Whether you’re a startup or a blogger, few moments are more exciting in your new endeavour than the day you get your brand new website finished and uploaded to your web hosting provider.
Once it’s up there, you need a quick, simple way of directing people to your awesome content. You need something your audience will remember, something that’s going to linger in their mind long after that initial visit. You need something they’ll be able to quickly -and accurately- bash into their browsers the next time they want to stop by, and ideally you need something that they can easily share with their friends in conversation.
What you really need then, is a domain name. Luckily, most web hosting providers come with a free domain name as part of their package, though picking the right one for you isn’t always so simple.
Let’s look at some of the factors you might want consider.
What is a domain name?
Whether your brand new website is stored with a shared hosting company along with many others, or on its own dedicated server, you’re going to need some way of translating the address of your site from a long string of impossible-to-remember numbers into a something short and simple. Your domain name does just that, allowing your visitors to access your site by typing myawesomewebsite.com into their browser instead of something complicated and unwieldy like 123.456.7126.96.36.199.
What kind of name should I pick for my website?
Choosing a domain name as part of your cheap web hosting package is all about keeping it short whilst still providing potential visitors with enough of an idea about what they’ll actually find on your site.
Let’s take our friend Stacy, for example. Stacy lives in London and has just started a new business delivering flowers.
When she sets up her new website, she creates the name londonflowerdelivery.co.uk, and in no time starts to see scores of visitors because:
A) That domain is easy to remember
B) It tells people exactly what the website is about
C) It gives her an edge over her competition in terms of Google search rankings because it contains the kind of key words (‘flower delivery,’ ‘London) that her customers are going to be searching for.
What kind of domain extension should I go for?
The extension, or Top-Level Domain (TLD) as its often known, is everything in a website address from the ‘dot’ onwards. Back to Stacy’s website, her extension is the .co.uk part of londonflowerdelivery.co.uk, but if that was already taken, she could have opted for a number of other available extensions ranging from .com all the way to simply .uk.
If she wanted to take advantage of new kind of domains, she could have even changed her website address to flowerdelivery.london, the dot-london being her extension.
Which one you opt for is going to depend on the kind of business you’re running and the audience you’re hoping to attract.
In the above examples, .co.uk tells your customers that you’re a UK business, which is often a good thing when trying to find a British company amidst the scores of US-based websites that dominate search rankings.
If you do decide to go global, .com is probably your best option since it’s recognised as the international domain for commerce.
If you’re a charity or other non-profit, you can best identify yourself with a .org or .org.ca, or you might wish to opt for any number of domain extensions targeted a specific trade like .plumber or.photographer.
You can buy as many domain names for your site as you like, and this is often a good idea if you want to prevent your competitors from snatching up ones that people might mistake for your website. That said, most web hosting providers will limit the kind of TLD you can chose from, usually between a .ca or .com.
What you may be pleased to know is that you can get a free domain name from each of the top five web hosting providers listed on your website.