When you decide to build a website, your first decision will be what domain name to use and where to purchase your domain name.
Choosing the right domain name and domain name registrar for your website are important decisions.
Having registered dozens of domain names and built several WordPress websites, our team of experts created this guide, to help you make the right choice for your domain name.
Before getting to the best domain registrars in 2022, let’s first cover some basics on domain names and registrars.
If you already have a domain name registrar in mind, click on it below to jump directly to its section.
What is a domain name?
A domain name is your website name or website URL (uniform resource locator). Domain names make it easy to navigate the internet.
A domain name tells the internet which website to take an online visitor to. When you type “nexym.com” or “google.com,” the internet routes you automatically to those websites.
Without domain names, we’d be stuck entering in long and difficult to remember IP Addresses to visit websites. Domain names are like a contact list with stored numbers, you type in a domain name and you’re taken to a website, just like when we click names on our contact list and are able to call or send messages instantly.
A domain name serves as your own online real-estate. When you register a domain name, you own the domain name. Once you connect your domain name to a website hosting service, you can build your website.
There are many types of domain names and domain name extensions — aka TLD (top-level domain). A domain name extension are the letters you put at the end of a domain name. For example, Nexym’s domain name is nexym.com, it uses a .com domain name extension. Behance’s domain name is behance.net, it uses a .net domain name extension.
Currently, there are 1,498 domain name extensions https://data.iana.org/TLD/tlds-alpha-by-domain.txt[/efn_note], the 5 most popular domain name extensions are:
Domain name extensions can be country specific, for example, .fr for France, or .ca for Canada. They can even be industry specific, .flowers, .lawyer, .accountant, .actor, .pizza – there are many options! However, most people tend to register .com domain names because they are globally recognized and easy to remember.
According to VeriSign (NASDAQ: VRSN), a domain registry provider, 363.5 million domain names were registered in the first quarter of 2022. Of that 363.5 million, approximately 154.6 million were .com domain names.
As a general rule of thumb, do your best to register the .com version of your domain name.
What makes a good domain name?
A domain name, like any name, is a very personal or pragmatic choice. For your personal blog, registering your full name or variation (if available) would make sense. If you’re a business owner, before even deciding on the actual business name, you’ll want to make sure the domain name is available and register it.
To choose a good domain name for your website, we have some pointers.
Here are the top pointers to keep in mind:
- Choose a domain name that is easy to remember
- Domain names containing two syllable words are best, e.g.: Nexym, Google, Walmart
- Pick the right domain name extension, .com is globally recognized, but in the UK, .uk works
- Make sure your domain name matches your industry or personal brand
- Make sure your domain name has properly spelt out words
These are absolute no-no’s when it comes to domain names, keep them in mind:
- Don’t put any dashes in your domain name
- Don’t put any special characters in your domain name
- Don’t make your domain name time specific, e.g. nexym2021.com, in 2022, it’d be obsolete
- Don’t mix languages in your domain name, unless particular to your industry
- Don’t make your domain name too long or use difficult words
Most importantly, when you decide on a domain name, don’t share the news or post it online until you’ve actually registered it at a domain registrar.
Remember, virtually anyone can register a domain name, you don’t want anyone stealing or domain squatting on yours.
What is a domain registrar?
A domain registrar is any company that lets you register and purchase domain names. ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is a non-profit organization and domain authority, they accredit all domain registrars.
ICANN’s goal is to make domain names widely available and accredits companies to become domain registrars and sell domain names to individuals, organizations, and businesses.
Essentially, a domain registrar is given permission by ICANN to store your domain name records in a centralized domain name database registry called WHOIS. The WHOIS registry is a centralized domain database listing that lists who owns a domain name and their contact information.
A domain registrar would list your information on the WHOIS domain database, unless you opt for ID protection (more on that later).
There are many domain registrar companies competing for business, which puts you at a huge advantage for domain name deals, special discounts, and access to useful features.
Since there is so much competition, a lot of people ask the same question “where is the best place to register a domain name?” Before answering, let’s first dig into what makes a domain registrar a good place to purchase your domain name.
What makes a good domain registrar?
Just like every domain name extension is different, so are domain registrars. Some domain registrars focus solely on selling a few country specific domain extensions, others on very cheap pricing with high renewals, or bundling in free domain names with website hosting services.
When ranking our best domain name registrars in 2022, we took into account a few criteria points:
Domain extension availability
We ranked our best domain registrars on the variety of TLD’s and domain name extensions available to register. Some domain registrars have hundreds of name domain extensions available while others have only a handful catering to country specific extensions. All domain registrars on our list have .com’s available to register.
Domain name registration pricing can range from $0.00 the first year to $300 per year. It all depends on the domain name extension, availability, addons, or special promotions offered by the domain registrar.
Free or very cheap domain pricing is normally contingent to signing up to longer domain registration periods, high renewal pricing, or additional services. The domain registrars that made our list are known to have great deals and fair pricing.
Domain registration periods
All domain names, no matter which domain registrar you choose, will require you register your domain name for one year minimum. Some domain registrars offer multi-year registrations, however, renewal pricing can get very high.
Some domain registrars offer domain registrations for free or very cheap pricing, however, will require you sign up for a minimum number of years. Normally, these domain registrars will lock you into high renewal pricing or domain addons.
You can transfer your domain name from one registrar to another. Most people choose to transfer their domain name for better pricing or simply to have all of their web hosting services in one spot. We also looked at the ease of domain transfers into or away from each domain registrar.
ICANN has certain rules for domain transfers that apply to all domain names. When you register a new domain name or transfer it to a new domain registrar, there is an automatic domain lock placed on it for 60 days. This means you can’t transfer it somewhere new until 61 days have passed.
After the 61 days, as per ICANN rules, you can transfer your domain name to a new registrar if you’d like. All domain registrars should make this process easy, however some do place limitations or charge you extra fees, we took that into consideration when evaluation the best domain registrars.
Domain ID protection
When you register a domain name, ICANN allows your domain registrar to add your domain registration details to the centralized domain name listings database, called the WHOIS database.
Everyone wants their website and domain name available to the public, but not necessarily their personal contact information. This is where domain ID protection comes handy. It masks or redacts your personal contact details on your domain name registration for privacy, keeping your identity anonymous.
All of the domain name registrars we reviewed have domain ID protection included automatically on domain name registrations or as an addon.
In our opinion, you should always opt for domain ID protection to keep your personal data private and away from snooping eyes.
Domain expiration rules
Remember, new domain name registrations are automatically registered for one year. What happens when the year is up? That depends on the expiration rules at your domain registrar.
Generally, if your plan is to keep your domain name active, we recommend keeping auto-renewal enabled at your domain registrar. All of the domain registrars we’ve reviewed have this feature enabled by default. This makes sure your domain name stays registered under your name and ownership.
Let’s say you disable auto-renewal and forget to renew your domain name. This is when the domain expiration rules at your domain registrar come into play. Reputable registrars have a grace period, which means you can recoup your domain name. Although there are domain redemption fees to recouping domains, at least it’d still remains yours.
Less reputable registrars don’t have a grace period and we’ve heard of stories of individuals or businesses losing their domain name, it’s pretty bad, so make sure to check. All of the domain registrars that made our list have a grace period available by default.
With that criteria in mind, also make sure to watch out for these pitfalls when picking a domain registrar to purchase a domain name:
- Don’t fall into the trap of multi-year domain pricing with very high renewal fees
- Watch out for addon services that creep into your cart while registering your domain
- Hidden costs for transferring your domain name away or accessing domain transfer codes
- Bad or buggy interfaces to manage your domain names
All of domain registrars do well on the majority of our criteria and avoid those pitfalls off the bat.
With that all in mind, let’s get to the best domain registrars in 2022.
GoDaddy is large website hosting and domain name registrar company. In 2022, they manage just around 78 million domain names for 17 million customers. That’s a lot of domain names.
The sheer number of domain extensions offered by GoDaddy make them a great domain registrar. Currently, they offer over 500 domain extensions including popular ones like .com, .net, .co, and nearly all country specific TLDs. As a domain registrar giant, they’re always adding more.
One feature we really like about GoDaddy is the simplicity of their interface. You can do a single or bulk domain name search. If your domain name is available, you can register it right away. If it isn’t, GoDaddy will provide a long list of alternative TLDs for your domain name, so at least you have options.
GoDaddy also has a domain auction service, which means you can list your domain names for sale. Or, you can buy domain names for sale. They act as a brokerage between the buyer and seller, kind of like a real estate agent would for a house.
One catch with GoDaddy is their multi-year lock ins and very high renewal pricing. They’re excellent for their domain name deals, sometimes offering .com domain name registrations for $1 the first year, only to make it $18.99 on renewal. Considering the average .com domain name is around $12 to $14, they get pricey.
GoDaddy offers basic domain ID protection for free across all of their domain registrations, this means your personal information will be redacted for privacy on the WHOIS database. There is one drawback, it doesn’t protect your domain name against “expiration, hijacking, or malicious transfers,” for that, you’d have to pay $14.99 per year.
Registering a new domain name on GoDaddy is simple enough, however the sign up process can get a bit convoluted. We found extra registration periods and addon services crept into our cart without even clicking to select them.
You might find you’d like to sign up to a .com domain name, but end up with $300 worth of services. Not a great experience, however you can delete things as you go along. Although it can be frustrating at times, the sheer availability of TLDs provided by GoDaddy definitely makes them a worthwhile domain registrar.
Transferring domain names away from GoDaddy is free and easy enough, although their interface did crash on us quite a few times, which made the process tedious. We liked the ability to unlock and grab the domain transfer code in one go.
Register your domain name with GoDaddy!
Skystra consistently ranks as one of our best WordPress hosting providers for their excellent performance, speed, and customer service. They also made our domain registrar list for their transparent domain pricing and easy interface.
You can register all popular TLDs with Skystra, including .com, .net, .com, .org, .co and even some country specific ones like .de, .uk, .ca, .fr, etc.
Skystra sells .com domain names for $13.29 per year, which is a very fair price. That price stays the same on renewal. There are no multi-year lock ins or gotchas, you just register your domain name, set it to auto-renew, and it stays active as long as you want. Pretty easy.
Domain ID protection is $4.89 per year across all domain names at Skystra. This includes full WHOIS privacy and protection against unauthorized transfers. Considering most domain registrations are selling this for $15 and up, it’s a pretty solid deal.
Their domain dashboard is plain with no frills, but simple enough to use. You can manage your nameservers, domain lock, and domain transfers. Skystra doesn’t charge anything extra for transferring your domain name away and makes it easy to do directly from your domains dashboard.
Although Skystra isn’t the cheapest, they are a solid domain registrar for getting a domain name and locking in a fair price. They also have great deals on website hosting, you can read our full Skystra review to find out more.
Register your domain name with Skystra!
Domain.com has probably the best domain name when it comes to domain registrars. Their focus is providing a great place for small to medium size businesses to register domain names at a fair price.
They offer most domain name extensions and several country specific TLDs as well. Similar to GoDaddy, they also have a domain brokerage service where they act as the middleman to buy and sell domains on behalf of individuals and businesses.
Their .com domain names are reasonably priced at $8.99 per year, with domain ID protection and privacy also for $8.99. They are also in the business of giving great deals, it’s common to find more quirky domain names on sale for their first year of registrations, like .me for $2.99, .asia for $4.99, .info for $3.99 and many more. It’s easy to search for their special deals using their domain name extension listings.
Domain.com has a lot of extra services and they pop up during the domain registration process similar to GoDaddy, but at fairer prices. You can get a basic website builder or website hosting for $1.99 per month along with your new domain name registration. Although watch out for paid SSL certificates and security that really increase the amount you’ll pay.
Domain.com has a very clean and easy to use interface for domain management, although sometimes the platform would start running slow when clicking around. Domain transfers away are easy enough and there aren’t any additional fees.
Register your domain name with Domain.com!
NameCheap is a popular domain name registrar. As their name suggests, they’re all about offering domain name registrations at a cheap price.
Searching for a single domain name is very easy on NameCheap, if for any reason your domain name isn’t available, they offer plenty of alternative TLD suggestions.
One tool we absolutely love is the Beast Mode tool. It acts as a domain name generator by giving you advanced filters. You can search for a domain name based on price range, spelling and TLD variations, or modifications to your domain name prefix and suffix. You can even narrow down your TLD search to an industry niche including academic, finance, professional, business, travel, etc.
The Beast Mode tool is the only one of its kind we found among domain registrars, and really makes NameCheap shine. In terms of pricing, NameCheap delivers, .com domain names are $8.88 per year and renew at $12.98, which is fair. On multi-year registrations, you get bigger discounts.
They add an “ICANN fee” on registrations, although minimal at $0.18, it wasn’t an extra fee we were expecting to pay. On the plus side, NameCheap also offers domain ID protection and privacy for free and states it’s always free.
NameCheap always has a bunch of domain name deals running. For new customers, you can get a .com for $5.98 the first year, .us domain names for $2.98, and .me for $5.88. New deals and coupons are released daily. If you love a deal, NameCheap will have one for you.
One drawback to NameCheap is that their domain management panel is a bit buggy and loads slow. Although most actions can get done, you might be clicking more than you’d like and waiting on support to perform simple actions for you.
Register your domain name with NameCheap!
Bluehost is a large and well-known website hosting provider. They are also a solid domain registrar.
When you sign up to a new Bluehost shared or WordPress hosting plan, you automatically qualify for a free domain name registration for one year. There are two catches, you’ll have to sign up to an annual web hosting contract to get the free domain name. Also, if you cancel your hosting contract before the term is up, Bluehost will charge you a non-refundable domain name registration fee.
Bluehost web hosting plans start at $2.75 per month, considering how cheap it is, the free domain name is solid value. You can read our full Bluehost review to find out more.
For just a domain name registration, .com domain names are $12.99 per year. However, domain ID protection and privacy are $11.88 per year.
Bluehost makes it very easy to manage your domain name. You can manage nameservers, transfers, locks, and ownership from one spot from your customer portal. However, one problem our team consistently ran into was slow loading times. One time, it took three minutes to change a DNS setting. If you’re patient, everything else is pretty easy.
Register your domain name with Bluehost!
NameSilo is a new domain registrar. Their popularity really grew in the last few years and they’re known for great deals and cheap domain names, so we’ve included them on our list.
We’ll admit, the NameSilo website looks a bit dated, however their domain name tools make up for it. They have a domain Marketplace, which is almost like an eBay for domain names. Basically, you can sell, bid on, and buy domain names in real-time.
There are advanced filters available inside the domain Marketplace that let you search for domain names based on domain age, extension, industry, character count, dashes, numbers, and existing bids. If you see a domain name that catches your eye, you can add it to your watchlist. For the domain junkies out there, this is where you want to be.
On pricing, NameSilo definitely delivers on value, .com domain names are $8.99 per year. There are also tons of promotions and coupons, we found some awesome deals like .co for $1.99, .us for $2.29, .cloud for $2.29, and the list goes on. NameSilo understands people love a deal, we certainly do.
Domain ID protection and privacy is also free on all registrations, which is great. However, when you’re checking out, watch out for addons and extra being added to your cart automatically.
We found the domain mangagement platform on NameSilo dated and basic similar to their website. One last note, you can also do a domain name bulk search if you have many domain names you need to register in one shot, nice time saver.
Register your domain name with NameSilo!
Hover is another popular domain name registrar. It is owned by Tucows (TSE: TC), an internet services company.
At first glance, Hover’s website is much more straightforward and decluttered than most domain registrars. There’s a domain search bar right at the top that lets you search for new domain names, transfer existing ones, or renew domain names.
Their simplistic approach also comes through in the domain search process. If your domain name is available, you can register it right away. No extra services are added to your cart, just the domain name you picked.
If your domain name isn’t available, Hover lists several alternatives. There’s a handy search filter that lets you sift through all of the available options by industry, including tech, business, lifestyle, real estate, and many more. You can even search country specific TLDs by global region. It’s a handy tool that refines your domain search and makes sure you don’t skip over any options.
In terms of pricing, Hover stacks up well – .com domain names are $12.99 and include free domain ID protection and privacy. You can also grab solid deals on popular TLDs, we found .online for sale at $4.99, .me for $9.99, and .us for $4.99. These are all on first year periods and go up with renewal, but renewal pricing is fair.
Domain management is super easy on the Hover platform, the only drawback being that support working hours are from 8am to 8pm (EST). You don’t need much support when it comes to domain names, however considering most domain registrars offer 24×7 support, it can be a drawback for some.
Register your domain name with Hover!
8. Google Domains
Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), a major tech company, although lower on our list, definitely tops it in terms of simplicity in pricing and management.
There can be a lot of extra frills when purchasing a domain name from a domain registrar, not at Google Domains. As is typical with Google, their clean interface makes it easy to search for and register new domain names.
There are no upsells, which is refreshing. You simply search, select, and purchase. One great very “Google-esque” and smart feature are the insights provided by Google when you search for a domain name. They’ll list the advantages or disadvantages to the domain name you selected based on its length, ability to pronounce, and remember. That’s a unique feature we didn’t find elsewhere.
Given the size of Google and its reach across industries, it can provide domain names at a reduced cost. You can get popular TLDS like .com, .info, .org domain names for $12 per year, with ID protection included for free. That’s quite the deal.
The Google Domains platform is simple to use and great for beginners. Surprisingly, you get access to email, chat, and telephone support as well.
Register your domain name with Google Domains!
We hope our best domain registrars in 2022 guide helps you find the right domain registrar to purchase a new domain name from.
Our goal was to inform you of some domain name basics, cover the top domain registrars, and the best places to buy a domain name.
Once you’ve registered a domain name, you are ready to build your website. Make sure to check out our guides on the best WordPress hosting services in 2022, best website builders in 2022, and if you’re on a super tight budget, take a look at our best free website hosting in 2022 for some solid options!
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