to look for a good domain name registrar

Setting up a website is imperative to your business. But, it can be quite challenging if you consider all the things you’ll need to do. You’ll need to have a distinct selling point, a vision that resonates with large audiences, and a lot of gusto.

One other thing you’ll need is a domain. Luckily, the process of getting a domain name has become much easier, thanks to the streamlined services offered by registrars. So in the following post, we’ll highlight the best and cheapest domain registrars.

What is a domain registrar?

If you’re new to the world of website development, you might be wondering what a domain name is, and why you need a domain registrar.

Well, the easiest way to understand what a domain name is, is to think of it as a human-readable kind of an IP address for your website.

Simply put, it’s the term or word you key into a web browser so as to find a specific product or service website. It’s similar to how you would look for a contact in your phone book by manually typing the recipient’s phone number.

Domain names were invented to offer Internet users an easier means of navigating the online world.

Once you’ve decided what domain name to use for your website, the next step is to reserve it so that no other online business has access to it.  

This is where a domain registrar comes in handy. They’re platforms that deal in the sale and management of domain names. But before they can operate, these registrars have to receive approval from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (more on this later).

The biggest benefit of getting a domain name is that it gives your venture an online identity. It’s a way for you to stand out and showcase what your business does or offers to customers. So it’s important that you’re careful when picking the registrar to help you with this service.

Choosing the right domain registrar determines the kind of domain name you’ll get in the end. While you might not think much about it, a high quality domain name is very important to your brand. Here’s why:

Reach your target market

By getting a bespoke, and quality domain name, you’re able to relate directly with your customers. They get to know exactly what your business offers; whether it’s a product or service.

Better yet, it saves you from having to invest in other forms of advertising because your domain name already speaks for your enterprise.

Secure your brand

If you don’t purchase your preferred domain name, you risk another entity -most likely a competitor- stealing it from under your nose and using it to market themselves instead.

Even if you’re not certain that you’ll use the domain name for your enterprise, getting ownership of it is crucial.

Imagine how easy it is for a potential consumer to misspell your web’s address and type .co instead of .com. Now once they type the wrong address, they land on your competitor’s website thinking that it’s yours.

If you want to capture even those customers who misspell your web address, then get as many domains as you need to.  

Be memorable

Another reason why a good domain name matters is because it makes your brand memorable. To achieve this though, you should pick a domain name that is short and easy to remember.

Some website owners end up choosing very lengthy domains just so that they can incorporate certain keywords. Sure, using relevant keywords is smart. But this should not be done at the expense of domain length. If you want to be memorable, keep it short; preferably under 15 characters.

Boosts your business credibility

Having a domain name, especially one that communicates what you do- gives your business a sense of professionalism. It relays the message that you’re serious about what you do, and can be relied upon.

Improves your website’s visibility

Your website’s address has a huge impact on how often it appears on search engines. If you’re able to pick a domain name that showcases your services or products, then your website will be among the first that show up when consumers search related keywords.

This means investing in a good domain name is worth it because it drives more traffic to your site.

Long-term investment

Are you hesitant to invest in a good domain name because you think it’s an unnecessary investment? Think again. Better yet, compare this to the cost of traditional marketing.

Marketing your brand through newspapers, publications, TV and social media platforms is effective. But all these channels suffer from one problem: the minute you stop paying for them, the traffic decelerates or comes to a halt.

A domain is a one-time investment, and it’s sure to yield results for a long time to come. Sure, you’ll probably have to renew your domain at some point, but this cost is still cheaper than advertising on other platforms. And if you sign up with registrars like Network Solutions, you can enter into a 20-year+ domain contract.

Why you should keep your domain and web hosting separate

There are those who advocate getting your domain registration and web hosting services from the same provider, and understandably so. It saves you a few bucks as you’ll only have to pay for the entire bundle.

But while it saves you money, it’s a risky move and one that could cost you. Here are a few reasons why we recommend keeping your domain and web host separate.

It holds your web host or domain hostage

Before you sign up for a web host/domain bundle, read the fine print.

Often, you’ll find that once you terminate your hosting plan, you’ll have to pay more for your domain. In worst case scenarios, you may lose your domain altogether because the provider was offering it as a “bundle”.

By using different providers for your domain and hosting, you’re guaranteed that you won’t run into such problems.

Swift shift to a different web host provider

The fewer the commitments you have with a given provider, the easier it will be to switch to a new one.

Let’s say that you’re disappointed by the kind of web hosting services you’re getting. Perhaps you’re getting a ton of downtimes, minimal support from the provider or having to pay high fees for renewal.

If you’ve had enough, making the shift to a new web host will be easier if that’s the only service you’re forfeiting. But if your hosting services are bundled with your domain, this makes the shift a little more complicated.

Easier to manage multiple domains

Another reason that warrants getting a distinct domain registrar is if you’re looking to register multiple domains.

Imagine having different web hosts for each of your domains. You’d have a pretty difficult time trying to navigate each platform. To make your work easy, just pick a single domain registrar that will let you manage all your domains from one central location.

Distinct security protocols 

Most companies prefer to concentrate on just one service, that is, either domain registration or web hosting. This is very reasonable as it allows the providers to offer the best in what they specialize in.

This then means that if you want cutting edge domain registration services, you’re better off dealing with a specialized firm. Now we’re not saying that companies that offer these services as a package are inferior. However, the safest thing to do is to go with different providers.

Best with complementary products

Domain.com Domain Name Registrar

Domain.com Domain Name Registrar

Domain.com is good at offering a one-stop shop for all your website needs; from a domain name to web hosting, and email accounts.

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Domain.com is our favorite domain registrar for several reasons. But its most outstanding feature is the fact that it offers a variety of website-related services for an unbeatable price. Whether you’re interested in getting a domain name, or need web hosting services as well, this platform offers cheap rates all-round.

This makes the registrar ideal for individuals who want multiple domains or a one-stop shop for all their website needs. That said, the company has too many upsells. We were also not impressed by the fact that you have to pay extra to get domain privacy.

Best on a budget

Namecheap Domain Name Registrar

Namecheap Domain Name Registrar

Namecheap offers the cheapest domain registration services. Its web hosting plans and email accounts are also much cheaper than what other providers offer.

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If you don’t want to break the bank when getting a domain registrar, Namecheap is yet another affordable provider. The platform offers several extensions that go for less than $6.00. They also have a number of popular extensions that are fairly priced. For instance, their .com extension currently goes for $9.48 a year.

Another thing you’ll love about Namecheap is that it has a very user-friendly interface. You can look for a particular domain or search in batches of up to 50. Moreover, you get to decide whether you want an automatic renewal or not.

One area where the registrar can make improvements is in customer support. Offering a direct phone line is imperative to customers, so the fact that it lacks this feature is a little disappointing.

Best for advanced domain features

Bluehost Domain Name Registrar

Bluehost Domain Name Registrar

Bluehost offers a wide array of domain-related features, such as domain forwarding and transfer lock.

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For website owners who want the best domain features, Bluehost is your best bet. This registrar gives you access to features that you otherwise wouldn’t have.

The domain lock is a good example of this. This lets you secure a domain name that you’re interested in so that third parties don’t get a chance to transfer or steal it. There’s also a domain forwarding feature, offering convenience to those who own multiple websites.

Bluehost’s 30-day grace period is the icing on the cake. It means that once your domain expires, you’ll still have a month to pay the renewal fee and avoid losing your domain.

Unfortunately,this registrar has a very high price tag for its domain privacy. This can be a huge setback if you don’t have enough money to pay for this privacy.

Best for long-term domains

Network Solutions Domain Name Registrar

Network Solutions Domain Name Registrar

The registrar lets you hold onto your domain for an extended period of time; up to 20 or 100 years.

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If you’re the kind of business owner who has to wear many hats, renewing your domain can easily slip your mind.

Network Solutions understands this, which is why they offer a set-it-and-forget-it solution. Here, you can pay for domain ownership for up to 20 or 100 years, eliminating the need to constantly renew it.

This registrar offers other benefits, such as advanced searching tools, and domain management services. That said, their interface seems sophisticated, and this can deter first time users. Their customer support could also do with a bit of improvement.

Best for multiple domains

Namesilo Domain Name Registrar

Namesilo Domain Name Registrar

Namesilo is best at selling domains in bulk. The higher the number of domains you buy, the higher the discount you get for each domain.

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For those interested in purchasing multiple domain names, Namesilo is the ultimate registrar to use. The platform gives you a discounted rate based on the number of domains you buy. Simply put, the more domains you get the lower the rate you’ll pay for each.

And the best thing is, all of their domains come with a handsome bundle of extra features that are offered for free. These include essential functions like domain privacy, DNS management tools, access to custom WHOIS records, email forwarding and Domain Defender Protection.

With such a decent offering, users easily overlook the poorly laid out design of their website. They also pay little attention to the fact that Namesilo offers limited phone support.

What to look for in a good domain name registrar

There are a couple of things you should take into account when picking a domain name registrar. Here’s a rundown of the features to look for:

Pricing

You may come across domain name registrations that offer very affordable prices. But don’t be fooled by what you see on the surface. Dig deeper and read the fine print.

The entity may be offering a discounted upfront cost, only to charge you an exorbitant renewal or privacy registration fee.

If you purchase a domain at a low introductory price, and then find out later that the renewal rate is too pricey, consider transferring your domain to a different registrar.

Expiration grace period

The best domain registrars offer a decent expiration grace period.

It’s important to note that even though the majority of registrars offer auto-renewals, not all of them provide this grace period. Without this time extension, you may end up losing your domain because you forgot to pay the renewal fee in time.

On the same note, be wary of registrars that monetize on expired domains. Such entities analyze their databases looking for expired domains. Once they find them, they price them highly because they know the domains are highly sought after.

Domain privacy

If you’ve been shopping around for a suitable domain registrar, then you’ve probably come across the terms ICANN and Whois. So what exactly are they?

ICANN is the abbreviation for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. It’s a nonprofit corporation that’s tasked with maintaining 1) the security of the Internet and 2) the naming structure of different sites.

One requirement that ICANN places on individuals looking to register their domains is that they ought to provide valid contact information. This entails their name, physical address, email address and phone number.

Naturally, not everyone feels safe giving up these details to be available for public view. This is where domain privacy comes in.

Some registrars keep your personal details concealed, and they instead offer their own contact information. So if anybody looks up your domain, what they’ll see are the contact details of your registrar; not your own.

Domain extensions

Another crucial factor you’ll want to take into account is the list of domain extensions that a registrar is offering.

Generally, domain extensions are divided into two: top-level domains (TLDs) and country code top-level domains (ccTLDs).

The most common TLDs are .com, .net, .org, .edu and .gov. There are a couple of other TLDs that have been rising in popularity recently, such as .io and .co.

As you might have guessed from the name, ccTLDs are specific to certain countries. Examples include .uk (United Kingdom), .au (Australia), and .ca (Canada).

The reason why a domain extension matters is because it plays a huge role in your online visibility. If you pick a popular extension, customers are more likely to find your business online.

Just to emphasize on the significance of domain extensions, consider Facebook.

Back in 2011, the social media giant paid The American Farm Bureau Federation a whopping $8.5 million so as to get ownership of the domain fb.com. Facebook wanted to make it easier for its users to access the platform when they typed this domain.

Domain transfers

There are several reasons why you may want to transfer your domain.

Perhaps you’ve found a better registrar and want to start using their services. Or maybe you’ve decided to have your web hosting and domain registration under one roof.

For whatever reason, you’ll want to be able to migrate to another domain through a smooth and efficient process.

Unfortunately, not every registrar offers a smooth and flawless domain transfer. There are those who complicate it while others require you to pay a fee to facilitate the process. So comb through users’ reviews and find out whether the registrar offers an easy domain transfer.

Domain management

Contrary to what most people think, domain names aren’t a “set-and-forget” kind of thing. Getting a domain name is just the first step. Moving forward, you’ll need to renew it, and ensure that it’s secure and accessible.

Thankfully, managing a domain is not as difficult as say, web hosting. In fact, if you only have one website, domain management will be relatively easy. But if you have multiple domains, then the management features become even more crucial.

Different registrars have different systems for domain management. So get an insight into this before deciding which registrar to work with.

For instance, some registrars have an auto-renewal feature. This is really handy because it helps you secure your domain even when you forget to pay for the service. Once you’ve picked a registrar, get your auto-renewal set up correctly so you don’t run into any issues down the road.

There are a few other domain management features you should look for in a registrar. These include:

  • Two-factor authentication

The two-factor authentication means that you have to verify your account in two steps. In the first step, a user inputs their username and password. The second stage involves being sent a text message on a trusted device that only you can access.

So even if an individual steals your username and password, they still can’t access your account as they can’t get through to the second stage of verification.   

  • DNS management tools

DNS is simply a short form for domain name system. Your DNS records are kept in databases referred to as nameservers.

They direct web browsers how to find your website. It’s good practice to update your DNS records regularly- a task that shouldn’t be too difficult if the registrar has given you easy DNS tools.

  • Domain lock

Also referred to as “transfer lock”, the purpose of this is to lock down your domain name and extension so that no one has an opportunity to transfer and use it as their own.

Registration time frame

One point you should keep in mind when it comes to domain names is the fact that you can’t register one for just one or two months.

The minimum period you’re allowed to register your domain is one year. It means you should be prepared to pay for at least a year right off the bat.

That said, there are a couple of registrars that force you to pay for more than a year right out of the gate. This can cause inconvenience if you decide to change your domain name later on so be wary of such platforms.

The best registrars are those that offer a variety of timeframes. Essentially, you get to decide what time frame works for you. So you can choose to pay for the first one, two or five years. The advantage you get for committing to a long-term plan is that you get a huge discount.

Overall, we recommend registering for a year’s worth of service. This way, you have ample time to assess whether it’s the right registar for you. If you end up getting sub-par services, you can always migrate your domain to another registrar.

Customer support

Most domain registrars are big-sized companies offering a wide variety of services. As such, they’ll hire a ton of employees to work in different departments.

The best domain registrars are those who particularly invest in the customer support department. Such firms offer all kinds of support; from live chat to email and direct phone line.

While analyzing the nature of customer services offered by these registrars, don’t forget to check whether they have a knowledge base. This is a very useful section, moreso for people who prefer to conduct their own research.

On the same note, you’ll want to check just how readily available their customer representatives are. Ideally, you should be able to receive help round-the-clock.

Check out the registrar’s reviews online and learn about the experiences that other customers have had when dealing with the platform’s customer support.

FAQ

Is there a difference between a domain registrar and a domain reseller?

Yes, the two are very different. A registrar is an accredited organization that has earned the right to register and manage domain names.

A reseller, on the other hand, is free to register a domain name on behalf of an individual but it doesn’t have any contractual partnership with ICANN. And as we mentioned earlier, it’s important to comply with ICANN’s policies when it comes to domain registration.

How can I acquire a domain name permanently?

It’s not possible to buy a domain name and get ownership of it permanently. You have to renew it every few years if you want to retain it.

Should I trademark my domain name?

Yes, taking this step is very smart. If your brand name corresponds to your domain name, then getting a trademark is a nice way to protect it legally. It prevents infringement, helping to protect your business and brand’s identity.

What is domain parking?

This allows you to get your domain name registered, without necessarily having to associate it with a website or email. It means that just because you’ve gotten a domain doesn’t mean that you also have to get a website set up immediately.

Final verdict

Picking the right domain name is integral to your business. To achieve this, you need to find a suitable domain registrar first.

When looking for this service provider, pay attention to features such as registration time frame, grace period, renewal rates and policies, choice of domain names, domain transfers and most importantly, pricing.

Ultimately, the best domain registrar is the one who will offer a wide selection of names to choose from, at reasonable upfront and renewal rates.

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