So you want to build a website. Great! Where do you start?
Let’s Buy a Domain Name
Before you start building your website, you need to pick a domain name for it. This is how people will find you on the web. Not only will your domain name be what people type into their browsers to find your site, it’s also important for your site’s SEO presence.
You have two choices to focus on when you pick your domain name:
- Pick a domain name with a branding focus
- Pick a domain name with an SEO keyword focus
The difference is pretty simple to understand here. Let’s say you’re starting a business called “Furry Friends” that’s a pet grooming supply store. You can either choose to pick a domain name that you can market with a branding focus (i.e. “FurryFriends.com”), or you can pick a domain name that will aid in your SEO efforts (i.e. “PetGroomingSupplies.com”).
My personal opinion is that you should only go the “keyword domain” route if it’s going to be an affiliate business. That means I’d only choose “PetGroomingSupplies.com” if I were planning to run the website only to market Amazon pet grooming supplies. However, if I were to open my own store, selling my own products, I’d choose “FurryFriends.com”.
Buy the Domain Name
To purchase your domain, head on over to Namecheap. I have bought domains from GoDaddy in the past, and I’m done with that headache. They supported SOPA and PIPA, their customer service is mediocre, and their products get hacked CONSTANTLY.
Namecheap has affordable (~$9/year) domains, cheap SSL ($1.99/year), and free Private Whois registration with domain purchase. Don’t worry, we’ll discuss these momentarily.
Type your domain into the Namecheap search box, and make sure the domain is available. If it is, add it to your cart.
It’ll be fine to leave the free WhoIs Guard selected, and leave the defaults at one year.
What About the Extras?
If you decide to purchase somewhere other than Namecheap (why aren’t you using Namecheap??), be sure to add Whois Guard to your purchase. This makes it impossible for curious onlookers to find your personal contact information when they do a Whois Lookup on your domain name.
But what about the other extras?
I only suggest purchasing SSL (encased in red above), as long as it’s around $10/year. GoDaddy charges something ridiculous like $60/year. The only reason you’d need a more expensive SSL certificate is if you want to get one with insurance on it, so that your buyers are secured against identity theft, etc. If you’re running a small operation, you just don’t need this.
What About Email?
I really don’t suggest using an email account with your domain registrar (in this case, Namecheap). Although this is a topic for another post, if you’re going to set up email for your domain, I suggest Google Apps. I pay a little under $5/month for each domain that I have personal email set up on (caseyfriday.com and friday-next.com).
I tried to set up my own email server on my Linode, and boy oh boy was it a nightmare. Just pay the $5 to Google each month, and have the power of the Goog behind your email. It’s so much easier to connect your mail client, iPhone, and Android to – and they do all the mail server stuff that even a geek like me doesn’t want to deal with.
Should I Buy Hosting at My Domain Registrar?
Personally, I think that great companies are really good at their main focus. When it comes to domains, Namecheap is great at managing them and handing out fantastic deals on SSL. Their customer service is also top notch. That said, I would not purchase hosting from a Domain company.
Leave your hosting purchase for a hosting company that’s really good at hosting. The next installment in this series will cover just that – how to purchase and set up hosting for your website.
What About Setup?
Not so fast! Stay tuned for the next article about how to purchase and set up hosting, and once you’ve gotten your hosting set up, we’ll go over how to connect your domain to your hosting account.