What Is a Custom Domain: Benefits (& How to Get One)

A custom domain is a unique and branded domain name that serves as an identifier of a website or business name. Also known as personalized domains or vanity URLs, custom domains are visible in the address bar of all web browsers. For example, here on Host Advice, our custom domain is http://www.hostadvice.com.

In this article, we will explain how to choose the perfect custom domain for your business when you want to build a website, including exploring all the benefits of having a custom domain, and how to get yours, step-by-step.

Takeaways
  • Custom domains enhance brand credibility and online presence by providing a unique and professional web address, like www.hostadvice.com
  • They offer SEO advantages, making websites more discoverable and distinguished from competitors.
  • Prices vary, with options for acquiring free domains or subdomains from various providers.
  • Different platforms like Gmail and GitHub allow custom domains with varying setup procedures.
  • For businesses, having a distinctive domain is vital for creating lasting impressions and improving web traffic and sales.

What Is a Custom Domain Name?

A custom domain is an exclusive web address and often matches its owner’s name. For example, Tesla displays its car models on its website www.tesla.com.

From a technical perspective, a custom domain serves as a user-friendly address for your website. It allows people to access websites by typing in names instead of complex numbers, connecting IP addresses, similar to how a street address simplifies finding a physical store.

Custom domains also enhance website security by enabling data encryption between users’ browsers, servers, and websites.

This is crucial for protecting sensitive information during online transactions, just like how we lock doors to keep our homes safe.

What Is the Difference between a Domain and a Custom Domain?

A domain is an address for a website that serves users with different interests and purposes. Facebook is an example of a domain where you can find various profiles by using facebook.com and usernames to search.

On the other hand, a custom domain is a specific domain name customized to represent a brand, business, or person. Apple, for instance, has the web address www.apple.com that allows customers to buy products directly with them.

Notice that Apple also has a page on Facebook – generic domains and custom domains are not mutually exclusive. Your business can have both.

What Is the Difference between a Subdomain and a Custom Domain?

Another comparison to understand the difference between a subdomain and a custom domains.

Do you remember how it was reading personal blogs 15 years ago?

Most of them, as a hobby, were created integrating the subdomain of a provider. For example, if you were crazy about cats, you could be the proud owner of “catlover.wordpress.com” or “welovecats.blogspot.com” subdomains.

In this case, “catlover” or “welovecats” is a subdomain, while “wordpress” or “blogspot” is a regular domain.

Regular SubdomainCustom domain
catlover.worpress.comcatlover.com
welovecats.blogspot.comwelovecats.club
mycat.wixsite.commycat.net
catfood.myshopify.comcatfood.vip

The problem with those regular subdomains, as you can imagine, is that besides looking unprofessional, they were harder to memorize – two qualities you do not want to associate with your business.

Benefits of Custom Domains

Beyond serving as a digital address, custom domains act as a strategic asset with significant implications for both the short and long-term perspectives. Discover their main benefits and how they directly benefit your online presence.

  1. Credibility and authority boost: A custom domain functions as your digital front door. It signals to your customers that your business is not an amateur hobby – or worse, a scam! After all, it’s easier to buy services from a company that owns the custom domain www.ExpertFinanceAdvice.com than from a generic domain like www.FinanceTips123.wixsite.com.
  2. Memorability: A custom domain is easier to remember than a long URL with a generic subdomain or extension. The table we created in the previous section (comparing personal blog domains) is the perfect example of how custom domains improve memorability.
  3. Brand identity: A custom domain allows you to align your website’s address with your brand name, reinforcing brand consistency.
  4. Differentiation from competitors: A custom domain also sets your business apart from its competitors. Consider two online clothing stores, one with a custom domain like “StylishTrends.com” and another using a generic subdomain like “ClothingShop.example.com.”. Which one shows more professionalism? The custom domain, of course!
  5. Discoverability: Search engines tend to favor websites with custom domains over those with generic subdomains. Your custom domain can then improve your website’s discoverability and rankings in search engines, such as Google and Bing.

How Much Does a Custom Domain Cost?

Final: What Is a Custom Domain: Benefits & How to Get One

A custom domain usually varies from $0.99 to $129.99, depending on how popular or premium a domain name is.

Top-level domains (TLDs) are another factor that changes how much a custom domain costs. Common options (such as .com and .club) tend to be cheaper, while specific ones (for example, .tech and .host) cost more.

But you do not have to pay for every custom domain, as many top domain registrars offer a free domain name option.

You can also get a free subdomain if you use a free website builder. This is a great way to launch a custom URL without spending a lot of money on a domain name.

Is It Worth Having a Custom Domain?

Yes! A custom domain is particularly valuable for businesses looking to create a distinct online brand and improve search engine visibility, as it can enhance SEO efforts and leave a lasting impression on users, which can lead to increased website traffic and sales rates.

What Is an Example of a Custom Domain?

You are using a custom domain every day – even if you have not noticed yet. Here is a selection of some of the most popular domain providers and their options:

Gmail custom domain

You can set up a domain for your email using Gmail by using Google Workspace, which is not free and is priced per user per month. This allows you to use Gmail for your professional email addresses, such as “yourname@yourcompany.com.”

Github Pages custom domain

GitHub Pages allows you to host your website on GitHub. You can associate account domains with your repository. GitHub Pages itself is free, but you need to purchase a domain separately from a third-party domain registrar.

Google Sites custom domain

Google Sites lets you create a website for your business, but you need to purchase a custom domain separately from a domain registrar, such as Google Domains.

iCloud custom domain

iCloud does not offer the purchase service, by upgrading to iCloud+, you can attach an existing branded domain to your email domain.

ProtonMail custom domain

ProtonMail allows users to set up a custom email domain with ProtonMail for enhanced privacy and security. They offer both free and paid plans, with the latter option including domain support.

Best Practices for Choosing Custom Domain Names

Selecting the perfect root domain for your business domain name can be a stressful task, especially if you are familiar with the best components of a domain name. To master it, you can follow these 4 rules in your process:

  • Keep it short: Short domain names are not only easier to remember but also project a professional image for your online presence.
  • Make it unique: A distinctive domain name can set your business apart from the rest, inducing curious visitors to understand its meaning.
  • Hint at what you do: Your domain should provide a subtle clue about your business or industry, to make it easier for people to remember your offers.
  • Don’t overcomplicate things: Avoid adding unnecessary words or random numbers to your domain name and let your customers focus on your brand.

How to Get a Custom Domain Name

Each platform defines a different procedure to concede your new custom domain name. However, we can anticipate you will be conducted in a process similar to the checklist above:

  • Search your desired name: Kick off your search for the perfect domain name, just as Apple did when they secured “Apple.com” for their brand.
  • If the name is taken, try different variations or domain extensions: An example is opting-in for different top-level domains (TLDs), such as .net, .co, or even .app.
  • Add domain protection and privacy to your cart: Prioritize the security of your online identity by including domain protection and privacy services in your shopping cart.
  • Purchase alternatives for your custom domain: Even if you get your desired name, buying different TLDs for the same name is a way of protecting your brand.
  • Select your term of registration: Choose the registration period that suits your needs, whether it’s a one-year commitment, a multi-year registration, or even a decade-long registration.
  • Buy an email domain and other add-ons: Many domain registrars offer email hosting services, allowing you to set up custom email addresses using your domain.
  • Enter your payment info: Most registrars accept credit cards, PayPal, and various other forms of payment. It’s essential to review the registrar’s pricing structure, including the initial registration cost and renewal fees.
  • Connect your domain to your hosting account: Integrate your domain with your other hosting services to go live.

After that, congratulations! Your business is the proud owner of a custom domain.

How to get a custom domain in GoDaddy?

To get a custom domain in GoDaddy, visit their website, search for your desired domain, select it, choose a suitable plan, and complete the purchase.

How to get a custom domain on Wix?

On Wix, it’s easy to get your own domain. Just sign in to your Wix account, upgrading to a premium plan that includes connecting an account domain. Then, either register a new domain with Wix or use one you already have. Follow Wix’s instructions to connect your custom account.

How to get a custom domain in Salesforce?

Salesforce does not offer domain registration. First, you need to get a domain from a domain registrar and configure it to make your current domain name work on Salesforce.

How to add a custom domain name in Azure?

In Azure, you can use your own domain. Start by signing in and finding your App Service. Then, add your domain and enter your domain information. The final step is configuring DNS records either with Azure or your registrar, which completes the setup.

How to get a custom domain email?

To get a custom domain email, you need to create a domain through a domain registrar. Usually, they offer it as an extra service for domain buyers.

ProviderCost
GoDaddyCustom domains only.
WixFree regular domains (subdomains) + Custom domains.
SalesforceCustom domains only – Salesforce does not sell them, you have to buy from third-party registrars.
AzureCustom domains only – Azure does not sell them, you have to buy from third-party registrars.

Conclusion

Your custom domain is more than just the digital address you purchase.

It serves as a crucial step in your online presence, directing visitors to your virtual storefront.

No doubt, getting a branded domain is a must. It allows you to create a strong online strategy, gain more recognition, and set the stage for your business marketing.

All in all, if improving your website is a priority for your business this year, check our curated list of Best Website Builders. With this knowledge, you will be able to provide a brand experience as thoughtful as your domain name choice. Apply it!

Next Steps: What Now?

If the idea of a custom domain for your digital marketing intrigues you, here are some practical next steps to consider:

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a custom tracking domain?

A custom tracking domain is a specialized web address used by businesses and organizations to monitor online activities. It serves as a tool for them to gather information about how people interact with their online content, such as emails or websites.

Do I need a custom domain for my site?

The necessity of a custom domain depends on your purpose. If you’re creating a website for personal use or casual purposes, it’s not a must. However, if you’re running a business or want to be taken seriously online, having your own branded domain is advisable.

 

What does adding a custom domain do?

When you add a custom domain to your website, you’re essentially choosing a unique and memorable digital address that represents you or your business. This custom address sets your website apart from others and signals to visitors that your website is trustworthy.

What Is a Custom Domain DNS?

Custom Domain DNS, or Domain Name System, is like the internet’s address book. It helps the internet find your website or manage your email. It is like making a map that says, “Here’s where my website is” or “This is where my emails should go”. Custom DNS configuration allows you to control how your domain behaves, including where it points.

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