Master of your domain: 10 steps for domain name success for new or rebranded companies

Registering and protecting domain names can be tricky. Get it right the first time with this guide.

Rolling out your new company name has a lot of moving parts, from legal and administrative to PR and marketing. Our downloadable guide How to Launch Your New Company Name provides a great overview of the process. But registering and protecting domain name(s) can be especially tricky. Your primary domain name needs to both represent your brand and be easy for audiences to find. Get it right the first time by following these 10 steps.

  1. Select a primary domain name. For companies of a certain size or stature, the exact .com may be a necessity. For others, adding a descriptor can clarify the offering (as in or even better express the brand (as in for comedy group Just For Laughs). But .com isn’t the only TLD (top-level domain) in town. In fact, fewer than half the Y Combinator startups in 2022 used .com, with industry-related TLDs (.io, .ai, .health) helping to signal a marketspace. Alternatives are becoming more popular given the dearth and expense of .coms, and Google says that a site’s TLD does not impact SEO.
  2. Determine other domains for acquisition. Try to acquire likely misspellings of your primary domain, as well as domains related to your business—for example, Catchword owns,, and others—and have these redirect to your primary domain or relevant pages of your site.
  3. Choose a registrar. The registrar provides domain name registration and maps your domain name to your IP address (think GoDaddy, Namecheap, etc.). Registrars are not all alike, so choose with care. Consider features and services (for example, some registrars don’t provide web hosting), price (owning a lot of domains can really add up, so it pays to shop around), and customer service (if you expect to mostly set it and forget it, you might be able to save with a no-frills outfit).
  4. closed padlockEnsure that your core domains are locked and non-transferable. Check the status in your registrar account and, if possible, set these options as defaults for every time you register a new domain.
  5. Update the contact information (AKA whois) through your registrar.  If you purchased a domain from a seller (versus an outright available domain name), make sure your information replaces that of the seller.
  6. Ensure that DNS and Nameservers are correct and up-to-date. Update and confirm these upon transfer/purchase. This step is easily forgotten and can lead to dead links and issues with email addresses.
  7. Set up web hosting and email. Whether you are moving an existing site or creating a new one, you will need to make sure that your web host has the correct domain information (even if your host and registrar are the same).
  8. Make sure all domains are live or redirect to live links/content. Before your new site launches, double-check that your primary domain and subdomains are live and that redirects from your other domains point to your primary as intended. It’s a good idea to check these redirects periodically, just to make sure no problems have arisen.
  9. Renew your domains before they expire. Domain registration is like an apartment lease—it must be renewed (annually or in multi-year increments up to 10 years) for the domain to stay yours. Set up auto-pay or create a reminder to make sure you don’t miss the expiration date, and keep your contact info up to date on your registrar account. If you fail to renew, someone else could swoop in.
  10. Conduct an annual domain review. Taking stock of your domains every year will ensure your domains are configured properly (see Steps 3–8 above) and help you drop domains that you no longer need, saving you money and avoiding dead links.


Catchword principals Maria Cypher and Mark Skoultchi reflect on the trends, what's changed, what hasn't, and what's to come