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:
Part One: How To Make A Blog: Getting Your Niche Right Is Crucial
Part Two: How To Make A Blog: Finding The Best Keywords For Your Chosen Niche
Part Three: How To Make A Blog: Monetizing with Affiliate Products
Part Four: How To Make A Blog: Monetizing with Digital Products
Dear Andrew –
This is an extraordinary series. It should be your next book.
Wish I had read this one 5 years ago. My domain name is too long.
Annoys me everytime I have to type it.
Looking back and what I know now I don’t think I would have gone with my domain name.
But…after all this time…it is our brand.
And these days not many people type in the domain name.
You give so much amazing valuable content my friend Andrew….
Great points given and I thank you!
You’re the best!
I appreciate your kind words!
I am so enjoying the refresher on setting up a blog. It makes me feel like I have learned more than I realzed. (Thanks to you)
This is such valuable information even if you already have a site.
Thank you Andrew and thanks for the help earlier. You made my day much easier.
Blessing always to you,
And you are welcome.
Great Article. Thanks by mistake i didnt concern this tips before buying my domain but now its clear cut. Thanks for sharing.
I just spoke with my brother, and his wife started this process without speaking to me. Needless to say she spent way too much and got little for it. I was going to type her something up, but now I’m just sending her to you!
Great and thanks, Mark.
I hope she benefits frmo the post.
I think choosing a domain name is super important. Sadly, I didn’t learn much about SEO before I chose mine, or else I would have put keywords in my domain name. If you haven’t chosen your domain name, definitely think about SEO first.
When I first started I didn’t know that either (SSSSHHHH…don’t tell anyone!).
But a few years later I am more than happy with my domain name…I like to think of it as a brand now.
I used free online tools like Namestation, Wordoid to generate domain names.
and in hosting hostgator is best ever.
Choosing the right domain and hosting for our blog is very important. Our blog won’t exist without web hosting, because our online presence depends on their uptime, and on the way they maintain their servers for their clients. This is actually a lot better than creating a free blog on Blogger, because it builds your own brand and gives more friendly exposure.
I totally agree about everything you say and your point about the ‘brand’ is spot on.
A really great domain name would be one which sounds good and contains the focus keyword. A great name can be obtained from wordoid. Hosting does not matter so much.
Hosting does not matter!
Are you crazy?
Hosting is so important to get right. It needs to be reliable, secure and the company have to provide excellent customer service.
Great tips, Andrew! This whole “How to make a blog” is great! I deifinitely must read it from the very begining)
I hope you do read and like it,
All the best,
Getting a good domain name and a hosting service is the number one point of a successful website. If the down time is more your website will become nothing but just another website. But hosting is the most important because the severs should not be down at all.
Your post is great and even I also learnt a lot from it. Thanks for sharing such important info with blogsphere. Keep up the good work.
You are right. Hosting is so important and you should sign up with a company that specialist in hosting.
yeah, at the moment I am using a free host, but I am not satisfied with it. Because it is slow and the down time is more. Most probable I’ll move to a new host as you mentioned above. Most probably it will be Host gator.
It’s free for a reason!
Your visitors will NOT be returning if your site is slow or down.
I usually look up for domain names manually and in case I cannot find a good suggestion, I make use of sites like Wordoid or others which generate domain names automatically! They are always my second choices. They do suggest good domain names, but sometimes give useless suggestions!
Thanks for sharing your apparoch. Not heard of Wordoid before…I shall check them out.
It’s the speed of the service and the reliability (uptime) that is most important to make a good impression on search engines and users alike. I’ve read a research (I wish I would bookmark all these!) that says that 50% of the visitors to a site will leave it, if they find out it takes over 5 seconds to load. Quite shocking in a way but expected in another. I am trying a new host right now and I am pretty satisfied with it.
Remind us who your new hosting is with.
I’m currently with Hostgator and all is well.
I am still testing out the waters with my new host. I definitely have nothing to complain where speed is concerned. It’s 1.5-3.0s from most browsers around the world which is comparable to a dedicated server. Again I am a techie so my site is fully optimized for best performance. Price is fair considering the quality($11). Affiliate marketing I have yet to evaluate and it’s important for me because selling hosting is my job and I want to recommend only the one I use and I can vouch for. Reliability and uptime I have yet to test. Everything looks fine but I want to perform proper tests with pingdom. I can’t start the tests now because their Dallas server is still loading the website from my old server. It’s been almost three days and they have not yet cleared their DNS cache! Once I am sure that the host is OK, I will definitely come up with a review. The great thing is you can go for a test drive to check out all this stuff without paying anything or even providing a credit card. The thing is: why is this host not as popular as it should be? I am the kind of guy who is always looking for a catch when he sees a deal that sounds too good to be true. So far I found one 99% of the time. I will let you know how it goes…
I am very much looking forward to seeing your outcome.