Choosing Your Website’s Domain Name and Host

  • How do I choose a good domain name and host for my website?
  • What is web hosting?
  • What are the 3 main types of web hosting?

Imagine there’s a collector named Malik who owns a shop called Malik’s Antiques.

Malik has been selling vintage furniture and assorted collectibles in his shop for years, but now he’s trying to have an online presence, too.

Malik has never set up a website and isn’t sure where to start, so let’s help him out by choosing a domain name that suits his business and may attract potential customers.

Malik should pick maliksantiques.com because it describes his business and will be easy for people to search find. Buyfrommalik.com doesn’t contain the word antiques, contain the word antiques, so online buyers may miss it. Beautifuloldstuff.net isn’t ideal because it doesn’t include Malik’s business name or the keyword.

Think of your domain name as your business’s storefront sign on the web, the equivalent of the sign on a physical store.

An ideal domain name accurately describes your business so it’s easy for potential customers to find. Keep it relatively short, simple, easy to spell, and try to avoid using confusing hyphens and numbers.

It helps to include a recognizable keyword in your domain name. For example, Malik including the word “antiques” makes his site easier to find for people searching online for antiques, even if they’ve never heard of Malik.

To register a domain name, go to a site like Google Domains, godaddy.com or Hover and see what’s available.

Most domain names are pretty cheap (many can be purchased for under $15), but you need to remember to renew yours every year, or you could lose it. Most sites offer discounts if you register for several years or sign up for auto-renewal.

If possible, register domains with a “.com” extension. This is the most recognized domain extension, though you could also use “.net.” If your business is a non-profit, you can use “.org.” If it’s education-related, you can use “.edu.”

Once you pick a domain name, purchase web hosting so your site has a place to operate.

Hosting is offered by companies like Blogger, Shopify, Squarespace, and Wix. They provide server space that houses a website’s images, text, and data and makes them accessible to people on the web.

There are 3 main types of web hosting: shared hosting, virtual private server (VPS) hosting, and dedicated hosting. The one you choose will depend on how much traffic you anticipate and how much data you’ll need to store.

Shared hosting

Shared hosting is when your site’s information is stored on a server that also houses other sites’ information.

Shared hosting can be the most economical type of web hosting and ideal for small business websites that don’t have special technical needs.

The downside to shared hosting is that your site could be slowed if one of the sites you share server space with experiences heavy traffic.

VPS hosting

VPS hosting can offer more power than shared hosting. You still share server space with other sites, but you don’t have to split resources like storage and memory. This means your site can handle higher traffic levels.

Dedicated hosting

Dedicated hosting, where you don’t share server space with anyone else, can be the most expensive and most reliable option. It makes sense for sites that handle a lot of traffic or need special features and extra data security.

No matter which type of hosting and which provider you pick, check if they offer any special capabilities and support that your website might need.

24/7 customer support can be a valuable feature. If you experience problems, you’ll want to be able to contact your hosting provider immediately.

E-commerce protection is essential if you’re selling things online. Check if your host offers a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) that encrypts your customers’ financial information to help make your transactions more safe and secure.

Hosting services often offer an integrated website builder tool, too. If you don’t have the budget for a web developer, this can be a good way to get your site off the ground and make it look professional without paying for a custom design.

You should also check a host’s uptime, or the percentage of time websites run without interruption. Use a service like MyHostingUptime to check uptime rates of potential hosts. Uptime rates should be 99.999% or higher.

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