It’s hard to overstate just how much the Internet has changed business. While small companies that operate locally can sometimes avoid having to have a website, the vast majority of companies now need an online presence to stay competitive. When creating a website, however, the first step is to choose the right domain name and host for your company. Here are four steps to take when choosing a domain name and host.
1. Find Out What’s Available
The low cost of purchasing a domain and running a website has fueled the Internet’s popularity. As a result, finding available domains can be challenging. Many guides covering how to create a website suggest using your company name, and this can be a simple and viable strategy if your company name is available. If your company’s name is generic enough, your may need to append the industry to the end of the name. It can be tempting to add a hyphen between words if your target name is already taken, but doing so can make it difficult to attract traffic from search engines.
Another option to consider is domain names outside of the .com, .net, and .org options. While it might be tempting to choose a less common top-level domain, doing so might hurt your rankings as Google and other sites often rank .info websites, for example, lower than .com websites. However, the recent expansion of these domains might make search engines a bit more lenient. It might also be worth looking for domains that are for sale, as an investment of a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars might be worth it for some businesses.
2. Purchase the Domain and Find the Total Costs
Most common domains are relatively cheap on an annual basis, but it’s important to read through your registrar’s pricing policies to ensure the cost won’t go up in the future. Promotional pricing often means the first year is inexpensive, but prices typically go up after that. Again, pricing for .com and other common domains tend to stay fairly consistent. Newer top-level domains might not be as predictable in terms of cost.
When determining how to create a website, you’ll also want to take a look at hosting providers as well. Many hosts offer a free domain to customers who sign up for plans, and factoring in this cost can help you determine which host is right for you. This is especially important if you’re looking for a less common top-level domain, as the price savings can be significant. However, competition means most hosts provide reasonable prices, and paying a better more for a host with a better reputation might be worthwhile.
3. Supporting Domains
Almost all businesses are best served by having a central domain, but users won’t always enter the domain name correctly. If your website becomes popular, malicious actors might register names similar to your domain in an effort to steal traffic. If you register a .com domain, consider purchasing .org and .net domains as well. In addition, consider ways users might mistype your domain and consider paying for these misspellings as well. Once you pick up similar or supporting domains, have them redirect to your main website.
It’s also worth going over other candidate domain names you considered. If you choose a domain name without hyphens, consider purchasing the hyphenated version as well. If you considered a domain name that doesn’t include your full business name, it might be worth spending a bit to have it redirect to your main page. The cost of domains is fairly low, and purchasing a few supporting domains might be enough to land a customer or client you might have lost otherwise. View these domains as investments.
4. Manage Your Domains
There’s generally no need to hire an expert to manage your domains, but there are a few tricky details. When users access a domain, their browser contacts a domain name server that returns the numerical address of the website. If you switch providers in the future, you’ll need to change this setting to ensure users are directed to the correct host. It’s worth taking some time to ensure you can access this setting in case you need to change it in the future. Make sure to choose a secure password, and make sure you don’t lose it as doing so can make managing your domain difficult.
You’ll also want to make sure you can receive emails from your domain host. It’s easy to forget when it’s time to renew your domain, and failing to do so means someone else might be able to steal it. Automatic payments are great, but changing credit card numbers means your payment might not go through when it’s time to renew. If you change your email address, make sure you change it with your domain host as well.
Domains are central for forming a durable online presence, and a bit of research can go a long way toward launching a success online endeavor. However, diligence is important as small mistakes can lead to the loss of your domain. Organization is essential for succeeding in business, so keep your domain management practices as organized as possible.