In September 2010, I started my first website.
I had no idea what I was doing, or what opportunities would open up – all I knew was that I enjoyed the Internet and writing, and that I wanted to explore this Internet rabbit hole. I didn’t care that my website looked bad; I just wanted to get in the game.
5 years later, after helping various different clients/companies with their websites and search engine marketing, I’ve learned quite a bit about websites, and how to optimize them for speed, lead generation, and sales.
Website optimization involves several different factors, but two important areas include:
- Choosing the right domain name for your website
- Choosing the right hosting provider
Whether you’re a company or an individual, this post is written to help you choose the right domain name and web hosting provider for your website. Keep reading, and ask any questions you have in the comments below; I will do my best to read and reply to them all.
First, pick THE RIGHT domain name
Think of your domain as the ‘address’ for your website on the Internet. Your domain name is what people type in the browser to get to your website:
Domain names cost an annual fee (around $10-12), and some are more expensive than others. Some tips on picking a domain name:
- .COM is King: Always use .COM when possible, as this is the most popular top level domain extension amongs humans and search engines.
- Use Keywords if Possible: Use Google’s Keyword Planner to do some keyword research, and use popular keywords in your domain if possible. This will help with search engine optimization (SEO), since one factor search engines consider (in determining rankings) is keywords in important parts of your website. Having targeted keywords in your domain name is a huge plus if you can get it!
- Own Your Name: Buy your name (or company name) .COM domain always. If you’re name is Johan Wilmith, buy johanwilmith.com (if it’s available). Even if you don’t use it as THEE domain for your website, it’s still good to own your name/company name domain, so that no one else can own it. (Once a domain is purchased, no one else can purchase that domain!)
- Don’t Make It Too Long Or Confusing: Your domain should be easy to remember, and not too long or confusing. You want people to easily remember it after hearing it once, so that they can look your website up after they hear about you. If your website domain is confusing, they won’t remember! Aim for clarity.
Not sure where to purchase a domain? I recommend Google Domains. Their pricing is good, managing domains is easy, and you don’t have to pay extra for domain privacy.
TIP: If you Google search ‘cheap domain names’ you can sometimes find domain name sales for $0.99 from companies like NameCheap, 1&1, and others. Remember, domain names cost an annual fee – they are not a one time purchase – so even if you get a domain name for $0.99 the first year, it will cost you somewhere between $10-15+ the next year.
Second, get good web hosting (and don’t get taken advantage of in the process).
My #1 recommendation for WordPress Hosting is WP Engine. My website’s speed improved by over 85% when I switched to them. Their customer support is phenomenal, they make backing up your website easy, and they are dedicated to keeping your WordPress website safe and secure from online attacks. At $29 per month, they are more expensive than other hosting packages; however, if you are serious about your website (and are in it for the long-term), I would definitely considering switching to WP Engine at some point.
My #2 recommendation for website hosting (especially if you are just beginning) is Bluehost. I recommend their ‘Starter Plan‘ if you are just beginning blogging. When you’re website starts getting hundreds of thousands of visitors, then you can upgrade to dedicated hosting.
Web Hosting For Students is great if you are a student, or just someone on a slim budget who doesn’t need a whole lot of features.
I don’t like GoDaddy anymore. I used GoDaddy for a year on some of my websites, but they since began trying to charge you for basic services that should be included in hosting packages (like domain email). With Host Gator and Bluehost, you get domain email and other basic features included.
Side note: you DON’T need to buy your domain and hosting from the same company; for example, you can buy your domain from Google Domains and your hosting from WP Engine. Just make sure that you set the nameservers for the domain to the one’s provided by your hosting company (they should provide instructions on how to do this).
I hope that helps! Leave a comment or reach out to me on Twitter which any questions you have.