For Singapore SMEs or businesses that are looking to start up, buying a domain name is one of the first steps to launching a website.
It may seem difficult at first to find a fitting domain to register for your website, but luckily for you, domain registration isn’t all that hard, and we are here to tell you how with just a few easy steps.
It will be slightly different if you are registering for a ‘.sg’ extension of your domain with certain conditions and guidelines, but don’t worry as we will be teaching you step-by-step.
By the end of this post you will be able to obtain the domain name you desire, no matter if it’s a premium domain name or a name that is not for sale.
We will first talk about domains with extensions of ‘.sg’ followed by normal domain names with extensions of ‘.com’ etc.
Buying a Domain Name With Extensions Of ‘.sg’
The .sg domains have certain guidelines to use legally. Below is a list of the domains and their conditions (Obtained from sgnic.sg):
- .sg: This category is available to everyone. A foreign applicant must appoint and duly authorise a local agent as its administrative contact. The administrative contact must furnish a valid Singapore postal address for SGNIC’s records.
- .com.sg: Commercial entities may wish to register in this extension. Applicants registering for a .com.sg will need to be either registered, or in the midst of registering, with the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), IE Singapore or any professional body in Singapore. A foreign company may apply for a .com.sg domain name if it appoints a local agent as the administrative contact. The administrative contact must furnish a valid Singapore postal address for SGNIC’s records.
For SME businesses you should just be focusing on the above 2 extensions, but if you are interested in knowing or just for general knowledge, here are the remaining extensions. (Skip ahead if not interested)
- .org.sg: Names under .org.sg are only available to organisations which are either registered, or in the midst of registering, with the Registry of Societies (ROS). Also eligible are town councils, community centres, places of worship or embassies. Other organisations not registrable under the Societies Act, Companies Act or with professional bodies could also apply under this extension.
- .edu.sg: Only educational institutions may apply under this category. Applicants must be registered with (i) the Ministry of Education (MOE) in Singapore, (ii) the Ministry of Social and Family Development, (iii) under the Private Education Act, or (iv) is otherwise authorised by law or the Government to provide educational services in Singapore. Applicants not so registered will need to be (a) entities providing courses/training that either lead to certifications or qualifications (which are issued by such entities or in partnership with educational institution(s)) that are recognised by a government authority or institution in Singapore, or (b) whose courses/training receive funding/support/endorsement from a relevant government authority in Singapore.
- .gov.sg: Only government organisations are eligible to apply under this category. Applicants for domain names under this category must be members of the Singapore Government.
- .net.sg: Applicants for names under this category must be (i) Infocomm Media Development Authority licensees (SBO individual licensees, FBO licence or other licenses providing connectivity or value-added network services), or (ii) providers offering network-based data hosting services such as email hosting. DNS hosting, web hosting and data centres may also apply in this category.
- 新加坡: This category is the Chinese language equivalent of the .sg category. The same eligibility criteria applies.
- சிங்கப்பூர்: This category is the Tamil language equivalent of the .sg category. The same eligibility criteria applies.
Once you have ensured you have met the conditions of using the .sg extension, it’s time to check if it is still available. Head on to www.sgnic.sg and enter your desired domain with ‘.sg’ extension into the ‘Whois’ search at the top right.
If the result shows a “Domain Not Found”, it means the domain name is available for registration! Here are the list of registrars if you are looking to obtain a ‘.sg’ domain (provided by sgnic.sg):
- Adicio Pte Ltd https://adicio.asia/
- Corporation Service Company (Singapore) Pte Ltd www.cscdbs.com
- CSC Corporate Domains Inc www.cscdbs.com
- Dreamscape Networks International Pte Ltd https://www.crazydomains.sg/
- Exabytes Network (Singapore) Pte Ltd www.exabytes.sg
- Gandi SAS www.gandi.net
- Instra Corporation Pty Ltd www.instra.com
- IP Twins SAS www.iptwins.com
- Key-Systems GmbH www.key-systems.net
- MarkMonitor Inc. www.markmonitor.com
- Nameshield SAS www.nameshield.com
- Pacific Internet (S) Pte Ltd www.pacificinternet.com
- Safebrands SAS https://safebrands.com
- Safenames Ltd www.safenames.net
- Singnet Pte Ltd SingNet
- United Domains AG www.uniteddomains.com
- Vooju Pte Ltd www.vooju.com
- Web Commerce Communications (S) Pte Ltd www.webnic.cc
There is a huge difference in price between ‘.com’ (~$10 /year) and ‘.sg’ (~$80/year) so you may want to think about how crucial having the Singapore element is in succeeding your business to justify the cost difference. If your services or products cater more locally to Singaporeans or your overall content on the website is Singapore-focussed (E.g. Blogs), we would recommend the ‘.sg’ extension.
Having said that, as a small business starting up you might find the high price of ‘.sg’ too high and still opt for a ‘com’ extension.
You might also want to consider the benefits ‘.sg’ brings to your company’s Google SEO, as your website with a ‘.sg’ extension may appear higher in ranking on a Singaporean’s google search due to it being associated with your geographic region.
It will hint to Google that you are targeting Singaporeans and therefore be more relevant. However, this doesn’t necessarily imply that your site will rank higher than a ‘.com’ as there are many other factors determining your Google search ranking.
Should you buy all the extensions for your domain?
At the search results of your registrar’s websites, they will be promoting other extensions of your domain name. (E.g. webdelegate.net, webdelegate.co). The only reason you will purchase the other extensions will be to protect your branding name. As a small business looking to grow big, you may want to have rights to the other extensions for future protection.
You can also venture out using your other extensions for different purposes of business (E.g using ‘.net’ extension for a business blog). These extensions could also be used in future to boost your search-engine ranking in future, and bad reviews or references from other blogs could be hidden under these extensions, not affecting your main website.
If your budget is tight and you are new to the scene however, we think it might not be worth at the moment to purchase such additional extensions as the benefits don’t seem to be worth the cost you are paying. You can purchase more as your business develops.
Buying a normal ‘.com’ domain:
Here are our 2 best methods of purchasing a normal ‘.com’ domain
Buying a Domain Name with Namecheap
We personally think that Namecheap is the best and easiest place to buy a domain, especially for first-timers. This is the most straightforward method of buying a domain as compared to others on this list because you won’t be packaging it with other services.
3 steps is all it takes
Step 1 – Visit Namecheap.com
Head on over to the Namecheap website and search for your domain from the homepage directly.
Type in your desired domain and be sure to select ‘Register’ on the toggle bar above the search bar. ‘Transfer’ is for people who want to switch registrars for their existing domain- hopefully this helps you in future.
Click the Search icon to continue.
Step 2 – Pick Your Extension
You can choose from the range of extensions available on the page.
As mentioned above, we recommend you to always register a .com domain whenever you can, while for personal sites like blogs, an alternate cheaper extension is much more suitable.
Click the ‘Add to cart’ button on the right of your extension and checkout.
What if the .com I want isn’t available?
There are a few options.
- Go with a .co or .io. Here are some examples of famous domains with .co and .io
- Suffix generic words like “hq”, “app” or words to prompt action like “get”. Here are some examples:
If you are dead set on a name that has been taken, we recommend you use an alternate extension for now while you think of a way to buy the taken domain. We will explain how in detail below (but you probably won’t be able to buy Samsung or Mcdonalds).
Step 3 – Complete your Purchase
If you are buying directly from a domain registrar, you can skip the add-ons as you can get them from your web hosting provider (SSL Certificate, Professional email etc)
Ensure that ‘Domain Privacy’ is enabled!. This prevents personal data from being available to the public. You normally have to pay for this on other domain registers, but Namecheap offers it free forever.
Be sure to turn on “auto-renew” for your domain name so as to reduce the chance of registration lapsing if you were renewing it manually.
Upon confirming, the website will ask you to create a Namecheap account. Enter your payment details and complete your purchase. The domain is now yours!
Buying a Domain Name with Bluehost
Bluehost is one of the most trustable web hosting providers out there on the market today, powering more than 2 million websites since 2003.
They provide domain registration services, but if you were to purchase web hosting services from them (S$7.23/month for 36 months), you’ll get a domain free for 1 year.
Therefore, if your business is just starting out, which will require a web hosting plan for its website anyways, we think it is in your best interest to package them both together by selecting Bluehost’s web hosting plan.
Step 1 – Head to Bluehost.com
Here, Click on ‘Hosting’ at the top left of the screen.
Remember, if you click on ‘Domains’ and directly buy your domain name from there, you will not receive the benefits of the web hosting package, which is the main benefit of using Bluehost!
Step 2 – Select your Hosting Plan
Afterwards, You will be navigated to the ‘Hosting’ page, where you will be given 3 choices:
- Shared Hosting
- VPS Hosting
- Dedicated Hosting
Majority of new Singapore businesses will go for Shared Hosting, while already established Singapore businesses will go for Dedicated or VPS, but that’s for another time.
Click on ‘Shared Hosting’.
Bluehost offers 4 choices for their web hosting services. We would recommend at least Choice Plus for Singapore businesses as the additional features, which includes domain privacy and protection, is worth the extra bucks spent.
On the other hand, if you are looking to set up a small personal site like a blog, the Basic choice of S$3.91/month for 36 months will be perfect for you.
Click the ‘Select’ button under your desired plan.
Step 3 – Create your domain
You will be transferred to a ‘set up domain’ page where you will be given the two options of:
- ‘Create a new domain’
- ‘Use a domain you own’
You will type in your desired domain under ‘Create a new domain’ and select your desired extension (.com, .online, .site, .biz, .tech, .store, .co, .us, etc.).
For your business you would tend to want the extension of .com, but it may already been taken .
Here lies the limitation of Bluehost for Singapore businesses, and why it is number 2 on our list: They do not have the option of an extension of .sg, which is a common extension for Singapore businesses.
You will either have to choose another extension, or if you are lucky, have ‘.com’ not taken.
If you are dead set on a taken name, as said above, we recommend you use an alternate extension for now while you think of a way to buy the taken domain. We will explain how in detail later.
Step 4 – Complete your purchase
Click on ‘Next’ and you will be directed to a ‘Create your account’ page. Create your Bluehost account and confirm your plan and add-ons.
‘Domain Privacy + Protection’ under “Package Extras” is also free! This will prevent you from having your name, phone number, address and email be available to the public, definitely worth the extra buck.
You can have a look at the other options, but we would recommend other 3rd-party services out there to fulfill these roles.
Once you have keyed in your payment details, you are done! Your domain name will be free for 1 year and you have web hosting services alongside it, a good start for your new website.
Ways to buy a Domain Name
The two main methods of purchasing a domain name has been shown above – from a standalone domain registrar like Namecheap or from a hosting provider like Bluehost.
We will go through the differences between both methods and their pros and cons so you can judge for yourself which one will be more suitable for your business.
Buying from a standalone domain registrar (E.g. Namecheap):
These places specialize in domain registration, so normally one would go straight to a domain registrar like Namecheap to buy a Domain Name or to change a domain name.
It is a more direct process and hence the easiest way to obtain a domain name as you won’t have to worry about any accompanying plans like web hosting services.
Domain registrars also offer a wider range of extensions, as seen above by the difference between Namecheap and Bluehost. We will, of course, still recommend you to purchase a .com extension whenever you can, but feel free to explore!
If you looking for more than 1 domain name, domain registrars also make it easier to buy domain names in bulk.
The main con of using these registrars to obtain your domain name will just be the added effort needed to obtain web hosting somewhere else.
Buying a Domain From a Web Hosting Company:
We think that web hosting and domain registration should be purchased on their own, but Bluehost will be the only option to consider if you want to package your domain name with a web hosting plan.
It is a good start for businesses with no experience in web hosting and domain registration as it will be easier to manage both from the same place and get used to it.
Moreover, the domain will be free for 1 year if you picked Bluehost, something you would not get from a standalone domain registrar.
The cons would be that purchasing domain names in bulk will be harder and there are less options for extensions as seen above. Free domain privacy and protection by standalone domain registrars is also lacking here.
How to Buy a Premium DomainA premium domain is normally short, easy to spell and notable. Premium domains are great for marketing and the branding of your business. They also tend to have a high search volume and are memorable in a certain topic or industry.
However, due to having a high demand, they tend to cost more to register. Keep an eye out for ‘unavailable’ domains you are interested in while looking at extensions for your domains. They may actually be obtainable, although not explicitly stated. Here are the steps .
Step 1 – Determine if the domain may be attainable
If you see ‘unavailable’ on the domain you are interested in, head on down to the unavailable website itself to check it out.
If the website is active with traffic flowing through it, or it is running a business on it, it will be tougher to obtain.
However, if it is not active, it is highly probable the domain will be for sale.
An example for http://www.sainsbury.co
Obviously, this does not seem like an active site. Therefore, it is very likely it’s for sale. You may also see text reading ‘buy this domain’ or implying that the domain is on sale, which is a plus for you.
Step 2 – Find the owner of the domain
There are 2 ways of going about this:
- Do it yourself
- Hire domain brokers to help
Doing it yourself can be difficult. Your range only extends to a quick Google search on the person, who most likely does not have his or her personal information available online. If you are lucky the domain is linked to another website or profile on social media.
We recommend hiring a domain broker to help, and Sedo is one of our favorite brokerage sites for that.
You can mostly trust brokers to always find the owner of the domain you desire because of their extensive network. They will help identify if your desired domain is available for sale and how much the seller is asking for. They can also settle the negotiations with the owner of the domain for you.
The con of using a broker will be the brokerage fee, but usually you will pay the fee only if the sale goes through.
Other excellent places for broker services :
Step 3 – Negotiate and buy
The pricing for a premium domain is normally negotiable. If it nicely fits within your budget or you have no issues with the price, you can just offer the asking price in full.
This is especially good if the domain is in high demand as you speed up the process and have a higher chance of securing the domain before a better offer appears in front of them.
If you don’t think it’s a fair price or it is ridiculously priced, you will have to ask yourself if the domain is actually worth the cost or a must in making your business a success.
Negotiate the price and don’t be afraid to walk away and have a look at other domains if you don’t deem it worth it.
You can try again next time or you may eventually find a better domain for your business while looking at other domains. This is also why it’s useful to be under a broker’s service.
Step 4 – Transfer the Domain
If all goes well and you have purchased your desired domain, the last step will be transferring it to your domain registrar. We recommend Namecheap.com once again because it is so simple to do so under them.
Remember to enable auto-renewal for the same reason of risking someone purchasing your domain once the domain is expired.
You are done! You have secured your desired premium domain and it rests inside your domain registrar account.
How to Buy a Domain Name Not for sale:Sadly, not all premium domains are for sale on domain marketplaces or brokerage sites. However, you may still have a chance if you are really interested.
You will need to identify the owner of the domain, same as if the domain is on sale, but it’s usually easier if the domain is not for sale and does not require a broker to help.
Most of the time these domains will be linked to a more active website. Locate the website’s contact information and reach out directly to the owner.
Began with a simple inquiry saying that you are looking to purchase the domain without offering just yet. Offering at this point of time could result in you overpaying which is not what we want.
Observe how he replies and if he is willing to sell. You will usually need to spend more to purchase a domain that is not for sale at the moment. If you are in desperate need of the domain, look to making the owner of the domain a offer he or she can’t refuse. Don’t be too optimistic as it may not always work out.
If it works out, congratulations! Look for the services of a broker to ensure the purchase goes smoothly. Immediately after obtaining ownership to your domain, transfer the domain to your registrar.
For Singaporean SMEs or businesses looking to start up, purchasing a domain name is simple and you can complete it in a less than an hour following our instructions stated in this step-by-step guide. Compare the different prices on the different registrars if you are going for ‘.sg’ and look to building a trust on the registrar
It may take longer to purchase a premium domain, but it will be worth it if you are looking to build your business up to success. We wish you all the best!