The next step in the ‘how to make a blog” series is choosing the best domain name and hosting for your blog.
There’s a lot of research you should have done before you reached this point:
- Chosen your niche
- Conducted keyword research
- Looked for affiliate and digital products you can promote
Plus you need to have thought about the subjects and content of at least 10 articles using keywords from your research.
Choosing a Search Engine-Friendly Domain Name
With domain names we start to get into the wonderful world of search engine optimization (SEO).
Your choice of domain name is very important.
Including keywords in a domain name is essential in SEO and your first choice should have a .com extension, followed by .org then .net.
For instance if your primary keyword phrase you wanted to target is “health benefits of yoga”, by far the best domain names you could choose would be healthbenefitsofyoga.com followed by healthbenefitsofyoga.org then healthbenefitsofyoga.net.
(Unfortunately .com and .org have already been taken for this keyword phrase. At the time of writing the .net version is available).
Some internet marketers shy away from the use of dashes in domain names, but you don’t have to, especially if you can keep the name short. Dashes may offer your only opportunity to get the name you want.
The only disadvantages to hyphens or dashes is if someone was to type in your URL, they may forget one or all of the dashes – but who types in domain names these days?
Indeed, dashes may be advantageous in that they make your keywords more readable by search engines, but there’s still a lot of argument about this.
To get the best domain name for your blog, we suggest you:
- Make a note of your primary keyword phrase to include in your domain name
- Choose the dot.com extension over all other choices. If .com is not available go for .org then .net.
- Make it memorable
- Keep it as short as possible (you may want to include it on business cards and printed materials)
- NEVER include a brand or registered trade mark you don’t own – that can spell disaster
- Use any domain name registrar’s site to check for availability
Buying “Used” Domain Names
If there is one domain name you just absolutely have to have but it’s already taken, you may be able to buy it.
Many people buy website names (especially exact matched domains i.e. the domain is exactly the same as the keyword phrase they are targeting) and never use them. They buy them to sell.
You may find the “site” only contains one page of ads or even a “this domain name is for sale” notice.
Some owners ask ridiculous amounts of money, while others can be reasonable. There’s no harm in asking.
Google won’t mind if you resurrect an old domain name either – just be very clear about its history. You don’t want anything that’s been attached to a porn or gambling site or one that’s had numerous registration lapses.
You can check out a domain name’s history by using The Wayback Machine available at archive.org.
You could purchase a fully-fledged blog from a site that specializes in selling “used” blogs and websites.
Flippa.com is a good place to look.
You can acquire an established blog this way, with ready-made traffic and backlinks from someone who either got bored with it or builds and sells blogs and websites for a living.
Specialist sites such as Flippa.com offer extensive help on the transfer of a blog from one host to another.
Choosing a Registrar and Host for your Domain Name
Many blog owners prefer to use one company to register the domain and a second to host the domain.
Mainly cost. It can be cheaper to use 2 different companies but for some, it adds another technical step that they don’t need. If you choose 2 different companies you have to ‘point’; your domain name to the hosting at the other company.
By far, the easiest way is to have the domain registered and hosting with the same company.
I’ve used three different such companies and I’m sticking with these. They are simple to use and they don’t try to sell you something you don’t need at every click.
Bluehost (they offer a free domain name)
Whichever company you choose, a .com name is going to cost you roughly $10, and for about $1.50 a year get the WhoIsGuard which protects your privacy, it shows the registrar’s contact information instead of yours. If you register a domain name without WhoIsGuard you could be bombarded with junk email from unscrupulous marketers indefinitely.
Basic hosting (which is normally all you need for WordPress) can cost from $4.95 per month.
Things to look for when choosing the hosting company:
- 99.99% uptime – if the company’s servers aren’t online every minute of the day, your website won’t be available to your visitors who may never return.
- C Panel – You’ll need this to build a WordPress blog
- Unlimited Hosting, Transfer & email accounts
- Excellent customer service – when I started blogging I made some major screw ups, customer service should be available via instant chat, or phone 24/7. HostGator are renowned for their excellent customer service.
If this is your first foray into making a blog, register your domain name for a year and when your blog becomes successful then you can go ahead and register for a longer term at any time.
In the next post on the series, “How to make a Blog” we shall cover the topic of “Essential Tools and Plugins”
The previous blog posts in the ‘how to make a blog’ series: