Can You Get A Free Domain Name?

With prices sometimes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, the idea of a free domain name is appealing to anyone who wants to have an online presence.

But is it actually possible to get a domain name for free?

The short answer to this question is no, but the more in depth response actually varies depending on what you consider free. For starters, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) charges a fee for all domain name registration transactions.

ICANN says that it is “responsible for the global coordination of the Internet’s system of unique identifiers like domain names (for example .org, .museum and country codes like .uk) and the addresses used in a variety of Internet protocols that help computers reach each other over the Internet.” Simply put, ICANN makes sure the online world runs smoothly, and this fee helps regulate that environment.

Beyond this cost, there are also fees from domain name registrars – who help with the registration process of all domain names. These companies, however, can basically price domain names however they want, which means you could find an option for as little as $1.

When it comes to free domains, both registrars and web hosting providers sometimes offer free domain names as part of other online packages. If you want to buy a number of domain names from one registrar, for example, you might be able to get some discounted or free, with the registrar bundling costs together so that they still make a profit.

Similarly, if you buy a web-hosting package, there may be an option to get a free domain name as part of the deal. In both of these scenarios you are technically getting a free domain name, but you’re also paying money for other services.

There is also a range of other potential charges that can come with buying a domain name, with many registrars and web hosts offering add-on services, such as email. All of these costs can be an investment for your business or personal website, but it is important to be aware of them before you make any decisions so that you can keep your expenses within budget.

Do You Want A Free Domain Name Or A Free Website?

If you really want to set up a free website, another option is to get a sub-domain. Sub-domains are added onto the beginning of registered domain names and are often free to create and use.

So with this option, instead of the web address being something like, it would be something like

Examples of hosting companies that provide free sub-domain names include WordPress, Blogger, Typepad and Wix. These companies benefit from the service because it draws more traffic to their site and can increase their business.

When the first domain names came into existence, they were practically free because no one knew how much they would be worth. But with regulation of the online world now essential, and demand for domains high, there are now a multitude of costs associated with domain names.

Figuring out exactly what you need, however, means you can find the most affordable domain name and website options at any time.

Should You Buy A Domain Name That Other People Will Want?

The rise of new domain name extensions is giving more people an opportunity to invest in a range of appealing domain names.

Although new global top level domain names like .Wine, .Hotels and .Careers will be snapped up by relevant businesses and individuals, there is also a chance for smart investors to buy up domain names in the hopes of selling them off at a higher rate in the future.

But is it worth actually buying domain names that you don’t really need for yourself?

There is already an abundance of prominent investors in the domain name market, many of whom have made fortunes from buying and selling domains. On the other hand, there are also people who have spent a lot of money getting domain names, only to end up stuck with them for years because of a lack of buyers.

As with other investments, like real estate or stocks, there is some risk attached to buying domain names you plan to sell for a profit. So if you are just starting to consider the possibility of investing, it is important to learn more about the industry and the strategies required to increase your chances of making money.

According to general manager of DOMAINfest, Aaron Kvitek, domain name investing – or “domaining” – can be compared to commercial real estate.

“Before a business can physically setup their place of business, they need to select the best location, the best commercial real estate address for their needs. The same process happens in the online world,” he explains in an interview with online marketing company Bruce Clay.

“Before a business can setup their place of business, they need to select a domain name, an online address if you will, that best suits their needs.”

Investors in this medium predict the value of domain names based on elements like the length of the web address, the keywords included in the domain, the extension and how likely it is to be wanted by an individual or business.

But there are also risks to be aware of. For starters, the value of domain names can vary as much as the value of houses and other properties in traditional real estate.

Another issue is that finding a buyer for a domain name you never wanted could be very challenging. There are all kinds of legal requirements that need to be met, and the wrong domain name in the wrong hands could lead to accusations of cybersquatting, among other things.

If you do find a domain name that you think is worth buying for resale, however, you can get guidance from a domain name broker to make sure the purchase is worth it and to help facilitate a valuable sale.

While most people invest in a domain name or names that they plan to actually use, buying domain names that could be popular in the future is another way to make money in this field. And as more domain names become available, the web of opportunity is growing all the time.

Do Domain Name Emails Damage The Industry?

Domain name companies that send out emails about potential sales could be damaging the industry according to reports from news site

Editor-in-Chief Michael Berkens has reproduced an email that the industry website received that offered them the chance to purchase domain name

“My name is Mark Vierra and my design firm own, a domain name that we acquired for a plastic surgeon in Boca Raton way back in 1994 for whom we were building a webpage,” the email began.

“Since we are not plastic surgeons, and the name is of no use to my firm, we have decided to let it go for what we paid for it in 1994, which was $4,100.00,” it says, before going on to pitch the website.

Selling points brought up in the email include the potential for high Google ranking and ideal key words so that the buyer would “never have to pay anyone for advertisements again.”

But as Berkens has since found out, the domain name was not even registered in 1994. He also says that if the domain name had sold for $4100 in 1994 it would have been one of the highest sales at the time.

“Of course back in 1994 domain names were free so they didn’t cost anything to register,” he writes.

Berkens says these kinds of emails are damaging to the industry, particularly when it comes to legitimate domain name sellers.

“Because when people outside of the domain space get emails like this it hurts the credibility of other company’s that are trying to sell their domains and gives domainers or domain investors a black eye,” he says.

In some cases people may legitimately be approached by a domain name seller by email, but typically the process will start with an equiry from an interested buyer or domain name broker.

And regardless of whether or not the company trying to sell this particular website is legitimate, the fact that the email seems generic and poorly targeted to the people who received it makes it look like a scam.

In fact, there have been a number of domain name email scams in the past. Some may offer to sell you a particular domain name, while others may warn you that there are people trying to register domain names that are the same as ones you already own.

The Victorian Consumer Affairs Website even has a page dedicated to outlining other domain name email scams that trick businesses into making payments for domains they do not own.

Simply put, even if someone was to send out an email with a domain name sale offer, the history of scams would make it seem instantly suspicious at worst and unprofessional at best.

The bottom line is this: if you have a domain name to sell or want to buy one, it is better to be safe – and go through the familiar channels and processes – than send or reply to an email that could be more trouble than its worth.

What Is A Domain Name Collision?

If you have ever typed in a domain name and been taken to a different webpage or seen an error instead of the site you wanted, then you could have encountered a domain name collision.

This term specifically refers to instances where unexpected search results or errors occur as a result of clashes between private and public domain names.

Generally private name spaces (such as personal networks) and public domain name servers are separated by the networks that they use, but the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) says that collisions are more likely when the domain names used between private and public servers are the same or very similar.

“For an analogy, consider calling for ‘Mary’ in your office where you’ve assumed there’s only one ‘Mary’, and then calling out ‘Mary’ in a shopping mall and expecting that ‘office Mary’ will respond,” ICANN explains in its Name Collisions FAQs.

“This manifests online, when users unknowingly access a name that has been delegated in the public DNS when the user’s actual intent was to access a resource identified by the same name in a private network.”

ICANN says that domain name collisions create “name resolution uncertainty” and blur the boundaries between private and public namespaces, making it important to avoid clashes as much as possible.

But the introduction of hundreds of new top-level domain names (TLDs) has increased concern around potential collisions.

Some of the new domain name extensions, such as .Home and .Corp, are already used by private networks. The introduction of identical public domain name options, then, could mean that people trying to access these private networks end up redirected to public domains, and vice versa.

But ICANN says that the chances of collisions should not increase because of new domain names and has released a new report explaining the risks and outlining recommendations to avoid any issues.

“This report takes an in-depth look at the collision issue and the potential risks and impacts, and gives us some very clear advice aimed at how to help system operators detect and mitigate those risks,” said Akram Atallah, President of ICANN’s Global Domains Division.

Atallah added that the next step is to “seek input from our community on the report’s findings”, with public comments on the report open until 21st April 2014.

While ICANN has stressed that name collisions are not new and should not be increased by the introduction of new TLDs, it is clear that more awareness of the issue will benefit people working both in the private and public domain spaces.

So whether you currently use a private network or want to invest in a brand new domain name, being aware of collisions will help you figure out the best ways forward.

Do You Need A Personal Website?

The benefits of having a business website have been outlined time and again, but personal websites have the potential to offer just as much value.

In fact, research from professional branding company Workfolio has found that more than half (56%) of all hiring managers value personal websites more than any other resource job seekers provide.

Workfolio founder and CEO, Charles Pooley, has also outlined on his own website a number of reasons professionals – whether employed, freelance or seeking work – should get their own website set up.

Pooley says that a personal website can improve your chances of being “found” online when people are searching for related services and information, sends a strong professional message and improves your content’s visibility. He says personal websites can also lead to better first impressions and connections with customers by putting a face to the name or brand.

“Good salespeople know how important it is to make personal connections with their clients. Whether it’s a shared hobby, life philosophy, or experience, making some sort of connection with your audience reminds them that you are a real person,” he writes.

“Websites give you a chance to talk about your interests and experiences in a way that is difficult to do on a resume, and gives visitors a number of chances to make those important connections.”

While Pooley puts forward a compelling argument for having a personal website for professional reasons, the drawback is that personal websites – and the perception of personal websites – can vary significantly.

Corporate strategist and blogger Tommy Humphrey’s says the popularity of personal websites means that they can mean “a lot of different things to different people, from a simple blog to a full-fledged interactive experience.”

“It seems like everybody and their dog has a personal website these days, or wants one,” he writes, notably, on his personal website’s blog.

But, the questions remains, who really needs a personal website? And should you buy a domain name for one now anyway?

The answer really depends on whether or not you want to spend the time and money investing in a personal website. Do you think it will be worthwhile in the future? Are you in a profession that values personal websites (such as the creative and freelance industries)?

Humphreys suggests it is also about how much you engage with the online world and what strategies you have for your business or career.

“Carefully executed, a personal brand site is more than just a vanity piece. It is a subtle marketing tool that can help you find new leads and new opportunities, and help you manifest your goals,” he explains.

“It’s also great for search engine optimization: for better or worse, you will dominate search results for your name. So the question is, how much do you value standing out on the Web?”

How Many Domain Name Variations Should You Buy?

As new domain options become available, many businesses are starting to consider how many versions of their name they should actually buy.

Finding one domain name to fit your business can be hard enough – particularly when the ever-popular .com options are often unavailable – but there are even more potential problems now that ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has started to launch hundreds of new extensions.

The move, designed to make it easier for people to get a domain name that is specific and relevant to their business or website purpose, has brought up concerns of more cybersquatting and other questionable practices.

Previously, cybersquatting was limited to only a handful of domain name extensions and name variations. If you used the domain, for instance, a cybersquatter might try to buy, or some other variation.

The hundreds of new extensions set to come onto the market, however, mean that these cybersquatters could choose to buy domain names like,, or possibly even

The cybersquatter could then try to sell these domain names to you for an even higher price.

While this kind of practise is illegal under international law, the legal process can be long and expensive: costs for a case filed under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy with the World Intellectual Property Organisation start at US$1500, which is a lot more than you would pay for some domain names.

Cybersquatting issues are one of the main reasons many domain name brokers and companies recommend buying variations of your primary domain name straight away. This strategy acts as insurance against the above issues and can work out cheaper in the long run.

But will that mean you have to buy hundreds or even thousands of variations as more extensions become available?

Fortunately that is not the case, particularly if your business has a registered trademark, as North American news company CNBC explains in an article about the domain name expansion.

“Businesses have the option of registering a website that is important to their brand before the top-level domain opens to the public,” CNBC reports.

“For example, Pizza Hut could buy the second-level domain “,” before the generic domain “.pizza,” opened up to the public.”

Trademark and Internet law experts have been advising businesses to make a list of the most relevant domain name variations so that they can bid for them as soon as the market opens. Small businesses, on the other hand, may find this process expensive.

“While trademarked holders can register Web addresses early with gTLDs relevant to their brand, the cost to do so can add up quickly,” CNBC says.

“The cost for just one Web address during the sunrise period can be (US)$250 or more.”

The release of new domain name extensions has opened up the way for a wide range of different website addresses. But it will be up to individual businesses to decide how much money to invest in all the domain name variations that come with this online change.

Should Your Domain Name Match Your Business Name?

At first glance it seems like having a domain name that matches your business name is ideal.

On the one hand, an exact-match domain name for your business can make it easier to direct people to your website, add authority to the site and company and even draw in more web traffic.

It is so popular to match a domain name to a business name that some startups have even registered a domain before choosing the business name so that they can avoid disappointment if the domain name they want is unavailable.

On the other hand, however, finding an exact match for a business name is becoming harder and more expensive, due to more and more people registering domain names and the cost of premium domain names getting higher all the time.

But US business naming and branding company NameStormers is one of many companies that says the dot-com element should be one of the last things you worry about.

“A good way to think about dot-coms is that they are like license plates,” the NameStormers blog says.

“Even if someone else has the exact spelling you want, you can often tweak a letter or two and come up with something just as good or occasionally even better that is a registrable URL.”

NameStormers gave an example of a fitness equipment client that wanted to launch a new treadmill. The name Forefront was suggested but, predictably, the domain name was not available.

“So, we suggested 4Front as an alternative where the “4” tied in to four new features, put the name at the top of the alphabetical list and perhaps, most importantly, was an available dot-com,” NameStormers says.

“What was going to be a losing battle turned into an important victory with just a fairly simple strategy change.”

Another option is to register a domain name that relates to what your business does, or to a catchphrase associated with the company.

If, for instance, your business was a photography company called Snap and your branding was centred on the phrase “get focused”, you could register as your domain name. The name is simple, easy to remember and still aligns with the businesses core themes and values.

Many smaller businesses use this domain name option when they cannot buy an exact match option. Chicago-based Famous Hair salon, for example, uses the domain name “”.

There is a wide range of other solutions that businesses branding experts and online resources have suggested but if you are determined to get an exact match, then it could be worth seeking further advice.

A domain name broker, for example, could help you strike up a deal with the owner of the domain name that you want.

Australian business law specialists Aspect Legal have also noted that recent changes in the domain name industry could help.

“Domain name allocation rules have recently changed, and in the national and international arena, you may now be eligible to obtain a domain name matching your own trademark (registered, or in the process of a registration application) even if it is not your registered business name or company name.”

It makes sense to have a domain name which complements your business name but that does not mean they have to be exactly the same. So instead of focusing completely on the domain name, with these different options in mind you can place emphasis on choosing a domain that is right for your business – not just its name.

Search Data Highlights Domain Name Interest In Australia

How does interest in domain names in Australia compare to the rest of the world?

While the population might be smaller than many other western countries, Google Search Insights data for 2013 has shown that Australia has one of the highest search volumes for “domain name” in the world.

In fact, Australia is second only to Nigeria, and followed by India, Singapore, Bangladesh and New Zealand, while the United States is notably missing from the top 10 countries.

The data reflects the popularity of domain name purchases, with about one in four Australians owning at least one domain.

What’s more, research from Verisign puts Australia in the top 10 countries for country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) name registration in 2013 and the Domain Name Registrar (Australia) expects .au domain name registrations to hit the 3 million mark in 2014.

So what are we searching for when it comes to domain names specifically?

According to the Google data, the most popular domain name searches in Australia for 2013 are as follow:

  1. domain name search
  2. domain search
  3. domain name registration
  4. domain registration
  5. domain name register
  6. domain name australia
  7. domain names
  8. domain name server
  9. free domain
  10. buy domain name

Search terms also rising by 50% and 60% respectively are “godaddy” and “business names”.

The most searches for domain names in Australia come from the ACT, followed by NSW and Victoria (which only have a point of difference between them).

But city-specific data shows that while Canberra is first, it is actually followed by Melbourne and then by Sydney, revealing how data can be affected by interest (or lack thereof) in regional and metropolitan areas.

How To Use Domain Name Search Data To Your Benefit

This kind of information might seem trivial at first glance, but you can use it to your advantage if you are interested in domain names.

Analysing these trends and drawing logical conclusions could give you an edge if you are planning to work in the domain name industry or if you want to figure out what helps make domain name purchases more successful.

The fact that “domain name search” was the top search for 2013 in Australia, for example, suggests that people are eager to find domain names that are available for registration. That also indicates most searches come from people who understand at least the basics of domain names.

Similarly, the top rising search term related to domains – “business names” – reveals that businesses or people interested in starting businesses are currently very interested in the domain name market.

But most of all, the fact that Australia had the second highest number of domain name searches on Google in 2013 shows our growing and sustained interest in the market.

Search data and insights are often considered a key part of website development and maintenance, but they can also help with domain name research.

So whether you want to build up your portfolio, sell domains or just want to buy one domain name, looking at this data gives you valuable insights into the local and global market.