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A unique domain name is what sets your website apart from the billions of other sites on the internet. However, it’s more than an address on the internet—the right domain name resonates with your audience, attracts organic traffic, and helps build credibility.
But how much does one actually cost? Most domain registrars advertise their lowest price, which is often far from the actual, long-term cost. I’ll explain all the factors that add up to the true cost of a domain name so you can budget accordingly.
The 7 Best Domain Registrars for Purchasing a Domain Name
GoDaddy is a famous domain registrar, but far from the only one. Our research team identified several quality options, with each one rising to the occasion for specific needs.
- GoDaddy – Best for Domain Protection and Privacy
- Hostinger – Best for bundling domain registration and web hosting
- Porkbun – Best for creative domain extensions
- Domain.com – Best for fast and simple domain purchasing
- Network Solutions – Best for long-term domain registrations
- Namecheap – Best for affordable domain registration
- NameSilo – Best for buying domains in bulk
We’ve also put together a comprehensive post comparing the best domain registrars that you can read to learn even more about your options and the domain buying process.
Find Out How Much a Domain Name Costs in 7 Easy Steps
Fortunately, finding out the price of your domain name isn’t difficult if you know what to look out for. This way, there are no nasty surprises down the road. And I’ve broken this process down into a few easy-to-follow steps.
- Choose a domain name at GoDaddy
- Do a domain name search
- Decide if you want privacy protection
- Consider a professional business email
- Consider purchasing similar domains
- Review any deals or discounts
- Factor in additional costs after purchase
I chose GoDaddy for this demonstration for several reasons. First, GoDaddy is an ICANN-accredited registrar, so I know I’m dealing with a legitimate registrar. The registrar also offers hundreds of top-level domains (TLDs), which is perfect for price-shopping for a quality URL while keeping my costs down.
Finally, I can also bundle related services with GoDaddy, like domain privacy and protection, web hosting, professional email, SSL certificate, and a website builder.
Step 1: Choose a Domain Name with GoDaddy
The steps to finding out the cost of a domain name are similar, regardless of the domain registrar you choose. For our case, visit the GoDaddy website to get started.
You can adjust the pricing to your preferred currency by scrolling to the bottom of the page and choosing your currency from the menu.
Now’s the time to choose a domain name. You might already have one or a few options in mind. But, don’t worry if you can’t come up with a name on the spot—GoDaddy offers a free domain name generator on their site.
Simply hover on Find a Domain on the main menu bar at the top of the page. Then click Generate Domains & Business Names.
Now enter a few keywords related to your website or business in the provided field. Use any relevant combination of words, such as your name, industry, product, brand, or location.
I used two keywords for this demonstration. The first is a fictitious name, Nicolas, and the other is the field of my made-up business or website (electronics).
GoDaddy suggests some available domain names and prices. I only need to click the shopping cart button next to the domain name I want and start the purchase process, if one fits my needs.
In my example, GoDaddy offers over 40 domain options, ranging from $0.01 to $24.99 for the first year.
You can also use a different domain name or keyword phrase generator to find ideas, then plug that into GoDaddy’s search.
For example, the Looka domain name generator provided a lot of different combinations of keywords, but not all of them were relevant to my search terms of “electronics,” “phones,” and “shop.”
Whichever route you choose, gather up a few workable domain name options that resonate with your and your site’s goals. With multiple options in hand, you’re ready to check which ones are available for purchase.
Step 2: Do a Domain Name Search
GoDaddy has a domain name search tool on their homepage. It’s likely to be the first thing you see when you arrive at their site.
Remember that, though you’ve come up with domain name options, you still need to choose a top-level domain (TLD), also called a domain extension.
Of course, the most coveted is the .com extension because it is authoritative, popular, and memorable.
If my name were Amos, I could snag AmosHub.com for just 19 cents for the first year. However, the price shown so far isn’t final (and you can see that it’s heavily marked down from its normal price point of $20.17 per year). There are a few more steps to go through, and I suspect the price will increase.
But it’s likely that your favorite domain name isn’t available in a .com, or is at least prohibitively expensive to secure.
If AmosHub.com wasn’t available for the right price, I could try other TLDs. Extensions like .co, .site, or .store are popular and effective, or you can use more creative ones than that. Just keep in mind how important it is for someone to easily remember your full URL without being on your website.
I only need to click the shopping cart button next to the domain name I want to purchase to continue on with the process.
Now, let’s try another example. For the domain MobileBoutique, the .com extension is taken. My options are to find its owner and buy it or choose a different TLD.
MobileBoutique.online could work, but it’s long and a bit of a mouthful.
So, let’s say I must have MobileBoutique.com and nothing else will do. GoDaddy offers professional brokerage services to help me purchase the domain from its current owner. The broker will handle everything, including finding the domain owner, negotiating the price, and transferring the domain to me.
I’ll need to pay a one-time broker fee of $69.99 if I choose this route. This price doesn’t include the cost of the domain. There’s also a 20% commission on the sale price. So, I might end up paying a good bit more for the .com version of this domain than any other extension.
GoDaddy conveniently suggested a similar domain: MobileBoutiques.com. It costs $2,695, so I have a rough estimate of how much the current owner of MobileBoutique.com might value their own domain.
You can see a massive price difference when purchasing an available domain versus one that’s been taken. There’s also no guarantee that the domain owner wants to sell. so I might end up paying the non-refundable fee, waiting for months, and still get a negative response.
Since AmosHub.com is available for cheap and it fits what I want to do with my website, we’ll proceed through the rest of this guide focused on that domain. Let’s see how much it costs to own the domain by the time we complete the checkout process.
Step 3: Decide If You Want Domain Privacy Protection
I’ve added my domain to the cart and proceeded to checkout. Now come the upsells, starting with domain privacy protection.
Most registrars, including GoDaddy, offer domain protection by default. So ensure you uncheck this option if you don’t want to incur the extra cost.
GoDaddy domain protection starts at $9.99 per year. I’ve decided to include it in my purchase. It’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind it offers. I don’t want my private information to be available to the public.
For example, aggressive marketers may find my personal information and spam my inbox, phone number, or website with unsolicited offers or products. Similarly, a cybercriminal could steal my identity, hijack my domain, and use it for illegal activities.
Every registered domain appears on the WHOIS database. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)—a non-profit that manages domain name systems, among other responsibilities—manages the database.
The WHOIS database is a public record. Each domain entry includes the owner’s name, address, phone number, and email. You’ll also find additional details like the domain registrar, registration date, and expiry date. Purchasing domain protection means that your registrar replaces your personal WHOIS information with its own contact details. GoDaddy does this through a third party called Domains By Proxy.
You can actually skip this step if you still aren’t sure whether the cost is worth it to you. I think it’s always a good idea to secure this while snagging your domain, but you can always purchase privacy protection later through your registrar.
Step 4: Consider a Professional Business Email
The next upsell is a professional business email that is attached to your new domain name.
I’ve also added this option at an extra fee. This is totally optional, but it’s a nice extra if you’re starting a website that is related to a business venture of yours. A professional email, tied to your website’s domain, is great for gaining clients’ trust and projecting a professional business image.
You’ll notice that GoDaddy offers a few different forms of this extra. You can just snag an email address for $1.99 per month, or secure one of two Microsoft 365 packages (which includes access to the suite of MS Office products and cloud storage) for a higher monthly add-on fee.
Again, you can also purchase the business email after registering and buying your domain. There’s no pressure to commit to this during checkout.
Step 5: Consider Purchasing Similar Domains
I was fortunate to find a .com extension for my preferred domain name. However, other variations like AmosHub.net, .co, and .org are still available. Therefore, a competitor could purchase these domains, confuse my clients, or steal my website traffic.
GoDaddy offers suggestions for similar domains at a discounted price. I decided not to purchase the extra domains for now. It’s not a priority since my fictitious shop isn’t successful enough to catch an unfair competitor’s eye. But it’s something to consider in the future when my store grows.
Consider also purchasing common misspellings of your domain name. For example, Google owns common domain misspellings such as Googlr.com, Gogle.com, and Gooogle.com. While not mandatory, it’s something to think about in the future when your brand gains momentum. It really helps ensure that anyone intending to visit your website ends up there, even if they misremember or mistype your URL.
Step 6: Review Any Deals, Promotions, or Discounts
My GoDaddy domain only costs $0.19 for the first year. However, the massive discount only applies if I lock into a two-year contract.
Since that 19-cent price only applies to year one, year two will cost me the full, normal price of the domain. If you remember, I pointed that out a few steps earlier. AmosHub.com normally would cost $20.17 for a year.
Since I must pay for the full two-year registration upfront, that means I’ll pay $20.36 at checkout to register and own AmosHub.com.
When that two-year term expires, I’ll need to renew my domain each year after that. So, keep in mind what the renewal cost is likely to be so you can budget down the road accordingly.
Remember also that each add-on service you choose also renews monthly or yearly.
For example, my business email costs $1.99 per month, but I’ll have to pay for at least one year of the service, adding at least $23.88 to my checkout total. Be mindful of the renewal rate for this, as this service usually renews at full price ($71.88 per year).
Similarly, domain protection will cost me $9.99 yearly.
The point is that buying a domain name isn’t a one-time cost and it’s rarely just going to cost you what a registrar lists the price as.
Instead, it is a recurring cost depending on your contract term. For example, GoDaddy offers yearly, two, three, five, and ten-year contracts. That’s something you can use to your advantage.
It’s always a good idea to lock up a domain name for as long as possible (or, at least as long as you intend to run and maintain your website). Sometimes, you can get better savings with a longer-term commitment, too. Just keep in mind that you’re on the hook for paying the whole term up front at checkout. So, if I registered AmosHub.com for five years with the first-year discounted rate, I’d have to pay $80.87 today to secure it.
But, for now, we’ll focus on a two-year contract, with two years of privacy protection and one year of professional email attached to my domain. My cost so far is $64.22 for the domain name and add-on services.
Step 7: Factor In Additional Costs After Purchasing Your Domain
Unless you plan to simply resell your domain name, a few more costs are involved after the initial purchase. It’s helpful to know what lies ahead so you can budget accordingly. Again, most of these are recurring costs, so keep that in mind.
I’ll need to build a website for the domain name, if I haven’t already done so. The cost here depends on which design option I choose. For example, GoDaddy supplies a free website builder with every domain purchase. The builder is easy to use, so I can create a professional website without design experience.
Alternatively, I can use other platforms that range from free to use (like WordPress) to a few dollars or more per month (like Squarespace).
Or, if I don’t want to do any site building myself, I could hire an expert designer. Most professionals charge between $30 and $40 per hour or higher depending on their experience and expertise.
GoDaddy also offers several professional web design packages to suit different needs.
You’ll need to point your domain name to the hosting server if you choose a different web host from your domain registrar. It’s one of the main reasons I chose GoDaddy in this example, since I can get everything I need from the same provider, all at once, without it costing me an arm and a leg.
Final Thoughts About How Much a Domain Name Costs
The true cost of a domain name is rarely as advertised. I found a terrific deal for $0.19, but additional costs and service made my actual checkout total $64.22. That’s before even factoring in extra, necessary services like website building and hosting.
Therefore, the best way to determine the cost of a domain name is to list all the domain-related services you need. Then, compare the price of each service and choose only the essential services. Then, depending on your budget, purchase add-ons after scaling your website.