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      How to Change Your Domain Without Hurting SEO and Losing Website Traffic

      If you’re a freelancer or a small business owner, chances are you’ve had to learn by doing. This works really well for many things (perhaps excluding rocket science).

      While this learn-as-you-go approach can take you far in the technical realm, it can occasionally have its downsides. For instance, changing your entire website domain, all your site’s URLs, all the organic history that comes along with it, may not be the best area to “wing it.” You risk causing substantial harm to your online presence.

      The good news is that you can change your domain name. And you can do so without permanently impacting your SEO. And we’ll show how to do it, right here in this post.

      What a deal!

      In this post, we’ll first cover a few reasons why you might change your domain name, as well as the potential SEO dangers of doing so. Then, we’ll show you how to modify your domain without damaging your site’s visibility. Let’s get started!

      Why You May Want to Change Your Domain Name (Common Reasons)

      For many website owners, choosing a domain name is one of the most important decisions they can make when crafting an online presence. While some may get lucky and select a domain that lasts a lifetime, it’s possible that your domain name needs changing at some point:

      searching for the right domain name

      Here are just a few reasons you might want to consider a domain change:

      • Rebranding. Many of the best online businesses will either evolve or pivot in order to succeed in the competitive e-commerce marketplace. You may need to update your domain name to reflect your site’s new image.
      • Copyright issues. Even the most well-intentioned entrepreneur can make a mistake. If you find out that your domain name is infringing on someone’s intellectual property, you will likely need to change it to prevent legal issues.
      • Growth. Your small business may need to modify its domain in order to expand. For example, if your old domain name is too specific, you might need to change it to something more general.
      • Relocation. If you run an online store, moving locations may not be a very big deal. However, if your domain has a country code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD) such as .us or .ca, you might need to modify it to avoid confusion.

      These are just a few common scenarios that may require you to register a new domain name. However, you might have other reasons. For instance, maybe you’ve been monitoring your ideal domain and found that it’s become available. There’s nothing wrong with upgrading simply because you’ve found something better.

      The (Avoidable) Dangers of Changing Your Domain Name

      If you’re considering changing your domain name, chances are you already know a bit about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In a nutshell, SEO is when you make an intentional effort to get your pages to rank higher in Google’s search engine results. For most site owners and digital marketers, SEO and site performance are a top priority these days.

      Therefore, you’ve likely heard some horror stories about people changing their domain and losing all their hard-earned rankings. This type of loss can have serious consequences for any business. That’s because when your site is no longer visible, new visitors won’t be able to find it, and search engines won’t show it in search results.

      While this can happen, you don’t need to panic. As long as you follow SEO best practices and change your domain name the right way, you can avoid most of the damage to your search engine rankings. What’s more, you can even minimize other inconveniences, like unnecessary downtime.

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      How to Change Your Domain Name Without Hurting SEO

      Now that you know some of the common motivations for modifying a domain name, and how it could affect your website, you’re probably wondering how to do it with minimal side effects. Here are five steps you can follow to change your domain name without damaging your site’s visibility.

      Step 1: Choose a New Domain Name with Lasting Power

      The first step is to simply choose a good domain name. For starters, you’ll want to pick a domain with an appropriate Top-Level Domain (TLD).

      It’s also a good idea to make your new domain easy to spell, type, and pronounce. That way, you can avoid visitors becoming frustrated by frequent typos. It will also encourage users to share your domain name verbally.

      You’ll also want to make sure that your new domain offers flexibility. This will help ensure that it can grow with your online business and avoid the need for another name change in the future.

      You may also want to use a more advanced tool, such as ahrefs Backlink Checker. This can further help you determine if a domain name is viable, or if you’d need to disavow unwanted backlinks in order to use it. Once you’re satisfied with your research, you can go ahead and buy your new domain name.

      Step 2: Audit Backlinks & Referring Domains

      Even though you’ve picked the right domain name, you’re not quite ready to make the switch yet. Before you make any sudden changes, you would be wise to conduct a thorough audit of all the places where your old domain appears online.

      For instance, you may have it listed in all your social media bios or in your Google Business Profile:

      Google Business Profile

      Some people may recommend running an audit as a last step, but you’ll want to minimize the time that your old website is listed in these locations. Therefore, it’s best to be prepared and get it done beforehand. It’s important that you make note of all these locations, so you can return to this list later to update your domain.

      Step 3: Migrate Your Site to the New Domain

      After you’ve purchased your shiny new domain name and conducted your audit, you’re ready to get your hands dirty. It’s time to migrate your website to the new domain.

      This process will vary depending on your hosting provider. However, it can be a bit tricky, as it requires moving all of your site’s files and databases.

      If you plan to do it manually, you’ll need to use a Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) client, such as FileZilla:


      If you’re not confident that you can complete the migration process on your own, you might consider hiring a WordPress developer. You could also check whether your hosting provider offers this service.

      For example, all DreamHost plans come with free migration services, which include WordPress domain transfers. So, if you’ve been meaning to change your hosting provider, now might be a good time to do it.

      Step 4: Set Up Redirects

      Now that you’ve migrated your site, you’ll need to start mapping URLs by setting up permanent (301) redirects. Essentially, a redirect takes users visiting an old URL to your new one. This will be essential for minimizing the negative effects of changing your domain, as broken links can damage your SEO.

      Unless you’re comfortable accessing your site’s core files, the quickest and easiest way to set up your redirects is with a WordPress plugin, such as Redirection:

      Redirection Plugin

      There are many types of redirects, but the 301 redirect is the best option for this scenario. That’s because it’s permanent and will transfer the SEO value of your old pages. Even if you’re using a plugin, you’ll want to do this transition carefully. That way, you can avoid creating redirect errors, which might damage your site’s performance and hurt your SEO.

      Step 5: Update Online SEO Tools & Search Console

      Now, all that’s left to do is wrap up with some digital housekeeping and tell Google, “Hey, I moved my site.” You’ll want to do this immediately after migrating your site and setting up your redirects to avoid any long-term damage to your site’s search engine visibility.

      First, navigate to Google Search Console, to verify your new domain name and submit a Change of Address. This way, Google is made aware of the change and you can continue to monitor your site’s indexing in the search engine rankings:

      Google Search Console

      Additionally, if you have an active Google Analytics account, now is a good time to update it to reflect your new website’s location. You’ll need to repeat this process for any other SEO tools you use. Finally, you can revisit the list you created in your audit (step two) and change all those URL mentions to your new domain name.

      Change Your Domain Name the Right Way

      There are many reasons you may not want to stick with the original domain name you chose for your website. Luckily, you can change your domain with relative ease. However, you’ll need to do it carefully, so you don’t cause your site to drop in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

      Looking for an easy way to ensure that your site does well in the search rankings? Consider leaving the SEO work to DreamHost’s professionals when you sign up for our Pro Services!

      Search Engine Optimization Made Easy

      We take the guesswork (and actual work) out of growing your website traffic with SEO.

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      How to Transfer Your Domain Registration to DreamHost (4 Steps)

      So you’ve got a website. Or maybe you juggle multiple websites and domain names. Perhaps you’re unsatisfied with your current registrar, or you’ve found you’re managing too many different things in too many different places.

      If so, it might be time to consider transferring your domain registration. And you might want to consider transferring it to DreamHost.

      Wondering How to Move a Domain Name to a New Host?

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      Why You Should Consider Transferring Your Domain to DreamHost

      1. You Want to Manage Everything in One Place 

      A while back, we surveyed some of our customers, and they told us the No. 1 benefit of using DreamHost was that it gave them the ability to manage as much as possible in one place. 

      More specifically, 60% of customers we asked said the main benefit of using DreamHost was the ability to manage several websites and domains from a single location

      So if you are running several websites under several different registrars, moving them all to one place would make life a whole lot easier.

      2. You’re Being Charged Too Much for Renewals 

      Like any service, prices vary, and those costs can increase when it’s time to renew. If you feel you’re being charged too much for domain registration renewals, the obvious solution is to change registrars.

      3. Support is Lacking 

      As with price, the support offered by different service providers varies a lot. If you’re not getting the help you need from your current registrar, it may be worth moving to one that can fill the gap (like DreamHost). 

      4. You’d Like to Move a Domain from One DreamHost Account to Another

      If you run many websites, there’s always a chance you’re going to be taking over a domain owned by someone using DreamHost. Should this happen, we allow you to transfer domain ownership from one person to another quickly and with minimal effort. 

      In this situation, the easiest solution is just to continue using DreamHost (and potentially move your other domains over too).

      Need-to-Knows When Transferring a Domain

      Understanding what is and isn’t possible when transferring domains can save you tons of time further down the line and help ensure a smooth and pain-free domain transfer. 

      With that in mind, here are a few things you need to know before you start the process of transferring a domain registration.

      1. Only Certain TLDs Are Allowed

      At DreamHost, we support certain TLDs for transfer. However, it’s actually only a handful of TLDs that cannot be transferred. These are: .AM, .AT, .BZ, .FM, .JP, .NET.NZ, .ORG.NZ, .NGO, .ONG, .OOO, and .WS. 

      For more information, you can check out DreamHost’s TLD page for a current list of domain extensions with pricing.

      Additionally, there are also some New TLDs and ccTLDs which are considered premium domains — for example, .LIVE, .ME, and others. DreamHost cannot accept transferring premium domains due to the pricing structures that vary from one registrar to another. 

      If you’d like to use a premium domain for your website, you’ll need to register it directly with Enom or another registrar that sells premium domains. Then you can host the site on your DreamHost account like any other domain. 

      2. Beware of the ICANN 60-day Transfer Lock

      Did you know you can’t transfer your domain during the first 60 days of registration? You need to wait until day 61.

      It’s also worth remembering that you cannot transfer a domain if your last transfer took place within the previous 60 days.

      And remember, transferring a registration only moves your domain. If you’d like to transfer your web hosting service to DreamHost, we can help with that too.

      3. Downtime Can Happen If You Don’t Get Your Nameservers Sorted First

      It’s important to know that if you decide to change your nameservers to DreamHost after completing a transfer, you may experience some downtime. Changes to the nameservers cannot be made while the domain is pending transfer. 

      We recommend that you start the transfer at least a month in advance — this will make sure your domain registration does not expire during the transfer. 

      What Should You Do Before You Request a Domain Transfer?

      We recommend completing three super simple steps before you make your transfer request. This is because of ICANN’s Transfer Policy, which means that following a transfer, changes made to the registrant’s name, organization, or email address will be put on a 60-day lock

      1. Unlock the domain registration. This is done with your current registrar.
      2. Obtain the auth code, also known as the EPP. You can get this from your current registrar.
      3. Remove WHOIS privacy. This is done through your current registrar. This allows your new registrar to recognize the new owner.

      Now you’ve completed all the preparation, it’s time to transfer your domain to DreamHost. The whole process is pretty simple, but just to be sure, here’s what you need to do. 

      How to Transfer Your Domain to DreamHost in 4 Steps

      Four steps — it’s that easy! Let’s walk you through the process of transferring your domain to DreamHost.

      1. Request the Transfer-In With Dreamhost

      Start by logging in to your DreamHost account. You can do that here. If you don’t have an account yet, you can create one here

      From there, you are going to need to navigate to the Reg Transfer page. There you will find a button labeled Start Transfer to DreamHost — click that. 

      DreamHost’s list of info for what you need to know before starting a domain transfer.

      Have you done that? Cool. You should now see this:

      Requesting a domain transfer in the DreamHost panel. 

      In this section, all you need to do is add the domain(s) you would like to transfer to DreamHost and click Request Transfer

      2. Enter your Auth Code, WHOIS Info, and Nameservers

      Now you need to fill in details to show you are the owner of that domain(s). If you want your contact details to stay hidden, just tick the I want all my contact information private button.

      This is free, by the way. We don’t like unnecessary charges!

      Checkbox for making WHOIS contact info private

      You should now see a section asking you to enter all your WHOIS information. As you might suspect, you need to make sure all your details are valid and correct and that you have followed the ICANN policy we mentioned earlier.

      The WHOIS section looks like this:

      Empty WHOIS information fields to be filled out.

      See that little checkbox at the top? If you click that, it will use these details to automatically fill in the four contact fields on the domain registration’s internal ownership details. These are:

      • Admin
      • Billing
      • Registrant
      • Technical details

      The following section is the Auth Code field.

      Your current registrar should have provided you with either an Auth Code or EPP code. Make sure you fill in the fields with the code exactly as provided to you.

      Once that’s done, you should see the following:

      Filling out nameserver information with the “Use another host’s nameservers” option clicked.

      Choose either Use DreamHost’s nameservers (this automatically sets DreamHost’s nameservers for you) or Use another host’s nameservers (you should choose this if you’d like to enter outside name servers manually). 

      Make sure you have read the Registration’s Terms, and click Continue

      You now need to pay for the transfer. 

      3. Pay for Your Domain Transfer

      If you have a free domain registration with your current registrar, you won’t be charged by DreamHost. If you don’t have a free domain registration, you will need to pay for it here. 

      To complete this step, you first need to review your order. 

      Reviewing order total for ‘Transfer + 1 year registration’

      If you need to pay for the transfer, you will know because the fee will appear in the Order Summary. 

      Click the Proceed to Payment Entry button. You then need to confirm the payment, so press the Submit Transfer Request button. 

      Notification showing ‘Transfer Initiated’ submitted and next steps. 

      On the next screen, you simply need to enter your payment details and click the confirmation button. You should now see that the transfer has been initiated.

      Notification showing ‘Transfer Initiated’ submitted and next steps.

      Navigate to the Reg Transfer page, and if all is well, you will be able to see confirmation that the transfer is pending. 

      Example of a pending transfer in the DreamHost panel. 

      When the transfer has completed, payment will be taken from your bank account. 

      Let’s move on to the last step. 

      4. Check That the Domain Status and EPP Code Are Verified, and Transfer Request Is Submitted to the Current Registrar

      Once the transfer is completed, the authorization code and EPP are verified with your current registrar. 

      The registrar then has five days to release the domain to DreamHost, and the transfer will complete within the seven days after. 

      You can confirm the status by running a quick WHOIS check. If the transfer fails, you can get more help by contacting our support team

      There you go — four simple steps as promised!

      That said, there are little things that can go wrong. Let’s discuss some of the most common domain transfer problems our team here at DreamHost comes across and how they can be fixed without needing to contact support. 

      Ready to Switch Your Domain Registrar?

      Search DreamHost’s 400+ TLDs to find the perfect URL for your website.

      3 Common Domain Transfer Issues

      While the steps involved in transferring a domain are simple, that doesn’t guarantee everything will run without a hitch. There are several factors involved, and if you have issues, it could be for one of the following reasons. 

      1. Some domains update their auth code internally. For example, the .org registry has many security measures and can often change EPP codes automatically. If you see this happening, you need to contact your current registrar. You’ll then need to reset the auth code and resubmit the domain transfer request. 
      2. Some domains are transfer locked. You can establish whether this is an issue by looking at the WHOIS information and checking for the following: Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited. If you see this, you’ll have to contact your current registrar to have it unlocked. Once that’s done, you then need to resubmit the domain transfer in DreamHost.
      3. Intermittent issues with the DNS. After a transfer, you may see this issue. This is usually down to domains having previously used DNSSEC. Find out how to fix it in this article. 

      Still running into issues? Check our Knowledge Base or contact support.

      Master Your Domain at DreamHost

      It’s not uncommon for website owners to start with one domain registrar and later move to another. Over time many of us realize we rushed the initial registration process, didn’t do due research, and wound up being charged too much for too little.

      If this includes you, moving your domain registration — to DreamHost or any other registrar — is much simpler than you might at first think.

      In short, you simply need to:

      1. Request the Transfer-In with DreamHost (or your chosen registrar)
      2. Enter the auth code, WHOIS, and nameservers 
      3. Pay for your transfer 
      4. Wait for your domain status and EPP code to be verified and for your transfer request to be submitted to your current 

      If you’d like to register a new domain, we can help with that too! DreamHost .COM domains cost $7.99 a year and come with free, private registration, while other domains start from less than $1/year. Find out more here.

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      How to Choose the Right Domain Name

      Which is harder: Naming your kid or choosing a domain? 

      Sure, your bambino is stuck with the moniker you choose until they can get a judge to change it, but you won’t need to reinvent the wheel to come up with something to call them. You can look to historical figures, literary characters, or even your favorite TV show for inspiration. 

      However, when it comes to a domain, you’ve got to make sure your digital baby is truly unique. No repeats allowed.

      So what makes a good domain name? 

      Generally speaking, you’ll want something memorable, brandable, and easy for people to type and pronounce. It’s also smart to avoid anything too long or overly specific. By following a few simple guidelines, you can pick out a name that helps to drive more traffic your way. 

      In this guide, I’ll explain why your domain name matters and share 11 factors to consider when making this decision. I’ll also discuss the best places to register a domain and how you can get a free one along with your web hosting. Let’s get started!

      Your Great Idea Starts with a Domain Name

      Don’t let someone else register your dream URL. Search DreamHost’s 400+ TLDs to find the perfect match for your website.

      Why Your Domain Name Matters

      Your domain name is as much a part of your brand as your business name or logo. Even if you’ve nailed your branding in every other respect, if there’s something about your domain name that puts potential customers off, they’ll likely go elsewhere.

      The opposite is also true. If your web address is accurate and as fun to say as it is to use, people will be eager to check it out and share it. First impressions matter, and sometimes your domain is the initial experience people will have of your brand. 

      It’s also not easy to change your domain name after your site is online. You can do it, but it can be time-consuming and does have consequences. It can lead to a loss of traffic and unnecessary downtime. In other words, life will be a lot easier if you take your time now and come up with a name you love.

      11 Important Factors to Consider When Choosing a Domain Name

      As with most big business decisions, you’ll find plenty of opinions about how to select the right domain name. To make it easier, let’s take a look at eleven key points to consider.

      1. Choose Your Top-Level Domain Extension Carefully

      A Top Level Domain (TLD) is the piece of your domain that comes after the site’s name. The most common TLDs are .com, .net, and .org.

      There are plenty of newer TLD options, but it’s usually best to keep it old school and stick to .com if possible. It’s been around the longest and is the most popular, so people are very familiar with it.

      Of course, it’s possible you won’t be able to secure a decent domain name with a .com TLD since many are already taken. However, it’s not the end of the world if you have to use an alternative.

      Alternative TLD options.

      You’ll find tons of available options that can add personality to your web address. Just make sure that whatever you select makes sense for your website and audience.

      2. Incorporate Keywords Strategically

      Keywords aren’t just for content. Search engines use your domain name to understand what your site is about and help determine search rankings. So it’s essential to include keywords where possible. 

      The keywords you choose for your domain name should be relevant to your website. It’s much more important to represent your content accurately than to add keywords for their own sake. If you’re stuck for ideas, you can give Google Keyword Planner a try.

      The Google Keyword Planner home page.

      This free tool lets you explore keywords by search volume and other factors to identify terms people actually use. Don’t get too carried away, though. Using too many keywords, especially popular ones, can make your site seem boring and maybe even a little untrustworthy.

      3. Make Sure Your Domain Is Easy to Pronounce and Spell

      You probably want your domain name to be memorable. However, if you’re thinking of going the Elon Musk baby-naming route, don’t. No matter how cool it looks spelled out, there will come a time when you’ll have to give someone your website or email address verbally.

      Word-of-mouth is still powerful advertising. What’s more, it only works when people can actually pronounce your domain. This also makes the name easier to remember, increasing the odds that people will visit and pass the site along to their networks.

      4. Avoid Hyphens

      Using hyphens may seem like a creative way to get the domain name you want. Unfortunately, they’re tough to express verbally. They also make the domain more difficult to type. Some people will likely forget about them entirely and end up on someone else’s website.

      Generally, when you’re brainstorming domain name ideas, try to avoid anything that isn’t a letter. That includes replacing letters with numbers. Those kinds of touches make the name a lot easier for people to misremember and mistype.

      5. Avoid Using Doubled Letters

      Using doubled letters in a domain name is practically asking for typos. Doubled letters are hard to read and even harder to type correctly.

      If mistakes happen often enough, you may end up with someone typosquatting and stealing your traffic. Plus, having to spend even a few seconds longer than necessary trying to figure out how to spell your domain is an unnecessary distraction.

      6. Keep Your Domain Name Short

      There are several reasons short domain names work better. First, shorter names are easier to remember and type. Therefore, they are beneficial for branding purposes.

      Also, an overly long domain name is yet another way to look suspicious. If you don’t use too many keywords and make your name easy to pronounce, on the other hand, your domain will probably be short naturally.

      7. Stay Unique and Brandable

      A unique domain name can help your business stand out and potentially help you avoid legal trouble. It can also contribute to your marketing efforts, so you’ll want it to be brandable. 

      StitchFix is an excellent example of a unique, brandable name.

      The StitchFix homepage.

      StitchFix checks all the boxes when it comes to marketable domain names. It’s fun to say, doesn’t have any inherent meaning, and is easy to remember and spell.

      8. Pick a Domain Name That’s Flexible

      Your domain name is one area where you don’t want to paint yourself into a box. While you should be specific enough to attract an audience, you don’t want to be so precise that there’s no room for your website to grow. 

      For example, “” might be perfect for a photography blog. However, if you decide to write about other art forms as well, you’ll be stuck with an inaccurate domain name. So it’s smart to consider upfront how your site or business may expand over time.

      9. Do Your Domain Name Research

      Once you’ve narrowed your search down to a few candidates, you can use a research tool to determine if it’s available.

      DreamHost’s domain name research tool.

      However, just because the domain name is available doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t have a valid claim to it. To be safe, you’ll want to perform a trademark search before making your choice.

      It’s also best to make sure you can secure appropriate social media handles. If you can’t get an exact match, try finding something that makes sense with your domain name.

      10. Don’t Get Analysis Paralysis

      Chances are that if you want a domain name, someone else probably wants it too. If you’re sure about your choice, go ahead and buy the domain.

      This is especially recommended if it’s reasonably inexpensive. Plus, if you come up with something better later on, you can always let the registration lapse. You don’t want to end up in a dispute because you didn’t act fast.

      11. Protect Your Brand With Multiple Domains

      Have you ever heard: “If the shoe fits, buy it in every color?” Well, if the domain name fits, buy it in every TLD.

      Even if you manage to snag a coveted .com address, you might consider purchasing other options and setting up redirects. You can even go a step further and buy common misspellings of your domain name.

      Additional domain name suggestions using different TLDs.

      This is a smart strategy to apply to social media as well. Even if you don’t think you’ll use Twitter, you might want to grab a decent handle if one is available. You’ll be ready if you ever decide to tweet, and you’ll prevent anyone else from taking that username.

      Picking the Best Place to Register Your Domain

      Once you’ve picked out a domain name, you need to choose a domain registrar, which is the company where you’ll purchase it. When shopping around for a registrar, here are a few things to keep an eye on:

      • Domain transfers. Check out the registrar’s transfer policy. If it’s complicated or expensive, keep looking.
      • Pricing. Some companies offer lower prices for the first year and then increase them when it’s time for renewal. You may even be locked into a multi-year contract.
      • Expiration policy. You don’t buy a domain so much as rent it. If you forget to renew the lease, someone else can take it from you. Look for a registrar that offers automatic renewals and a grace period.
      • Domain privacy protection. As a website owner, you’re required to add your personal information to a public database. Domain privacy protection hides your primary contact information to help keep your identity secure.
      • Subdomains. You don’t have to register subdomains separately. However, you’ll want to ensure that your registrar makes it easy to add subdomains to your site.

      There are plenty of registrars you can use. However, sometimes it makes sense to register your domain through your hosting provider.

      How to Get a Free Domain With Your Web Hosting

      Some web hosts offer a free domain name when you sign up for a hosting plan. You may have to pay for renewal at the end of the first year, but it’s not typically expensive. You also won’t have to worry about migrating your domain if you register it through your hosting provider.

      At DreamHost, we offer a free domain name when you sign up for one of our Shared or DreamPress hosting plans. Once you’ve selected the right option for you, just click on Register a new domain.

      DreamHost’s free domain with annual web hosting.

      You’ll be prompted to search for your desired domain name. Simply add your domain to your cart and complete the checkout process!

      So Many Potential Domain Names . . .

      There’s a lot to think about when choosing a domain name. After all, it’s one of the first major decisions you’ll make when establishing your online presence. Putting some time and care into this selection can help set the stage for success down the road.

      Fortunately, there’s lots of information you can rely on to help you make your choice. Keeping your domain name short, pronounceable, and easy to remember will get you off to a strong start. Once you have a name in mind, you can follow our suggestions for choosing a registrar and getting a free domain with your web hosting provider.

      Have you settled on the perfect domain name for your website? Get a free private domain registration when you sign up with DreamHost!

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