Crash Course on Finding the Best Domain Names and Hosting Service for Your Blog
Sometimes “blog speak” sounds strange to a newbie.
Along your blog journey you will run into some foreign terms being tossed around…blogger lingo that doesn’t make much sense.
Terms like domain names and hosting services–these might be completely new to you.
I can relate.
When I started blogging, I didn’t know a domain name from romaine lettuce. And why would a blog need twinkies and ding dongs? (Hostess…Hosting…Get it?…never mind.)
Hopefully this tutorial will help you out. The purpose here is to facilitate your understanding of what domain names and hosting services are all about, what they do, when to use them, how to use them, where you encounter them in the blog process and why they are important.
Are you ready? Let’s begin…
What’s in a domain name?
The domain name is the casual term for a DNS (Domain Name System), which is referencing the most commonly used system to connect internet addresses with web servers (also called web hosts. We will get to web hosts later.)
You may have noticed that people today don’t memorize phone numbers as much as they used to…the internet has a lot to do with that. This domain name system has been steadily replacing the older phone numbers of yesterday.
Domain names are important for communicating online.
Each domain name puts a sexy face onto a boring, utilitarian string of numbers called the “IP address.” These are the unique string of digits separated by a few periods that identify each individual computer being used over the internet.
For example, starbucks.com is a domain name that represents a certain number of IP addresses (I don’t know how many but it doesn’t matter for this illustration.) It could be two or it could be 22 addresses.
When you see http://www.starbucks.com/menu this is called a URL, which is used to identify specific web pages, in this example the menu page of the starbucks website.
All domain names have a suffix that includes a TLD (top level domain) at the end. You are probably familiar with these:
.com – commercial business
.org – nonprofit organization
.gov – government agencies
.edu – educational institutions
.net – network organizations
.mil – military
.ca – Canada
.ru – Russia
This is how it all looks together: www.(domainname).(suffix)
Picking the Right Suffix for Your Domain
You may have noticed the .com suffix is the most widely used one of all. If your blog is going to be used for a business purpose in any way, consider using the .com in your domain.
A .net suffix is a pretty common alternative to use when you find the .com has already been taken. That is why this blog uses the .net suffix.
Any blog that’s tied to a not-for-profit purpose, including a religious blog, is better served using the .org suffix if available. This helps people know what you’re all about and helps keep your marketing clear.
Occasionally you will see a business using a .org suffix or a not-for-profit using a .com, which is normally not good. It tends to confuse people and it makes your online business look amateurish. So don’t let your suffix be a turnoff to people.
Sticking to these unwritten rules helps to market your business with clarity. Using a suffix that doesn’t match intent also can draw the wrong people to your blog.
Does this make sense?
If your blog is tied to a religious institution, don’t use a .gov, because it’s not a government program or department. The .org would be best.
I’m just driving the point home that using the correct suffix is crucial.
More Tips on Choosing the Best Domain Name for Your Blog
Now comes the fun part: choosing your unique domain that identifies your blog.
I get asked about this by a lot of people—many are unsure if they have a good name for a blog or online business, and oftentimes want my opinion on the matter.
When I do get asked this I don’t get into brainstorming sessions because I don’t know anything about the person or what they want to accomplish with their blog. Only you know the vision of your blog, who you want to target as your audience, your voice as a writer, your personality, and the goals for your blog.
There are some tips I do recommend to help pinpoint your best domain name:
Keep these in mind as you brainstorm…
1. Choose a Short Domain
Studies tend to show a correlation between shorter domains and more visitors to the website, but it’s not 100 percent guaranteed. What matters most is if your domain is memorable or not. A four letter domain might be forgettable, while a 46 character domain might stick in your mind easily….think concise here but keep your blog marketing and branding in mind.
2. Consider a different angle to your domain name
Let’s say you have an idea for a domain and you use a domain registry (like ipage) to find out if funkychickenstrips.com is available. Well, even if that name is already taken, you could create a variable with it, like the city you live in, and go with funkychickenstripsphoenix.com
3. Include a keyword if it fits
If your business is Joe’s Pizzeria, you could use joespizza.com to make it easier for potential customers to find you (and easier to type.) Having keywords in your domain help you get found in search engines.
4. Use your personal name
This is something many people do. From stevemartin.com to marieforleo.com, those who have a business named after themselves do well to have their domain be the same as their name. If someone has already used your name, consider adding a middle initial or “jr.” or something like that to make your domain unique.
5. Ask if a domain is for sale
If a domain you really love is taken, check out what is on that site. Maybe there’s just a simple page with nothing on it. If the site doesn’t look busy or used much, why not go ahead and ask the owner if you can buy it? You can go to Who.is to locate the domain owner, then simply shoot them an email and offer them $30 for it. What do you have to lose?
6. Keep an open mind on your suffix
If the suffix you want isn’t available, that’s not the end of the world. You domain could be just as effective with “.biz” or “.me” or you could add a national suffix to your domain. Here are a few free tools that can help you locate the available suffixes in your country: Domai.nr, Last.fm, or Bit.ly.
How to Register a Domain Name
Once you decide on a domain, the next step is to claim ownership of it with a domain registrar.
GreenGeeks is the domain registrar that you can easily use with my blog setup–find a new domain or use a domain you already own with your setup. Simply locate the unlimited domains link in the middle of the Build Your Own Blog affiliate page.
Once your domain is set, you will then be ready to add hosting services to your blog.
What is a blog host and why do I need it?
A web host is a business that provides space on a server for clients. Normally this is a leased arrangement, and includes (hopefully) round-the-clock internet connectivity that’s reliable.
You also want to choose a web host with 24/7 customer support.
Can’t I just host my own blog?
Technically yes, you could connect your Mac or PC to the internet and let it serve your blog, but this is totally impractical for most.
Why? Because home-based internet connections don’t have enough power to serve a lot of users at one time.
So it’s best to hire a web hosting company.
Without them, we wouldn’t be able to maintain all the needed web servers that store our web pages. Host companies use powerful connections that enabling many visitors to access your website all at the same time.
If you want to run a web site you need web hosting because unless money is no object, trying to afford the web servers and connections necessary isn’t possible.
You are getting web space for your blog with hosting, and that’s a good thing.
This space is defined in a measurement called megabytes.
I looked for a simple definition of a megabyte and couldn’t really find one. This term is unavoidably technical, so here is one of the better definitions I found on Tech Terms dot com:
” A megabyte is 106 or 1,000,000 bytes.
One megabyte (abbreviated “MB”) is equal to 1,000 kilobytes and precedes the gigabyte unit of measurement. While a megabyte is technically 1,000,000 bytes, megabytes are often used synonymously with mebibytes, which contain 1,048,576 bytes (220 or 1,024 x 1,024 bytes).
Megabytes are often used to measure the size of large files. For example, a high resolution JPEG image file might range is size from one to five megabytes. Uncompressed RAW images from a digital camera may require 10 to 50 MB of disk space. A three minute song saved in a compressed format may be roughly three megabytes in size, and the uncompressed version may take up 30 MB of space. While CD capacity is measured in megabytes (typically 700 to 800 MB), the capacity of most other forms of media, such as flash drives and hard drives, is typically measured in gigabytes or terabytes.”
Of course, not everyone needs the same web space (number of files) to run their website. Depending on your budget and the scope of your online business, here are…
Five types of web hosting to consider.
1. Free Web Hosting
My recommendation on this is the same as free blogging services—don’t do it. Especially for a blog, which is supposed to be adding content on a consistent basis. Free services limit your ability to monetize your blog. In fact, the free host provider will run their own chosen ads on your site. Sound appealing? So unless you just have a web page to put up, stay away from free hosting because as you get further into your new blog and learn as you go, you will eventually want to switch to a paid host so you can make your blog better….why create the extra work of having to move your blog from a free host to one of the better choices like…
2. Shared Hosting
This service works well for the majority of those who set up their new blog with byob. The prices are affordable for those with smaller needs than a global corporation. Plus, you will have many more choices in monetizing your blog. You have greater administrative control over everything. On the technical side, you share dedicated servers with multiple users, and this helps keep the cost low.
3. Dedicated server
For those who want even more control over their blog, the dedicated server offers more features. You get complete administrative access and unregulated use of software applications. For those who plan on building a lot of traffic to their blog, you get to be the boss–but this does require more responsibility. Things like security and maintenance issues are something you will be required to supervise.
4.Managed dedicated server
This is like getting an upgrade from the “dedicated server” option. With this you get the hardware, software and continuous maintenance. This includes spam filtering, virus scanning and other services you can choose as a bundle.
This new technology can give your blog a big boost in performance. There are different types of cloud services offered out there, some fully host and others partially host. This can help a budget because you get hardware and do not have to hire IT staff. Great for small businesses. This also provides quick capability to increase the cloud server resources an a moments notice, which enables a blog to keep up with the changing needs of customers.
6. Clustered hosting
If a server goes down, it’s nice to know your blog will shift to another server without missing a beat. Clustered hosting is not cheap, but an excellent choice for high traffic blogs with a worldwide reach. You get wonderful availability of servers when needed, like if a server is getting repaired, your blog doesn’t have to stop with it. Understandably, the cost is high and the infrastructure needed requires a high amount of monitoring.
Whichever type of hosting you choose, not all services are alike. There are more detailed aspects to consider…
7 Factors to Think About Before Choosing a Web Host
Email can be easily forgotten in this process…consider your host to have an important role in your email communications. Ask yourself: Do they help filter out the spam? Be sure to check beforehand what their spam solutions are along with their overall email service. As I said in a recent blog post–email is alive and well. You need email to build an audience.
We all like a low price, right? Well, when it comes to choosing a hosting service, price shouldn’t automatically be the deciding factor. Like most anything, you do get what you pay for here too. The lowest price you find may not be right for you–particularly if you want to earn income with your blog. What if you found a host service that didn’t outsource their customer support? What if they have excellent hardware? Paying a little more for these things is worth it. A host that always offers their service for $1.50 a month isn’t going to be able to offer other factors that make a big difference.
HostAdvice – A site with comprehensive list of hosting companies and their packages. Use this site to compare prices of almost any web hosting companies’ hosting packages.
3. Technical Support
People want to be able to reach a live person when a technical glitch arises. Then they expect the person they are talking to will be able to fix the problem. At the very least, hopefully that person on the other end of the line can walk you through the steps that lead to the solution. This is understandably a huge factor when considering a host. Be sure to do a search on the reputation of the host’s customer service. If they aren’t reachable by email, toll-free phone or live chat, be wary. And it’s always a plus for busy bloggers to be able to reach their host 24/7.
Some hosts place little emphasis on customer support, so be sure to find one who values this service.
4.Area of Focus
A cookie cutter approach to websites is why free services aren’t very good. As you consider the benefits of investing in a new blog host, consider your unique needs. A blog host may entice you to buy their service at first with the low price of a shared plan, but that may not be a good long term plan for your blog business. Or perhaps your small personal fitness blog doesn’t need a huge amount of hosting. Check out the specialty/area of expertise a hosting service offers before you buy. Choose one that has a deep understanding of your particular niche. Searching for reviews and recommendations online will help you discern a company’s strong points and weak points.
5. Add-On Features
When you consider add-on features, ask yourself this — What does this hosting company offer that others don’t? Is there something they provide that sets them apart in your hosting choice? You will see lots of features offered, from multiple data centers, green practices, or features that make you feel secure, like scheduled backups and free domain privacy. Pretty much all hosting companies offer more than just some servers these days. If you see something that you just can’t live without, that could be the right host for you. Just know that these features are not all free. Many of them will add more to the total price.
6. Customer Reviews/Reputation
We Google everything these days, don’t we? So of course you’re going to do a search on a hosting service you are considering. Figuring out the reputation of a company takes a little sleuthing on your part….check out their social media profiles, read reviews–see what people are saying about them. Do they provide great customer service? When a website has trouble, do they provide prompt service along with a friendly attitude? What’s the overall vibe you get from reading the reviews? Social media and search engines definitely make it easier to find quality hosting services.
Web Hosting Talk – one of the largest web hosting community on the net.
HostAdvice – reviews submitted by users themselves.
7. Growth Potential
Many people who start their blog thru Build Your Own Blog have big dreams and visions for where they see their blog going in the future. If that’s you, consider if the hosting provider (along with the plan you select) will help your goals or not. Blogs can grow quickly when done properly…if your blog takes off now or two years from now–your hosting will play an important role in that success.
Most bloggers want to grow and don’t want an inadequate hosting service to slow down their progress. See if the host has VPS or Dedicated Server Solutions. Verify that they can smoothly upgrade your service when the time is right. Like I keep saying throughout this website, transferring from one host to another is a tedious process. This includes moving from a free host to one you paid. The right host can enable you to avoid these hurdles later on. This is also where research can be the difference in a well informed decision or not.
Why I recommend Blue Host for Hosting Service
There are plenty of reasons why I’m happy being affiliated with Blue Host….
- 24/7 U.S. based support
- They have blazing fast servers
- Proven track record
- 1 Click Installation
- Unlimited domains
Wrapping Up Domains and Hosting–What Now?
Knowledge is power.
With this little tutorial on web domains and web hosting, my hope is you are now feeling a little more empowered to start your blog (if you have not already.)
A little knowledge chases away fears once haunted by new blogger vocabulary.
Domains and Hosting Services are really not complicated…have fun choosing your domain, then take the first step to creating that blog you’ve dreamed about.
Instant message me on the website if you have questions during the blog setup.
I’ll see you on the other side of your blog.