Introduction to Website Hosting and Domain Names

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Introduction to Website Hosting

If I were to begin at an extremely basic level, I would say that website hosting is a computer that stores your website and is available 24 hours a day / 7 days a week. And having that this is an introduction to website hosting and domain names, it seems only fitting that we do our best to remain at the introductory level.

In today’s world, finding a place to host your website is very, very easy. And most website hosting companies will offer all the services you will ever need during your website owning career.

I will jump right in and tell you that the TOP 3 Website Hosting Companies in my opinion are:

Blue Host, GoDaddy and Host Gator.

With Blue Host being my Number 1 recommendation.

Now, there are a lot more Website Hosting Companies out there and I’m sure some of them are very good, but you will soon learn that comfortability is a huge factor when selecting a web host. Once you start to use a particular web hosting company, you will learn where all the helpful buttons are placed and once you are comfortable, it becomes more difficult to change companies, so why bother.

First Step is Create an Account

Your first step toward build a website will be to Create an Account with a Web Hosting Company.  The screenshot above shows the login screen for Blue Host and the “Create Account” button where this can be accomplished.  In Blue Host’s case, the first question you will be asked is which kind of hosting are you looking for.  We will go over each of your options in a few moments, but just remember that the prices you are looking at are typically “ANNUAL” pricing.  Meaning that they are a Per Month price, but you must pay one full year in advance.  I felt it was important to mention that since many Niche Website Newbies are confused by this early on.

Let’s take a look at some of the options you will have when selecting a Hosting Plan.  Blue Host offers three plans: Basic, Plus and Choice Plus.  And the options for each are really quite simple to understand.  Here are the main factors:

Number of websites – How many websites do you want to be able to create / host with your account.  Blue Host’s basic level allows you to create one website and one website only, whereas Plus and Choice Plus allow you to create an “UNLIMITED” number of websites.  This will become important later as your online business develops, but for now you may want to start with a single website, it is up to you.

How much Website Space do you Need? – This is not a very important question unless you plan to create a massive website.  And if that is the case, then you are likely on the wrong website.  I have been creating websites for over 15 years and I have never needed more space than a basic web hosting plan provides.

However, if you are concerned that you may need more space, just think of Website Space much like you would think of a computer’s hard disk space and Blue Hosts basic plan provides 50GB of website space, that’s 50 gigabytes of space.  Again, if you need more space that that, I would be very surprised and impressed.

Website Hosting - BandwidthBandwidth – Now there was a time when bandwidth was a big deal, but we don’t hear too much about it anymore.  So with respect to a newbie website, bandwidth is a complete non-factor, but again, I don’t know exactly what you have planned for your brand new website.

If you plan to allow users to upload information too your site or allow users to download information from your site, then bandwidth may be a consideration.  Still I doubt if any of us will need increased bandwidth any time soon, but perhaps in the future when we have millions of visitors a month.  Let’s keep dreaming, OK.

SSL Certificate – Now things are starting to get a little more important.  An SSL Certificate is an absolute essential if you ever want to rank with the Search Engines.  So what exactly is this vital piece of website functionality?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and is a layer of security for websites that is recognized around the globe.  The primary function of SSL technology is to provide encrypted data between web host and the web browser of the average web surfer.

SSL Certificate

SSL technology and SSL certificates are used by millions of online businesses to decrease the risk of sensitive information (e.g., credit card numbers, usernames, passwords, emails, etc.) from being stolen or tampered with by hackers and identity thieves.

Having a valid SSL Certificate shows that your website is legitimate and shows the user that they can trust that their information is secure when visiting your website.  Search Engines, such as Google, consider an SSL Certificate to be absolutely essential for any reputable website.

Malware Protection – When your website starts to attract a fair amount of traffic, all of the traffic may not be welcomed traffic.  It seems like the bad guys/gals want to ruin the party for everyone and your site could be the unwanted recipient of spam traffic or emails.  While most web hosting companies will have some level of protection, they will very often offer additional services.

Included Domain Names – As I have mentioned in “How Much Does a Website Cost” many Web Hosting Companies will offer one or more free domain name registrations with the purchase of Web Hosting Services.  My only suggestions here is to take advantage of this offer.  Some domain names can be extremely valuable and you will very likely end up owning several of them.

I highly recommend having a list of potential domain names that you can purchase at a moment’s notice, because you never know when you might get the chance to reserve one. I kind of said that “tongue in cheek”, but I do suggest that you have a few possible domain names on a list.  Anyway, we are going to talk about domain names later in the article, so let’s table that discussion until then.

Email Accounts – The email accounts that are available from a Web Hosting Company are no different that the one you have with your ISP (Internet Service Provider), such as Comcast or Verizon FIOS, with one major exception.  The email account that you purchase with your web hosting will include your websites domain, for example, if your website is:

FluffyAnimals.com (which is for sale, BTW, only $3,000)

anyway if you website is FluffyAnimals.com, your email would be admin@fluffyanimals.com or owner@fluffyanimals.com or what ever you choose.

This is more important then you might think.  Your visitors are going to want to deal directly with the staff (you) of your website and they will be “turned off” when they receive an email from JaneDoe@gmail.com.  This looks like a good time to remind everyone that this is your business and you should treat it like it’s a business.  Selling online requires trust, trust between you and your visitors, so always work to establish trust.

Email Storage – In today’s world, storage is very rarely an issue, unless you are talking about cellphones (lol).   For the Newbie, email storage space is most likely not going to be a big concern.  Much like website space, you would be hard pressed to be in need of additional email storage space.  Generally, large attachments will be the biggest consumer of email storage, so unless you business is email attachment intensive, I would not concern myself with space.

Marketing Packages – When a Web Hosting Company offers you a Marketing Package, please take full advantage of the offer.  In the recent past, most of these offers would come in the form of a Google Adwords voucher.  Today however as the market for web hosting gets more competitive and the demand for SEO services get greater, the services and packages offered get more diverse.

The list below shows just a few of the Marketing and SEO packages that either come with hosting or are offered at an additional cost:

  • Site Performance Optimization
  • Google Adwords Voucher
  • Site Content SEO Content Adjustments
  • Quarterly SEO Strategy Email
  • Content Delivery Network (250GB /mo)
  • Basic SEO Ranking Report
  • Website Security
  • Malware Clean-up
  • Search Engine Submission

Introduction to Selecting a Domain Name

The best way for me to introduce you to the world of domain names is to let you know upfront that there were over 340 million domain names registered by the end of last year, 2018.  And the list grows at a tremendous rate of about 25 million new names each year (rough numbers). So the hopes of purchasing the exact domain name you are looking for is between zero and none.

Do not get discouraged though, you will be able to find a name and that name will work just fine.  In fact, I’m going to guess that you can even get a .COM that suits you perfectly, but you will need to look fairly hard.  And I should also mention that you will likely get frustrated during your search having that according to www.singaporedatacompany.com about 1/3 of the registered domain names out there are not even used.

There is a very simple explanation for this, DOMAIN NAMES ARE INTERNET REAL ESTATE, and as such they have a very specific value.  So there are some folks out there, myself included, that bought up domain names in an effort to resell them at a much higher price.  If someone is looking to buy a domain name that you own, you can indeed sell that domain name to the interested party at what ever price is negotiated.

Thing to consider when Buying a Domain

So now that I have told you how difficult it is to pick the right domain name, I’m gonna add a few more restrictions for you.  I’m still going to tell you not to get very “hung up” on selecting the absolute perfect domain, bu here are a few factor you might strongly consider:

It just has to make sense – Your domain name should “fit” with the subject matter of your website.  I hope that I do not need to explain this in detail, but I’ll just say that you cannot have a website about “Stethoscopes” and use a domain name like www.rentacabin.com, it just won’t make sense to anyone.  In addition to making sense, I would not try to get too clever with my domain names either.  Not everyone has your sense of humor, so stick with the basic meanings of words and phrases.  I’m sure the folks at ITscrap.com can attest to that.

Make it easy to type – This may sound a bit intuitive, but there are a few factors that can make domain names difficult to type.  The first one that comes to my mind is double letters that are not part of the same word.  For example a stereo store named Regis Stereo, would be likely to use regisstereo.com as their domain name and although it makes perfect sense, the double “ss” in the middle will make the name difficult to type correctly.

Keep it short – Shorter domain names are just better.  They are easier to remember and they are easier to type.  I’m sure you don’t have difficult remembering names like: eBay.com, Amazon.com or FaceBook.com.  One or two word domain names are best, but they are becoming very difficult to find, so three or four word names are becoming more popular.

The trick is to keep the three or four words short and definitely try to stay away from longer, difficult to spell words.  You might remember that I discussed starting a Stethoscope website called medinecessities.com, well I may reconsider, because this is the second time I have needed to look up how to spell “necessities”.

Use keywords – This factor is not as important as it was a few tears ago.  As the domain name market has exploded to be 350,000,000 names strong, it occurred to search engines that, perhaps we need to be more understanding of creative domain names.  But, it never hurts to have a prominent keyword for your domain name.

I know I was happy to get NicheWebsiteNewbie.com.

Target your niche – It seems pretty obvious that you want your domain name to match your niche, but it can be more challenging than you think.  Once you learn that every name you try is taken, you can start to stray and soon enough, you’ve lost your place.  For example, if we set out to grab a domain name for our favorite “pretend” niche website, we might look to get:

  • Stethoscope.com – TAKEN
  • Stethoscopecity.com – TAKEN
  • Stethoscopeworld.com – TAKEN
  • Stethoscopemart.com – TAKEN
  • Stethoscopestore.com – TAKEN
  • Stethoscopesite.com – TAKEN
  • Beststethoscope.com – For Sale for $3,295.oo
  • PickaStethoscope.com – AVAILABLE

As you can see, it took us several choices before we found a domain name for out Stethoscope website that was actually available to purchase.  And as we have discussed, just because a domain name is “TAKEN”, does not mean that it is being used.  It simply means that someone else has registered it and by all rights owns the name.

Avoid numbers and hyphens – The domain name world may be changing it’s mind regarding hyphens and numbers.  I am still inclined to suggest that you avoid them when possible, but use them when that make absolute sense.  If you are choosing a hyphenated domain name because it closely resembles a non-hyphenated domain name, people will likely type the non-hyphenated name anyway, so don’t bother.

Number in a domain name often need to be explained, which can be a problem in certain circumstances.  For example, if your domain name is Expo50.com, you may feel the need to explain that you hold expos in all 50 states, or that this is your 50th expo, either way it’s awkward.  Here again, numbers are not forbidden, but I would only use them if they make perfect sense.

Easy to Remember – It helps if your domain name is easy to remember.  This piece of advice ties in closely with the “keep it short” suggestion, but it really helps if people can easily remember the name.  I could tell you quite a few stories about how some of the more widely known domains came to be, but as you are aware, Google, eBay, Amazon are all household names now and of course very easy to remember.

Research the History – This suggestion applies strongly to “expired domains”, and if I haven’t mentioned, you can purchase recently expired domain names, but more about that later.

Anyway, some domain names have a past and the past can possible come back to haunt you, even if you are a new owner.  If a previous owner was involved with some shady practices, like spam emails, the domain might be blacklisted.

One great place to start researching the history of your domain is with MX TOOL BOX.COM, here you can perform a search that will tell you if your domain has been blacklisted by any email servers.  Another awesome tool is The WAYBACK MACHINE.COM, with this handy website, you can check on the visual history of any website using your domain.  Simply plug the domain name into the search bar and select the year and month you wish to view.

Act fast“The time to buy is when you see it” and I’m not sure if that phrase was coined by the “American Pickers” or not, but I love the show, so they get credit.  Never hesitate when you find a domain name you like.  They are low cost and if you choose to not use the name, you can always abandon it later.

6 comments

  1. Excellent article on Website Hosting and Domain Names, you have really cleared a few things up for me with this psot, I have been using GoDaddy but the others that you mentioned are new to me.  Using a the right hosting company is important and the services do vary, I prefer the GoDaddy.  I love the services and I am familiar with their structure, searching for domain name is easy with GoDaddy. Thank you for sharing. 

    1. Hello Abayomi

      I certainly agree and have been using GoDaddy for decades.  Long before the advent of WordPress, I felt that GoDaddy had the best support for Linux and other platforms. Wow that brings back some frightening memories.

      Anyway, I’m glad the article helped you.  I am very familiar with GoDaddy’s services, if you need any thing clarified do not hesitate to send me a question, through the Contact Form.

      Glenn

  2. Lots of good info. Even though I am a beginner at website building, I used to pass on to my customers some of these same nuggets of information to help them with either a site they already owned or one that my company was to build for them. I was responsible to provide appropriate raw data and domain name choices to the builders, so it all makes sense to me. Especially now that I have built my own here on WA. One thing though, and I know I will get “dinged” for it, but please check the article, I found a few spelling errors.  Again, the information is great and the layout is nice and clean. Good job!

    1. Jack,

      Thank you so much for the comment and I would never “ding” someone who takes the time to thoroughly read one of my articles, particularly when they pay enough attention to find spelling errors.  I hope that I have found and corrected the spelling errors, but after re-reading the article, I may need to make a few more adjustments.

      I am glad to hear that you are part of the community and I will see you around the pages of WA.

      Glenn

  3. Wow, this Is a very good post. I have always mixed the difference between web hosting and web domain up together but having read this post,I understand what they are now. I was also able to learn about the steps that one should take when one wants to choose a web domain name. This has been really helpful and I agree that the time to choose is now.

    Thanks.

    1. Hey John,

      Great name, both my father and son are named John. Anyway, many people have difficulty understanding the purposes of hosting versus domain names.  It gets even more confusing when you learn that domain names are only a “front” for an IP Address and need to be converted through DNS or Domain Names Services.

      But that is another conversation for another day. I am truly happy that the article cleared up the differences for you and as always I am here to answer any questions you may have.  Feel free to drop me a note if you need any help.

      Have a great day, Glenn

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