Buying a domain name is an exciting time for any new business or idea, but parts of the process can also be confusing. There are many things to consider, and making a mistake can potentially be costly. This section will take you through everything you need to think about, including what you need to consider to choose the best Canadian domain registrar.
So without further ado, here is our complete guide to domain names and domain services, including choosing the best Canadian domain registrar. Get started today. Search for your ideal domain name and let CanSpace show you why we are Canada’s leading domain name registrar.
What is a domain name and how do they work?
In very simple terms, a domain name (like canspace.ca) is your website’s address on the internet. It is what someone would type into their web browser’s URL bar to get to your website.
To understand it in more detail however, we need to look at the problem that domain names were designed to solve.
The internet is essentially a global network of computers. Each computer on this network is identified by an IP address, which is a series of numbers, something like 126.96.36.199. Since IP addresses are difficult to remember, domain names were invented to replace them in the browser’s URL bar.
When a visitor enters your domain name into their browser, it sends a request to the Domain Name System, which is a global network of servers. These servers then look up the name servers associated with your domain and pass the request to them. Name servers are usually set up and handled by your web hosting company, for example CanSpace. The server on which your website is hosted receives the request, and delivers the pages of your website back to the visitor’s web browser.
What is the difference between a domain and web hosting?
A domain is the address of a website, whereas hosting is the service that allows a website to be displayed on the internet. It is a service offered by hosting companies. Buying a domain alone will not be enough to create a live website; you need both a domain and hosting.
What is a domain registrar?
When you buy a domain name, it is unique to you, and no one else can use it. A domain registrar is a company that provides the service of registering your domain name, allowing you to own it. Often, domain registrars also offer other related services, such as web hosting.
The benefits of having a Canadian domain extension
Depending on the goal of your website and the visitors you are trying to appeal to, there can be many benefits of choosing the Canadian domain extension .CA. Here are some of them:
.CAs indicate a genuine Canadian presence
When visitors arrive at a .CA website, they can be sure that it is owned by a Canadian business or individual, as you have to meet a Canadian presence requirement in order to register a .CA domain.
Canadians favor .CA websites
Research conducted by CIRA shows that Canadians favor .CA websites, especially in the fields of news and current events, banking and shopping. They attribute this to the fact that visitors are easily able to identify that the website is homegrown, as .CA is reserved only for Canadians.
Registering or renewing a .CA supports charitable causes
CIRA runs a Community Investment Program that helps support initiatives whenever a .CA domain is registered or renewed. The program funds projects that build a safer, stronger, more accessible internet for Canadians. Under this scheme, CIRA has already raised $5.45 million to date, and supported 130 projects throughout Canada.
.CA has better availability
Over 140 million .com extensions are currently registered, making it the most common domain extension in the world. Conversely, only 2.7 million .CA are registered. This means that if the .com you want is already taken, you may have an easier time finding your ideal domain name when using a .CA extension.
A .CA domain extension can help with SEO
Having a .CA domain name may help your SEO. This is because search engines prioritise results from Canadian websites when queries are entered by Canadian searchers. In addition, because Canadians favor .CA websites, they are more likely to click through to a .CA website from the search results page.
Individuals get free domain privacy
When you register a domain name, the WHOIS directory publically displays information such as your name, address and email address. However, when you register a .CA as an individual, this information is not automatically made publically available. This is not the case when registering websites with other domain extensions like .com, for example. In this case, you have to pay extra for domain privacy services to keep this information out of the public domain.
Note that this concession only applies to .CAs that are registered by individuals; corporations and businesses must publicly display their information.
How to choose the perfect domain name
Choosing a domain name is possibly one of the most important decisions you will have to make in regards to your website. It certainly deserves a significant amount of time and attention. Get it wrong, and you risk harming the future potential of your site right from the start. Get it right however, and you can positively influence your credibility, branding, click through rate and more. Consider the following points before clicking “checkout” on your new domain name.
Go for something brandable
Branding is key to the success of any business, but it also applies to the name of your website. Choose something unique and easy to remember. Avoid hyphens or numbers, as they sound odd and generic, and make a website sound less like a brand.
Make sure it is pronounceable
Making your domain name pronounceable matters because as humans, we tend to better remember things we can easily think about and say. Making it pronounceable also makes it easier to understand when you are verbally sharing your URL with someone, or when people are talking about your website amongst each other. Don’t lose potential visitors because people can’t understand or remember the name.
Keep it short
Shorter domain names are better for the same reasons as making it pronounceable. In addition, the shorter it is, the easier it is to say, share and type. If it is long or complicated, you risk visitors misspelling or mistyping it.
Make it intuitive
Anyone visiting your website should be able to get a good idea of what it is about simply from the name.
Similarly, you want to make the name itself predictable and easy to type. Avoid any unusual spellings, slang or numbers such as using “4” instead of “for”. Visitors will almost always revert to the most common way of spelling something.
Use relevant keywords
Including keywords in your domain name not only gives potential visitors an idea of what your website is about, but it can also help with SEO. Although Google has more recently been steering away from keywords in domain names as a ranking factor, you can still benefit from your keywords being used as anchor text when other people link to your website.
Be aware of trademark infringement
Not only does choosing a domain name that could be mistaken for another company create brand confusion, which is bad for your website, but it could also land you in a lot of trouble. Infringing on a trademark, whether deliberate or not, could lead to legal action being taken against you.
Before you settle on a domain name, Google it to check whether anyone else is already using it, particularly if they are in a similar niche.
What to consider when buying Canadian domain name services
When you have decided on your ideal domain name and checked whether it is available, the next step is to purchase it. Canadian domain name services are renowned for being high quality, but there are hundreds of companies to choose from, all offering slightly varying services and prices.
To help make your decision easier and select the best domain registrar in Canada, consider the following points:
Pricing and contract terms
Your primary concern is most likely going to be cost when searching for the best Canadian domain registrar. You will see that there is a range of different pricing options and contract lengths available. Some registrars offer an introductory price for the first year’s registration, but future years may be inflated, so be sure to factor in the cost for the whole term of the contract. At CanSpace we use no such practices - prices for .ca domains are $10.99 for the first year, and at renewal.
The minimum term that you can register a domain name for is one year, however two years is common, and you can choose to register it for any length of time up to 10 years at a time.
If you are registering a domain for the first time, one year is a good term to start with. You will then be able to renew automatically when the year is up so your domain will not expire.
When looking at the terms of the contract, also look out for the cost of renewal, domain transfers and any other fees that the registrar might impose.
When something goes wrong or you’re simply stuck, you’ll want the peace of mind of knowing that there is someone on hand to help. Search the web for reviews of your potential domain registrar and look out for recurring issues or complaints.
It is possible to move domains from one domain registrar to another. If or when the time comes that you choose to move yours, you want to know that the process will be easy and that you won’t be penalized with hefty fees. CanSpace of course charges no fees ever to transfer a domain away from us.
Bear in mind that ICANN and CIRA rules dictate that you cannot move a domain during the first 60 days of it being registered, but after this period, you can move it anywhere you like.
Before you buy your domain, review each registrar’s domain transfer policy and look for a registrar that makes it easy to move, without charging extra fees.
Domain expiration protection
When the term of your domain contract comes to an end, your ownership of that domain name will expire. You can renew any time up to the expiry date, but if for some reason you do not, for example if your credit card expires or you simply forget, there is a risk that your domain name could be purchased by someone else. The consequences of this could be disastrous, particularly for businesses where your website is part of your brand.
Some domain registrars offer a grace period where they hold the domain for a certain amount of time after its expiry. This gives you the chance to renew your expired domain before someone else picks it up. In any case, as a precaution, it is wise to use your registrar’s automatic renewal service. At CanSpace you have 30 days beyond the expiry date to renew a domain.
Some domain registrars will be able to offer additional services, such as domain parking, domain privacy and expiration protection. Although you may not need these services straight away, it is worth checking, as you may require them in the future.
Many domain registrars also offer hosting services and WordPress hosting in Canada, so you may wish to buy your domain and hosting together as a package.
Some things to be aware of when choosing the best domain name registrar
Just as there are some points to consider to help you choose the best domain name registrar services, there are also some things to watch out for and avoid.
While many registrars are straightforward and transparent in their pricing, some may automatically include additional services or fees just before you purchase your domain. Privacy protection and multi-year domain registration are common examples. As you reach the checkout page, double-check the price you are paying and whether anything has been automatically added to your total. At CanSpace our prices are the same no matter how many years you purchase, and WHOIS privacy is free of charge for .ca domains ($4.99 per year for all other domains).
Be sure to read through the terms of your agreement for extra charges that you may not be aware of. In particular, if you are buying your domain with a special offer on the first year’s registration, check the price of renewal, as this may be significantly higher for future years. Check also whether you will incur fees for transferring your domain. Most domain registrars make this easy, but some will charge an additional fee. At CanSpace there are no hidden fees, and no fees to transfer away.
Bad user experience
When you purchase a domain, especially if it is your first domain, you will require a domain management system that is user friendly and makes it easy to achieve what you want to do, such as changing your domain name settings. Keep in mind that not all registrar’s systems are equal in this regard. Look for signs of frustrating domain management systems when you check the reviews of your potential registrars.
Should you choose the cheapest domain registration in Canada?
There is no denying that cost is an important factor when it comes to your website, but should you choose the cheapest domain registration in Canada? The short answer is “it depends”. You will almost certainly come across deals that seem too good to be true, and some of them may be. But by going through the following points, you will be able to sort the genuine offers, from the deals you should stay away from, and get domain registration that is both a good value and makes good sense. For example, some registrars may charge a shady "initial" price then increase the price dramatically for subsequent years. At CanSpace we have the lowest .ca prices anywhere, and we do not use such practices - prices are the same for registration, renewals, and transfers.
Look out for hidden fees
A domain registrar offering a particularly cheap .ca domain, or any domain for that matter, may be able to do so by including hidden fees. Things to be particularly wary of are auto-renew and transfer out fees.
Many registrars include their fees in the long fine print of their Terms of Service and rely on prospective customers not reading it. You may find that when you want to transfer your domain to another domain registrar, you are faced with a hefty fee. Again at CanSpace, this is never the case.
Know the true cost of initial discounts
You may find that after first-year discounts, the cost to renew in the following years is much higher. Some contracts will tie you in for a minimum of two years in order to allow the registrar to recoup the cost of offering the discount. Be sure to read the fine print of your agreement.
Be aware of upselling
Some registrars will hook you in with the lure of a cheap ca domain, but then proceed to try to upsell you with various products and services that you may not want, or even need.
Many registrars also offer web hosting services, and often buying a package deal makes sense, but do your homework first. Check that everything you are being offered is priced fairly, and don’t buy products or services that you don’t need.
Find out why CanSpace is Canada’s leading .ca registrar
As Canada’s leading domain registrar, we are a CIRA certified .ca registrar, which means that you can rest assured that your domain registration is in safe hands. We offer features such as full DNS control, domain forwarding, domain privacy, superior levels of support and much more, at a fraction of the cost of our competitors.
Now that you have all of the information to choose the best canadian domain registrar and register your ideal domain name, search for it on CanSpace.ca.
Buy your new domain name from CanSpace today and see for yourself why we are Canada’s leading domain registrar!