How much does a domain name cost?

How much does a domain name cost?


Jason Buonviri

Jason Buonviri is the Web Developer at Array Digital. Companies come to us when their software holds them back from growing. We solve complex problems so they can compete at a higher level.


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When creating a brand new website, there are several costs associated with the process, including hiring a web development company, purchasing a hosting plan, signing up for a continual support plan, and registering a domain name. A good domain name (the “www” address that people type into their web browser) is critical to any new website and will allow users to easily remember and find your website. When people can find your website quickly, it makes it easier for them to make a purchase and for you to increase your sales.

An important question that comes up frequently when a website is being developed is, “How much does it cost to purchase a domain name?” The short answer is, anywhere between $10 and $30+ million. Unfortunately, this isn’t a specific answer, but following is some information that can help you understand the pricing differences you may encounter as you search for that perfect domain name.

Unregistered Domain Names

Domain names that are not registered are the easiest and most cost effective domain names to purchase.  If you are a startup or small businesses, this type of domain name is the best choice to keep your costs down.  The price will typically range between 10 and 20 dollars per year, making the domain name the least expensive piece of your new website.

To get started, find a domain name registrar company  and search for available domains. Some of the most popular domain name registers include: GoDaddyRegister.com, NameCheap, BlueHost, InMotion Hosting, 1and1, and DreamHost. Keep in mind that finding an available domain name that you love might be challenging at first.  Make sure that you have some alternates in mind, and be flexible. Keep searching  to discover suitable domains that are available for purchase. Once you have a list of contenders, narrow that list down until you make a final decision.

If you cannot find an available domain name that you love, then there are other (more expensive) options available.

Aftermarket / Premium Domains

If a domain name is already registered, then you may be able to buy the domain in the domain aftermarket.  This type of domain name is often called a premium domain, which is defined as “the secondary market for Internet domain names in which a party interested in acquiring a domain that is already registered bids or negotiates a price to effect the transfer of registration from the registered holder of that domain name.” **courtesy of Wikipedia.

Aftermarket domains range drastically in price. If you are looking to purchase an aftermarket domain, be prepared to spend $3,000 – $30,000 on average. There is no limit to the price tag of a premium domain. The shorter and easier the domain name is to remember, the more valuable the domain will be. Available premium domains will either have a set “buy now” price, or you will have to bid on them in an auction.

Here are the top 5 most expensive aftermarket domain names ever sold:

  1. Insurance.com – $35.6 million (2010)
  2. Vacationrentals.com – $35 million (2007)
  3. Privatejet.com – $30.1 million (2012)
  4. Internet.com – $18 million (2009)
  5. 360.com – $17 million (2009)

**Data courtesy of Wikipedia.

Here are 4 websites you can search to purchase premium domain names that are already registered:

  1. Afternic
  2. Sedo
  3. GoDaddy Auctions
  4. BrandBucket

Domain Backorders

If you have nothing but time on your side, a domain backorder is your ticket to the domain of your choice.

GoDaddy offers a domain backorder service where you can pay $24.98 to get in line to purchase a domain when it expires. GoDaddy describes their process much like getting a numbered ticket at a supermarket. When a previously owned domain becomes available, the next number in line is called. Getting your domain name through the domain backorders method can be an extremely long process that may never come to fruition. But if you have the time and patience, it does give people an opportunity to own their dream domain name with little upfront cost.

$10 or $10 million, the choice is yours.

At the end of the day, your new website will need a domain. There are different types of domains and price points associated with each. As a business owner, you will have to weigh your options and purchase a domain that both fits within your budget and is easy for your customers to remember. When in doubt, start with an unregistered domain name to keep your cost low. You can always upgrade to a premium domain name in a few years when your business is more established and can responsibly afford the cost.

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