What is a custom domain?

Connor H. | August 10, 2023
8 mins

When it comes to building an online presence, it all starts with a domain name. It’s your personal address, where everyone can discover the content you’ve created.

A “custom” domain is one that includes your personal or business brand name. This differs from a “generic” domain, which only contains words or phrases.

For example, imagine you run a cupcake shop called “Cupcakes by Sam.” A fitting custom domain name for your business could be cupcakesbysam.com. It quickly tells the world that you are Sam, and you bake cupcakes.

In this article, you’ll discover everything you need to know about custom domains, from the definition, to the benefits, and beyond.

What is the definition of a “custom domain”?

As you already know, a custom domain is a personalized domain name that includes the brand name of a business or personal brand. It may also include keywords that reflect the nature of the site.

Before we continue, let’s get back to basics and remind ourselves what a domain name is.

If you’re anything like me, you have at least five tabs in your browser bar right now. This is perfect for quickly understanding domains and how to identify a custom domain.

In the browser bar above this article, you’ll see namecheap.com/guru-guides/what-is-a-custom-domain-dp/. This long collection of words includes our domain name, namecheap.com. Interestingly, it is also a custom domain, because Namecheap is the name of our brand and business.

Cycle through the other tabs you have open, and you might see domain names like youtube.com, google.com, and netflix.com. These are also all custom domains.

Generic domain names differ from custom domains and include generic words or phrases. For example, instead of youtube.com, google.com, and netflix.com, the generic domains could be shortvideos.com, searchengine.com, and filmsandtvshows.com.

If you’re wondering why we need domain names, let’s sidestep to a brief technical lesson about internet protocol (IP) addresses.

Every website on the Internet is identified by an IP address, made up of a unique series of numbers. The IP address is like a dedicated mailbox address and helps computers and devices know where to send and receive information. It means you get connected to the site you want to visit.

We use domain names instead because the series of numbers is so long and difficult to remember. So, if you want to visit your favorite domain registrar, you’ll just type namecheap.com into the browser bar. Just like when you scroll down your phone’s contact list to a saved contact labeled “Taxi”, it brings up the number for your local taxi company. 

And now, back to custom domains.

Why is owning a custom domain important for online campaigns?

Whatever your reason for getting online, a custom domain name will help define you as a brand. 

Cast your mind back to cupcakesbysam.com. Including the keywords “cupcake” and “sam” means that your web visitor will have no illusion about who and what they’re about to learn from your website content. But that’s just for starters. There are many more benefits to owning a custom domain.

The benefits of using a custom domain

Next, we’ll dive into the plus points of creating a custom domain name for your business and personal brand. 

  • Branding: Promotes brand consistency and recognition

From building a blog with a custom domain to a huge video-sharing platform, a domain name can help reinforce your identity as an individual or business. 

You’ll constantly shout about your custom domain, whether over SMS or on a giant billboard in Times Square, New York — the more your domain name is seen, the more memorable and recognizable your brand becomes. 

  • Customer Trust: Encourages customers who trust your brand to click through to your site

If you’re a fast-food burger fan, there may be specific burger joints you trust over others. The same goes for website addresses. 

You’re probably reading this article because you’re an avid Namecheap customer. Glance up at the browser bar again at namecheap.com/guru-guides/what-is-a-custom-domain-dp/. As a loyal fan, you know that seeing namecheap.com means you’re about to digest a brilliant guide from a brand you love and trust. 

  • Discoverability: Improves search engine optimization (SEO) 

Optimizing your brand for search engines is all part of the Internet game. And, if your custom domain matches what people are searching for, search engines will put you closer to the top of the results page — a win-win. The higher your rank, the easier you’re found, and the more you’ll be seen. 

  • Discoverability: Improves search engine optimization (SEO) 

Optimizing your brand for search engines is all part of the Internet game. And, if your custom domain matches what people are searching for, search engines will put you closer to the top of the results page — a win-win. The higher your rank, the easier you’re found, and the more you’ll be seen. 

What is a generic domain?

While a custom domain is personalized and unique to a personal or business brand, a generic domain is more broad. For example, instead of the custom domain cupcakesbysam.com, generic domains look like the following:

  • buycupcakes.com
  • cupcakebakingtips.com
  • cupcakerecipes.com

A generic domain is more descriptive and potentially attracts a wider audience.

However, there can be some disadvantages to choosing a generic domain over a custom domain, which we’ll learn about next.

What to consider when you choose a generic domain

Before you get too excited about generic domains and open up your wallet, let’s take a moment to consider the following points:

  • Branding: Are you missing out?

If your domain name isn’t personalized to a specific brand, you could miss out on the chance to build brand recognition for your business. 

  • Availability: Is your domain taken?

Generic domains are popular, and because of this, your dream domain may already have been snapped up by another person or business.

  • Cost: Is there an additional cost when you buy a custom domain?

You may find that generic domains cost more because they contain the keywords that everyone wants. However, the price of any domain, custom or not, depends on a number of factors, such as the popularity of the top-level domain (TLD) and the keywords you want to use. Check out our domain prices list to get a better understanding.

  • Ease: Is using a generic domain easier?

When you build a site offering generic content, for example, cupcake recipes, a generic domain like cupcakerecipes.com is a sensible, easy choice. Alternatively, if you want to grow an exciting brand to attract loyal paying customers, a custom domain like cupcakesbysam.com is more suitable.

How much does a custom domain cost?

If you’re a startup looking to save money, scary thoughts of “How much is a custom domain?” may have you reaching for a calculator and biting your nails. 

As we already know, the cost entirely depends on various factors. This includes the type of TLD you want to use, how long you want to register it for, and the domain registrar you are buying it from. 

In general, the cost of a domain name can range from as little as $0.99 to as much as $50 or more. 

How to get a custom domain and build an online presence

By now, you understand the many benefits of a custom domain and itching to get one. Good news — you can achieve your dream in just a few steps.

1. Visit a domain name registrar to check availability

First things first, work out if your dream domain is available. Head to a registrar (the best one being Namecheap, of course!) and check domain name availability

2. Choose a company to host your domain

Now select a leading registrar or web hosting service to manage the hosts, files, and content that make up your website. At Namecheap, we have a range of hosting plans to suit any budget (hint, hint).

3. Register (buy) your domain name

When you get a custom domain, you must register it before anyone else does and then wait for it to be processed.

4. Alternatively, transfer it

If your domain is already with a registrar, you can always transfer your domain to another. You may want to transfer because you’ve found a registrar that offers a better price, service, or tools — whatever the reason, it’s easy to do. 

5. Use a website builder and build a website

The last step is to build a website. There are plenty of intuitive website builders to choose from, and it’s a great way to build a professional or business site without worrying about being a professional coder. Here at Namecheap, we offer Sitemaker, which allows you to build a website in minutes. 

Go forth and register a custom domain

Well, that’s all, folks! You’ve now learned everything you need to know about custom domains. 

Head to our domain name search to secure one today.


Picture of Connor H.

Connor H.

Connor is a writer and musician from Nottingham in the UK. Having worked in both writing sectors and music spaces, Connor landed at Namecheap as a Domains Copywriter in 2022. Along his journey, he’s delivered for clients such as NME Networks, Virtuoso, and Kormax. While he’s away from the written word, he’s trying to come up with ideas that ‘definitely won’t fail this time’ with his business partner Harry.

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