Buying a domain name for your new business is quite simple, just like buying anything else online, you visit a retailer's website and search for what you want, add the product to your cart and pay for it. In this case the retailer is a 'registrar', and like retailers different registrars offer different prices, offers and levels of support.
To save you the time researching the many many registrars out there - often re-selling another registrars product, we thought we would summarise the main players in the UK domain name registration industry. We are just looking at the domain name offerings of these websites, some of them will offer you free hosting or free email for a year, but will then charge you for it and it'll cost you more than using another service.
In our examples, we show the prices for a simple 2 year initial registration of a .co.uk domain. The reason for this is that most registrars offer the first year at a great price - only if you buy 2 or more years, the 2nd year on then just increases at a typical price. We summarise each with a price after 5 years assuming prices at the writing of this article.
Probably the biggest name in domain names globally. GoDaddy almost always have an offer on the first year of a domain name registration which looks amazing, but the price will go up for subsequent years, and the amazing price you saw before won't come back. Saying that, their prices are all-round average for a domain name.
At this moment in time GoDaddy are offering the first year for just £1 when you buy 2 or more years, 2 years costs you £6.99. No surprises from GoDaddy, each additional year and every year of renewal is £6.99.
You can often find GoDaddy discount codes to get cheaper renewals, but finding one for a UK domain at the time you need it is quite uncommon.
A well used UK registrar, but you have to be aware of what you're paying here. They advertise their domain names (focusing on .co.uk here) at £6.99, and then £9.99 for 2 years, sounds OK. But they don't charge the same price for renewals at all. Have a look at the Namesco domain renewal prices and you'll see the .co.uk is a whopping £16.79 a year. If you do want to use Namesco, I highly recommend adding as many years as you can at time of registration, and they'll rip you off later on.
My experience of clients using their free email has also turned out to be pretty poor, with a lot of down time. I only have my own experiences with them, it may have been a couple of uncommon cases.
So the 5 year cost following the typical registration payments for Namesco would come in at £60.36.
Now 123-Reg are a company much more focused on offering a service to the UK at a fair price, and one of the nations favourite registrars because of just that. The only thing to note here is prices are displayed excluding VAT but that isn't very clear.
Again, buying 2 years when registering offers a small discount for the first year at £8.38 for the first 2 years. A bit more expensive than GoDaddy it would seem, however the annual renewal of a .co.uk domain at 123-reg is only £5.99 a year, and if you renew for more than a year at a time you can get it for £4.19 a year - unbeatable price for a renewal.
Over 5 years this will cost you £26.35, doing year on year renewals, or £20.95 if you renew for multiple years.
Another big player, more so in the website hosting market, but their domain offering is getting big. The initial offering from 1and1 tells you about a great deal, much like GoDaddy where the first year is just £1.19, then adds on £8.39 as a typical year, so 2 years costs you £9.58.
Now, this is where their registration 'offer' makes you realise it's all a bluff to get you to buy a domain from them AND pay more than you should be, because their renewal price is £4.19/yr (in 2 year blocks), even the domain prices below the basket detailing the offer tell you it is £4.19 for 2nd and subsequent years, yet your basket is telling you £6.99/yr excluding vat. How does that work? 1and1 are generally quite hated by developers for making things difficult and complicated, this falls into the same story.
This comes out cheapest though at £20.96 over 5 years, but it does renew in 2 years blocks, which if you did the same at 123-reg, they would then be cheaper again.
An all round winner in comparison. There are no hidden surprises with renewals here, its simple straight forward pricing, they also do not try to sell you extras at every opportunity. A bit more tailored to those who know what they're doing with domain names, however still very straight forward if you don't.
The registration of a .co.uk domain name here costs $8.99 a year - roughly £6.20. So a little more than 123-reg but other extensions come in around £8 each on Dynadot, where as on other places listed here start at £9.99 (GoDaddy) up to £12 (123-reg) a year. So after buying a single .com domain you will already be saving money.
If you are after just UK domain names, we do recommend 123-reg, and highly discourage using Namesco. If you are likely to purchase other domain extensions in the future, for example .com .net or .org it would be beneficial in the long-term to use Dynadot. They are our preferred choice for domain name registrations.
Hopefully these insights into typical domain name offerings from the top UK domain registrars helps you pick a good one and avoid the bad ones. If you are still unsure what to do or are looking for someone to manage your domain name, then get in touch with us and we can help you out.
Watch out for an upcoming blog about how to find your perfect domain name and how to go about registering it.