Why You Need a Domain for Your Website in 2021 (7 Important Reasons)
So you’re wondering why you need a domain for your website or blog?
A domain name provides you with a unique address on the Internet that allows anyone with a web browser to access your content.
Your domain (address) cannot be copied and is an essential part of building an online persona, or brand.
That’s the boilerplate explanation of why it’s important to have your own domain name.
But first let’s take a deeper look at what domains do, and why you definitely need to register a domain name for your business.
What is a Domain Name Used For?
The internet is made up of a massive network of computer servers connected together.
Each computer on the Internet is assigned a unique number that acts as its address so that other computers can find it.
This is known as its IP (Internet Protocol) address.
A typical IP address looks like this:
So in the same way that your home has an address unique to it to stop your mail from going to an incorrect address, a web server uses IP addresses to stop people from going to the wrong websites.
But the problem is that humans find it difficult to memorize a long string of numbers like an IP address for even one site never mind dozens of them.
That’s where another piece of technology called DNS (Domain Name System) takes over.
It allows you to use alphanumeric information (letters and numbers) to represent your IP address.
This is why you tell people about your web address and not your IP address.
Instead of having to type 126.96.36.199 into your web browser you simply type Amazon.com instead.
Amazon’s DNS takes over from there and brings you directly to its homepage.
So a domain name provides a link between your web server and the outside world using easily remembered words or phrases like Amazon.com and not a web server’s IP address.
Domain Names vs. Web Hosting
Aren’t domain names and web hosting the same thing?
There are people who believe that if you have a web hosting account that you don’t need your own domain name, and vice versa.
This is typically caused by a simple misunderstanding and a basic lack of experience.
It probably comes from the fact that they registered a domain name while they were purchasing web hosting, so assume they’re the same thing.
Your web hosting is the location where the files for your website reside. It is identifiable by its IP address but not alphanumeric data i.e. You can’t use www.mydomain.com to find it without using DNS.
This is how every web hosting company operates its servers.
Your domain name, on the other hand, is the address for the location of your server. It is identifiable by the fact it is made up of numbers and letters (alphanumeric data).
So you need both a domain name and hosting for your website to exist and be found online.
Why Do You Need a Domain Name?
So far we’ve covered all the technical stuff you’ll ever need to know about domain names.
Now it’s time to get to the more practical and business-oriented reasons for owning one.
Here are the top 7 reasons why you need a domain name for your website.
1. Free search traffic
This is an important point and one that nobody really thinks about in relation to domain names.
It will be impossible for your new website to be found by search engines if it doesn’t have a domain name associated with it.
So that would mean missing out on potentially tens of thousands of unique visitors to your website each month.
A search engine can index a site using free hosting…but they often choose not to do that because of the number of spammers using those sites.
2. Build trust
A domain name allows you to build trust in your online identity/business persona.
There’s nothing stopping you from using a free website hosting service to bypass the expense of buying a domain name.
But look at this from a paying customer’s perspective.
Which of the following looks more like a business you’d be willing to trust with your credit card details or cryptocurrency?
The first question that pops into my mind when I find the rare business sites that still use free hosting is, “…they can’t afford 10 bucks for a custom domain name?”
Having a branded/customer domain name will instill confidence in potential customers.
Using free hosting or a free domain name will have the opposite effect.
And bear in mind that there are so many online scams running now that people need to completely trust your Internet presence to do business with you.
So provide them with the path of least resistance to do that.
3. Own your content
There’s nothing wrong with publishing content on Medium.com, Facebook, Blogger or any other free platform.
But you don’t actually own that content.
In fact, if you read the ToS (Terms of Service) of most social platforms you’ll find they’re legally allowed to repurpose or use your content in whatever way they see fit.
A great quote illustrating this point is: “When the product is free…you are the product”.
Also, you can’t expect to be taken seriously if your only web presence is on free social media accounts.
Control is key
But a bigger problem is that your social media account could be deleted, banned or censored tomorrow morning taking all of your content with it.
Publishing content to your own domain name, however, means that you retain full ownership over it.
Any content (of any type) that you create and publish on a domain you own is automatically grants you intellectual copyright of that content i.e. You can sue anyone who steals it or uses it without your permission.
Social influencers spend most of their time on TikTok, Snapchat or whatever social network is most popular right now.
And they do that because it’s easy to accumulate millions of views and hundreds of thousands of followers in very little time.
But, the really successful influencers also register their own domain name – usually using their full name.
This is done for branding purposes, but also because they understand that their influence on a given platform is limited to just a few years.
It’s not a long-term career.
That’s why influencers do their best to get you over to their website to buy their merch, sign up for their newsletter, etc.
Purchasing a domain name is absolutely essential if you plan on building a long-term brand for your business.
5. Prevent brandjacking
If you don’t register the domain name for your business or personal profile I can absolutely guarantee you that somebody else will.
There was a situation years ago where one particular domain registrar would register domain names a few seconds after somebody checked if they were available.
Then the registrar instantly put the domain names for sale on their own site. Often at a cost of hundreds of dollars each.
When individuals do this it’s called brandjacking. (That said, I’m not 100% sure what it’s called when domain registrars do it.)
But they did get caught in the end and were shamed into stopping.
The moral of the story is that you should never wait until your business is popular enough to justify registering a domain name for it – register your domain name first.
6. Copyright and trademarks
If another person registers your desired domain name and then trademarks it then they’ll own it forever.
And not only that, they could also attempt to stop you from publishing content under their trademarked name.
Reversing the above situation requires the help of an attorney, and potentially tens of thousands of dollars in fees.
That’s the worst possible outcome for a blogger or influencer because they simply don’t have the financial resources to pursue such a case.
So you’d lose access to your “brand name”.
All of which can be prevented by spending a few dollars on a domain name.
7. It’s a business asset
The domain you purchase for $10 today could be worth $100,000 5 years from now.
Or maybe $10 million.
The sky is pretty much the limit if your domain name is attached to a profitable business.
Did you know that you can flip a website for up to 40x what it earns each month? In fact, a 50x multiplier is not unheard of but it does depend on the market or niche the business is in.
So, if you have an online business that has generated $10,000 per month, for at least 12 months, you could sell that for anywhere from $200,000 – $400,000.
And the vast majority of the value of the sale of a site is made up by your domain name.
The most expensive domain name ever sold was $872 million paid for Cars.com. Yes, an investment company paid close to $1 billion for a single domain name.
In fact, some entrepreneurs make their living buying and flipping domains, without even publishing a single word of content.
There’s a huge market for expired domain names right now, for example, and ongoing demand for premium domains e.g. Insure.com
You can sell domain names that you bought for $10 for 50x or 100x your initial investment.
Just be aware that flipping domains isn’t “easy money” – you could be left with a portfolio of domain names that nobody wants.
Wrapping it up
So, as you can see, a domain name is an investment in your business and not an expense.
But it’s a necessary investment.
Put simply, there are far more reasons for spending $10 – $15 on domain registration than not.
You also don’t need to buy a super-expensive premium domain costing thousands.
A basic $10 .com will do just fine.
After all, that’s how many of the biggest bloggers in the world got started.
About Matt Collins
With a rapidly growing team of readers, my mission is to teach hungry professionals how to maximize their net worth with scalable side hustles and responsible financial management practices.
My reputation is of the utmost importance to me, which is why I only provide completely honest, 100% true, unbiased recommendations for systems and software I know and trust.