If you run a physical business, like a supermarket, you would have a building; you will use it to store and sell food, and you will have a street address so that customers can find you. An e-commerce business has the online equivalents of a building and street name. Instead of a building, a website is hosted on a server. It is a place where it stores all of its files, code, and data. And instead of a street address, a website has a domain name – essentially, the web address you type into your internet browser.
Running a website requires you to both register a domain name and pay for hosting services. Buying a domain name only gives you the right to use that particular name for a specific period, but you can pay for longer periods. It is also possible to move a domain name to a different company and to change hosting providers. Many companies will offer both services to you. But how to choose the right domain name and hosting? In this article, we’re going to answer that question.
Types of Web Hosting
Let’s start with the hosting.
In the following types of web hosting, your website’s files and information are stored on a physical computer, referred to as a server, or on a virtual, cloud-based server. The server sends your information to other computers when users enter your domain name into a browser.
You will have to decide what kind of hosting provider you would like to use based on the amount of control you want over your hosting and how much traffic your website is likely to generate.
We love WPCrafter’s video explaining the differences between the types of web hostings!
1. Shared Hosting
This is the most common type of web hosting, where several users share one powerful server. The benefits of shared hosting include the provider preconfiguring your server. Plus, the provider does all the maintenance and security updates for you. In addition to this, it is easy to use and much cheaper than other hosting options. However, since this is a shared server, other sites’ amount of load will affect your site’s performance. This limits the capabilities of your server: your website’s ability to access its database and run programs may be restricted.
2. Dedicated Hosting
Rather than sharing server space, you get all of it to yourself – the entire physical box is rented to you. You can customise the software and hardware to your needs, and you won’t have to share performance with other sites. That said, you should only select this option if you are familiar with basic server maintenance and management.
This option is great for big companies that receive a lot of traffic and need a powerful server so that their website functions fast and correctly.
3. Virtual Private Server (VPS)
VPS is a cloud-based server that offers all the features of a dedicated server but at the reduced cost. It offers a shared server without sharing some portions of server resources. VPS hosting usually has an easy-to-use interface and performance that is almost always better than shared hosting. If you decide to use this, you should be familiar with basic server maintenance and management.
4. Cloud Services
This is the most reliable and powerful service. Instead of using the disk space of a single server, it runs on giant public clouds like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure. These providers will build whatever configuration suits your needs; its main advantage is scalability. If you need to increase the amount of traffic your website can handle, you can just pay your provider more.
When choosing a hosting provider, you should consider how much traffic your website will pull. If you aim for something with more reach than just a small, local business, then a cheap shared hosting account may not be appropriate for you. Furthermore, when paying for hosting, ensure that your site isn’t locked into one host so you can change provider should there be any changes to the ownership of your business. It is easier to do this if you have been backing up your site. When you change providers, you can load your backup to that provider and point your domain name to them.
Choosing a Domain Name
Domain names are an important part of your brand. They are the first impression of your website and can affect your search engine optimisation. There are many factors to consider when choosing a domain name. In fact, it is not too dissimilar from choosing a company name. Though, there are three important categories that every brand should take care of.
An important thing to consider when choosing your domain is how it will end – .com is by far the most recognisable and popular extension (43% of websites use it). .net and .org are other examples. Trying to use niche ones that go with your brand, like .club, is not advisable. The reason is, it just adds something extra for the user to remember when entering your address into a browser.
2. The Name Itself
What are some of the most famous websites you can think of: Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Amazon, or Twitter? Some of these words are made up or have nothing to do with the business’s products. But they are a brand and are, therefore, easy to remember and search for. However, coming up with a memorable brand name isn’t easy. If you have one for your company and it can serve as a domain name, then you will find it easier to get online traffic than if your domain name is just a list of descriptive words.
For example, southlondonfurnitureshop.com might very clearly explain what the website will sell, but it is long, not unique, and easy to forget. However, it is not always possible to come up with a new, memorable word that fits your business. If this is the case, try and keep the domain name short – 12 letters tend to generate the most traffic – and use a keyword that describes your business. Also, avoid hyphens and numbers as they are another thing to remember to type in, and make sure it is easy to pronounce so people can pass on their new favourite website.
Lastly, check to see if your name has already been trademarked (you can use this website for that purpose) and protect your brand by purchasing different extensions and misspelt versions of your name, so customers reach your page even if they type it in the wrong.
It is not always possible to come up with a new, memorable word that fits your business. If this is the case, try and keep the domain name short - 12 letters tends to generate the most traffic - and use a keyword that describes your business. Also, avoid hyphens and numbers as they are another thing to remember type in, and make sure it is easy to pronounce so people can pass on their new favourite website.
Where to Register a Domain Name
There are different options you can turn to register your domain name, and many of them will provide hosting services too.
Domain.com allows you to select the length of the term and the extension; Bluehost offers combined domain name and hosting services – you can get a free one-year term for a domain name if you sign up to their web host; GoDaddy.com offers protection from spam and scams should you want it; and Namecheap.com includes privacy protection for free.
Like with many decisions in business, there are pros and cons to each type of hosting and different domain names. It is important that you make decisions that fit your online business, though. There is no point in paying for a powerful cloud-based hosting option if you generate little traffic; a large website with lots of content to load may struggle on a shared server. A long domain name is hard to remember and might be mistyped in a browser; a shorter domain name needs to match the brand you are trying to create.
A domain, like a street address for your house, is simply the address where your website is found, the address you type into your internet browser.
In the same way all of your belongings are kept in your house, a website is hosted on a server – a place where all of its files, code and data are stored.
A domain and hosting is necessary to have a location and place to store all the things to you need for having a website you can call you own.
One powerful server is shared by several users. The benefits of shared hosting include the provider preconfiguring your server and doing all of the maintenance and security updates for you.
Rather than sharing server space, you get all of it to yourself – the entire physical box is rented to you.
Virtual Private Server is a cloud-based server which offers all the features of a dedicated server but at the reduced cost you’d expect of a shared server.