Free domains are great...
Sure I agree, a free domain is amazing. Being able to start that project without the added cost? Incredible!
Just that £8 (or $10 for you guys on the other side of the pond) you no longer have to spend to get things going can make the world of difference.
Why free domains can be bad news...
Often when registering a free domain it is under an untrusted TLD and for this reason, it can massively affect SEO. Using untrusted TLDs such as .ga, .gq, .tk, cf, and .ml and others that are regularly offered for free, or even those offered for under £1/$1 such as .xyz are seen by search engines as being used more often than other TLDs for the purpose of scamming. For this reason, they don't show very highly in search results until they are trusted by the search engine and sometimes this can take months!
The true cost of free domains...
Free domains despite being free do have a cost to them and before you think you're not responsible for that cost, think again! While some registrars will charge you an additional fee for so-called premium DNS, or WHOIS data protection, most that offer free domains will charge upwards of 3x as much as the domain's value every year afterwards. Free domains aren't free forever. So while you get off lightly to start with, for a standard .co.uk you could be paying £5.50/year (as of the time of writing) when using my recommended registrar Dynadot, but you could instead be paying £18+/year (when bundled with privacy and other tools often offered free) after getting the first year free with other registrars!
So are free domains worth it?
In my personal opinion, I would say paying for a domain is the best move here, while it is a bit of a hit (yet only a very small one) early on, you get the best value in the long run! Instead of paying £18+ by the end of the second year, you could've paid as little as £10-11 by paying for the domain in the first place making it a better long-term deal. That price by the end of the 3rd year could be as high as £36+ instead of £15-£17 - more than DOUBLE the price!
So what should I do when registering a domain?
I'd advise using a competitively priced registrar such as Dynadot which I highly recommend to anyone in need of a domain as they do some great deals and their platform is very reliable with 100s of TLDs available! While free domains are an option I wouldn't advise using them personally when considering long-term costs and the trustworthiness of them, however, they are always an option.
If you still do want to register a free domain take a look at my last blog post to find out how you can get 52 free domains every year!
This issue includes a range of facts and opinions, all opinions are my own and all facts should be individually checked before concluding the best value for you.
This issue includes referral links. I receive credit when you use these, they will also provide you with the same amount of credit. Dynadot referral links only provide free credit when you spend upwards of £8/$10. I am not paid directly to promote this service.