Have you heard a song that goes? “…They know what is what, but they don’t know what is what..” This is the case quite often actually when it comes to the topic of domains and hosting. Obviously, not all business owners are computer experts and these two terms don’t necessarily have to ring a bell. So here a simple guide suitable for beginners.
In simple terms, a domain name is what people type in the browser when they want to visit your website, for example, www.yourwebsite.xyz The domain name is critically important for your brand and your online presence altogether. Think of it that way, your domain name has to be very close (or even the same if possible) as your brand name) if you want customers to find you easily online. Picking a domain name can often be tricky, remember how hard it was to come up with your company name and registering that with Companies House? The same thing basically, only Companies House is the Internet, that massive virtual space which contains a million domain names. Imagine the following situation, you spent hours and hours drawing up company name ideas, and then it turns out all are taken when you check. You don’t want that to happen with your company name or your domain. So get that creativity, do some brainstorming, and plan ahead when choosing a company name. To avoid a situation where a domain name is taken once you’ve already registered your company, it might be a good idea to check for both at the beginning. Don’t give up if your desired domain name is already taken, in time it might be available.
Checking if a domain is available is extremely easy, simply visit GoDaddy. These guys are probably the biggest shark in the sea, trusted by over 20 million customers, and offering amazingly low prices. Great customer support is another thing with them you don’t want to overlook, trust us, it matters. It might come as a surprise to you, but there are guys out there who only deal with domain sales. Imagine if you were the one to buy www.adidas.co.uk before the company did, surely they’d be ready to pay millions only to get their hands on that domain name! Again, it all comes down to doing your research, educate yourself. If you end up in a situation where a domain name is already taken, but it’d definitely what your business need, don’t give up just yet! You can easily find out who owns a domain and get in contact with them (time for some negotiations everyone). Just visit do a WhoIs search in Google, simple as that. You can find out cool things like when the domain was registered, by who, and most importantly when it expires.
Picking the right domain name is also essential in terms of SEO (search engine optimisation). This is essentially the first thing that Google will check, is it linked to your company name, is the name also linked to content on your website, etc. Lately, there has been another aspect you need to think of and that is the topic of voice search. We know you love your Alexa powered speakers, Siri companions, and of course your dear Bixby friends, so picking a domain name that is easily detected by voice search technology is a must nowadays. Try to go for something simple, with many vowels and not too long preferably.
Easier said than done, we know! Don’t worry we are here for you, just give us a shout and we can talk about all that.
Let’s look at that hosting part now! A hosting is technically a service allowing your website to be visible by others. Think of it that way, the hosting is where the content of your website lives. So your domain name is your address and the hosting is where the domain lives. Each website needs hosting, and yet it is not mandatory to purchase the domain name and hosting together or from the same provider. Millions of companies out there offer hosting services, but just imagine how much it would cost you if your website was “down” quite often. When the hosting is unreliable, it means that your website will be offline, therefore costing you money and lost potential sales. Even though a domain name and hosting are two different services they work together and there is practically no point in having one without the other. If you are looking for an established company selling hosting services you need to watch out for those reviews. Again, GoDaddy comes up right at the top of that list but you could also check others like SiteGround or BlueHost.
The good thing about domains and hosting is that you can always switch providers if you feel that you are not getting the service you need. Normally a domain name or hosting service is available for a year and just to remind you they don’t need to be from the same company and changing the provider does not mean you’d need to change your domain name too!
Now that you understand what is the difference between a domain name and hosting, let’s look at the most important bit for you as a business owner. “What about costs” I hear you say! Without a domain name and hosting your website can’t exist. A domain normally goes for around £7 per year and the hosting hovers around £5 a month. So all in all, you are looking at around £70 for the whole year. It is not a massive expense, and yet irreplaceable. Nothing will help you boost your online presence as much as having a website, it is essential for building customer trust in your brand but also helps you spread your voice everywhere and reach millions of potential customers. This is the easy part! Now start thinking of how to design that website of yours and what message do you need to get across. Share your thoughts and experiences about domain names and hosting. Was it easy to find the right provider for your domain and hosting and if not, how difficult was it to switch? Drop your comments and join the conversation!