09

Jan '24

How To Get a Free Domain Name: 3 Legit Ways In 2024 – Forbes Advisor Australia – Forbes

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Updated: Jan 8, 2024, 1:09pm
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Choosing and registering a domain name is a necessary part of setting up any website, including one for an Australian business.
A domain name is the address of a website that you can type into the toolbar of an internet browser to visit the site. An example is: https://www.forbes.com/advisor/au/.
While there’s often a charge to purchase a domain name, there are several ways you can get one for free. We explain all below, starting with how to choose a domain name.
Featured Partners
1
Namecheap
Starting price
$9 AUD
Renewal cost
$21.94 AUD
Free WHOIS privacy
Yes
2
Bluehost
On Bluehost.com’s Website
Starting price
$19.50 AUD
Renewal cost
$US19.99 ($30 AUD)
Free WHOIS privacy
No
3
HostGator
On HostGator’s Website
Starting price
$US12.95 ($19 AUD)
Renewal cost
$US19.99 ($30 AUD)
Free WHOIS privacy
No
It’s best practice to opt for a domain name that is the name of your business, or includes a keyword associated with the purpose of your firm or your industry. Keeping the domain name short and simple will also ensure it is easily remembered.
‘.com.au’ domain extensions are the most sought after in Australia, denoting that the website belongs to an Australian commercial entity. However, there are other ‘.au’ domain extensions you can choose from:
All domains that include ‘.au’ have been managed by the .au Domain Administration (auDA) since 1999 to protect their integrity.
Once you have decided on a domain name, you need to search to see if the website name is available. The easiest way to do that is to search the Whois database of all registered domains. The Whois database provides a domain’s current owner, its availability and its expiration date. If your domain name is not available, you might be able to contact the owner to purchase it from them or think up a new domain name.
GetFreeDomain.Name and Dot TK provide free domains with DNS support, so you can host them wherever you prefer. The free domain registrars are not recommended for anything other than personal use. The lack of security and email addresses as well as the website’s unprofessional look does not make free domains a suitable option for business sites.
Freenom claimed to be the world’s first free domain provider up until early 2023, when it was reported that it paused registering new domains. It is thought the decision was linked to Meta suing the company for ignoring abuse complaints concerning phishing sites. The Freenom website is currently inaccessible and its existing domains are thought to have ceased operating.
When it was up and running, Freenom’s free domains worked exactly like any other domain name with URL forwarding, free Freenom DNS Service or your own domain name service (DNS) or name servers. Domain extensions available for free registration were: TK/.ML/.GA/.CF/.GQ. Unlike paid sites, owners of Freenom’s free domains did not have transfer rights.
Free domain names and professional email addresses are often included in web hosting bundles. If you are planning on using WordPress to build your website, you might consider using Bluehost as your hosting service. Not only does WordPress endorse Bluehost, the hosting service includes a free new domain registration for customers’ first year.
Other services, such as Hostinger, HostGator and InMotion Hosting, all offer similar first-year free domain registration as part of their hosting packages. Other features typically included in hosting packages are a secure sockets layer (SSL), unlimited bandwidth, marketing tools, automatic backups and security features. Hosting prices vary but can start for around $4 a month for the first year. Learn more about the best web hosting services, including information on which include a free domain name.
In addition to hosting services, all-in-one website builders, such as Wix, Weebly and Squarespace often include a free domain for the user’s first year. These website builders are popular because they allow users without any coding experience to build professional-looking websites by using customisable templates with drag-and-drop features.
While they are generally more expensive than building a WordPress website through a hosting provider, they are much easier to navigate for the average user. Most popular website builders’ paid plans include a free domain for 12 months. Unlike hosting plans, professional email addresses may not be available on all plans. For more information, check out our article on the best website builders.
Once you register your domain name with either a free plan, hosting service or website builder, it typically takes 24 to 72 hours to become active. This is the length of time the DNS takes to replicate the name worldwide. After 48 hours your domain will be included in the Whois database, which is a public record of all domain registrations. The database allows anyone to search the IP owner information of every registered website on the internet. It also gives new website owners the ability to find out if their idea of a domain name is available for registration and, if not, when the current registration for that name expires.
Generally, you cannot transfer a domain name during the first 60 days after registration. This is the length of time the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) requires domain providers to lock most domains after registration.
Your best bet for a free, professional-looking website is with a hosting service or a web builder. Along with the domain, both offer great features, such as website templates, free security, e-commerce features and more. Remember that free domain registration usually is only free for the first year or two before an annual fee kicks in. Learn more about domain names and how to register one.
Featured Partners
1
Namecheap
Starting price
$9 AUD
Renewal cost
$21.94 AUD
Free WHOIS privacy
Yes
2
Bluehost
On Bluehost.com’s Website
Starting price
$19.50 AUD
Renewal cost
$US19.99 ($30 AUD)
Free WHOIS privacy
No
3
HostGator
On HostGator’s Website
Starting price
$US12.95 ($19 AUD)
Renewal cost
$US19.99 ($30 AUD)
Free WHOIS privacy
No
While registrars may provide free domains, they can revoke them at any time.
Web hosts and website builders usually offer free domain names as limited-time deals. Typically, after a year, you will have to pay to keep the domain name.
Often, web hosts offer free domain names with paid website hosting plans. It’s unlikely you’ll find a deal where you can pay nothing for both a domain name and web hosting, even for a limited period of time.
The ‘.com’ domain extension is the most popular in the world, with the Domain Name Industry Brief reporting ‘.com’ registrations as having surpassed 100 million. it has no associations with a particular country, so is known as a generic top-level domain. It’s particularly worth considering if you ultimately want to expand your business beyond Australia.
‘com.au’ is classed as a country-code second-level domain. It is best for businesses with a presence in Australia only. There are approximately 3 million ‘.com.au’ registered domains, according to auDA records. Note that you typically need an Australian Business Number to register a ‘.com.au’ domain name.
While companies, such as GetFreeDomain.Name and Dot TK offer free domains, they are not secure nor do they look professional. For a free business website, your best bet is to sign up with a hosting provider or website builder that offers a free domain to new users. Keep in mind that the free domain is usually just for the first year or the length of the initial contract.
Absolutely. Once you have registered your domain with a hosting service or website builder, you can transfer that domain to a new hosting service or website builder. Transferred domains are often free for one year. However, it is important to note that the ICANN requires domain providers to lock most domains for 60 days after registration so you will not be able to transfer your domain within its first 60 days.
There are a number of great ways to register a domain, including web hosting providers, such as DreamHost or GoDaddy and all-in-one website builders, such as Squarespace or Wix.
However, if you’re looking to solely register a new domain, the best domain name registrars include Namecheap, Domain.com and Google Domains. Learn more about the best domain name registrars for Australians.
Using a domain registrar, you can enter the domain name that you would like to use in the designated name search field. If the name is not in use, no information will come up and you can claim that name. If the name is currently in use, you can find out information that includes the domain name owner, creation date and expiration date.
Jennifer Simonson started her journalism career at a Denver-area weekly newspaper in 2001. Since then she has covered everything under the sun from politics to businesses to the wine industry to international travel. Outdoor adventure, water parks and all things Texas are by far her favorite beats. Her work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, Texas Monthly, Smithsonian Magazine, Fodor's, Lonely Planet, Slate and more. You can follow her adventures through her IG account @storiestoldwell.
Kelly is an SMB Editor specializing in starting and marketing new ventures. Before joining the team, she was a Content Producer at Fit Small Business where she served as an editor and strategist covering small business marketing content. She is a former Google Tech Entrepreneur and she holds an MSc in International Marketing from Edinburgh Napier University. Additionally, she manages a column at Inc. Magazine.

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Joker
Joker

Joker has been buying and selling domains since the late 90's. He has worked with many portfolios and investors over the past decade as well.

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