Buying a domain name is an investment that will form the foundation of your brand online. Your domain name is the part of the URL that users will associate with you. Choosing a domain name that’s both easy to search and easy to remember is key, but how much can a domain set you back?

What is a domain name?

What exactly is a domain name? All websites have their own unique domain names, which are linked to an associated IP address. Your web browser needs this IP address to load the correct website, but since it would be difficult for people to remember the IP addresses for different websites, domain names are used to make websites more memorable, easier to find and clearly linked to a brand. This means you can type in an easy-to-remember domain name and the Domain Name System (DNS) will link this to the relevant IP address, allowing your browser to retrieve website data from DNS servers and web servers.

What is a top-level domain?

In addition to your brand name, your domain name also includes a domain extension or top-level domain (TLD), which is the part that comes after the dot at the end. Originally, there were only six domain extensions to choose from, but nowadays there are many different types of domains to suit any website.

Overall, there are four main categories of TLDs: generic top-level domains (gTLDs) like .com and .org, new TLDs like .tech and .art, country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) like, and sponsored top-level domains like .gov. In addition to telling visitors more about your website, your choice of TLD can have a huge impact on the final cost of domain registration. 

How much does a domain name cost?

The cost of a domain name can vary massively due to a number of factors. If you're registering a new domain, the biggest factor will be the TLD you choose. However, if you're purchasing an existing domain, then the name itself, as well as everything else to do with the site, will have an influence.

If you're choosing a generic top-level domain like .org, .com or .net, you can expect to pay between £1 and £10 per month. However, if you choose one of the premium new TLDs, the price of the domain could be well over £1000 from the get-go. Saying this, many domain name providers will offer a discount on the first year of your domain registration, which can help to cut costs – at least for that first year.

Who decides how much TLDs cost?

The original price point of a top-level domain is set by a domain registry. Certain domain registries are responsible for particular TLDs, and they provide these at wholesale to domain registrars. It’s then up to the registrars to set the final price. The price of a top-level domain is usually pretty standard across the board, with many domain registrars offering similar price packages.

Can you get domain names for free?

Some Web Hosting and Website Builder packages, such as those from Fasthosts, include a free domain name. This means you can technically get your domain for free, although you’ll have to pay for other associated services like hosting your website. If you’re hoping to build a website on a budget, choosing a web hosting package with a free domain name and SSL certificate included could be a great way to keep costs down and avoid paying for multiple subscriptions.

Renewal costs

As mentioned earlier, many domain registrars offer a discount on the first year of domain registration. However, you don’t own your domain name outright when you buy it, so you’ll eventually have to renew your domain name to keep hold of it.

Make sure you consider the renewal price of your domain name and not just the initial price of registration. Some domain providers will offer discounts when you purchase for a longer timeframe, but don’t forget to renew when this expires. It can be difficult and expensive to retrieve a domain name that’s expired, and this can put your brand identity at risk too. Luckily, many domain registrars offer auto-renewal with domain registration, so you don’t have to worry about losing your domain.

Additional services

Often, you can add additional features and services to your domain registration, including SSL certificates, DNS management, web hosting and email hosting. Adding extra services will naturally increase your domain costs, but paying for these services together can be much more convenient. Plus, you won’t have to pay for as many separate subscriptions, which means you could save money overall by bundling everything together.

Another extra service you can add is WHOIS protection. When you register a domain name, your personal contact information is stored in a public directory called ‘WHOIS’. However, if you want to keep your data private, some registrars will allow you to purchase WHOIS protection. Instead of displaying your personal email address and other personal information, the WHOIS directory will then display a proxy email address. This can help prevent your email address from ending up on spam lists.

If there’s a domain you’re interested in but it’s not currently available, you may be able to find the current owner in the WHOIS directory and contact them to make an offer. However, for desirable domain names that are short, specific and keyword-rich, you may have to pay a lot of money to get them. Some domain names have even sold for millions of pounds in the past – we’ll take a look at some of the most expensive domains ever later in this article. 

Transfer fees

If you’re not happy with your current domain registrar, you can transfer your domain name to a different provider to take advantage of their prices and offers. Some registrars charge for this, but others – like Fasthosts – provide free domain transfers. Therefore, before choosing a domain registrar, make sure they offer free domain transfers so you’re not stuck with an unexpected bill.

The most expensive top-level domains

Common domain name, or other country-code top-level domains, are amongst the cheapest TLDs you can opt for. But what about the more obscure domain extensions out there – how do they fare? Alternative TLDs are a lot more expensive than your average .com domain, and although the payment is annual rather than monthly, it can still be a large chunk out of your pocket.

Here are some examples of the most expensive TLDs:

  • .car – £1999.99
  • .luxury – £499.99
  • .game – £399.99
  • .movie – £279.99
  • .casino – £129.99
  • .creditcard – £124.99
  • .host – £104.99
  • .bar – £99.99
  • .build – £99.99
  • .credit – £99.99
  • .energy – £99.99
  • .gold – £99.99
  • .loans – £99.99

If you've got a big budget, one of these top-level domains could be just the thing to set your website apart from the competition. However, if you're a lean tech startup and you'd like to save money, there's nothing wrong with an .io domain name.

Why are these TLDs so expensive?

The common denominator between these top-level domains is that they each focus on a specific keyword. Keyword stuffing is not best practice in SEO, and is not recommended in any case – especially in your domain name. To combat this, however, you could register a separate keyword-focused top-level domain. Registering multiple domains will help you catch all possible traffic, strengthen your brand and protect your domain from typosquatting.

For example, if your online casino business registers the domain extension .casino, you are automatically linking your site to the keyword ‘casino’. Registering a keyword TLD can help you to drive relevant traffic to your site, and will make sure you don’t overcompensate by stuffing a keyword into your name.

Overall, your domain name shouldn’t have a huge impact on your website’s ranking in search engine results, but it can make a difference. Choosing an SEO-friendly domain name is all about using relevant keywords (without keyword stuffing), choosing the right TLD, avoiding special characters and keeping your domain short, punchy and memorable – this will ensure you get relevant visitors and don’t lose traffic to spelling mistakes and ‘processing fluency’. 

10 of the most expensive domain names

Every domain name is unique, and they can only be registered to one account at a time. This means once a domain name is registered, no one else can have it. Not unless they want to buy it off the owner, and that can get pricey.

So, let’s take a look at the most expensive publicly reported domain names:

  • – £724 million
  • – £41 million
  • – £29 million
  • – £29 million
  • – £25 million
  • – £25 million
  • – £15 million
  • – £13 million
  • – £9 million
  • – £7 million

The above domain names are all very specific and are centred around only one or two words. And there is a good reason for that. As we explained earlier, registering a keyword TLD can greatly increase the amount of relevant traffic flooding to your site. This is also the case when including a keyword in your domain name – it helps to tell Google exactly what your site is about.

So, to avoid overloading your primary domain with keywords, you might want to register a secondary domain for your site – one that focuses on your target keyword. This is exactly what the owner of, DSW, has done – using as their secondary domain. This is not the case for all of the above, however, with many of them using their domain name as their brand name too. For example,

Looking to buy your very own domain name? We have a wide range of TLDs available to suit all budgets and types of website. So, why not get in touch with our team today to discuss your options?