A lot of the tips and advice you get today about registering domains and choosing web hosts is based on outdated information. The reality is that there are fewer and fewer “good” domains to choose from in the US. If you want a .com or .org (really the only viable choices unless you’re a .edu), then the pickings are slim. Worse, even if you score a great domain name—sometimes at a very high cost—it takes much longer than it used to in order to actually establish an authority site. Blame search engine optimization, the competition, or the tug of war between brick and mortar and virtual representation if you like. No matter what, getting a domain is just the start of the battle.
IT enterprisers know this reality all too well, and they have a few strategies up their sleeve. They know that marrying quality domain names with quality web hosting results in high traffic even if a website is brand new. For starters, they flex their creativity with generic top level domain names (TLDs). Back in the day, a good TLD was critical for getting attention—but now all those short and sweet TLDs are spoken for. This means you have to pony up cash for the best domain names, but what if you don’t have that kind of budget?
Making the Unremarkable Remarkable
Domain names are kind of like dating. Yes, there’s a good chance all the uber wealthy Ivy League doctors who volunteer at Doctors Beyond Borders because they don’t need the money while modeling on the side are taken (or they’re also holding out for someone on their level). That doesn’t mean there are diamonds in the rough—or even better “matches” for you. Going with a Generic Top Level Domain (GTLD) is a necessity for many website owners. Plus, it allows for creativity.
Think of out of the box options like shop.aholic or yoga.master for your website. There are no rules that only certain “dot whatevers” are up for grabs. In fact, you can vastly improve your search ranking with the right GTLD since (surprise!) nobody else is going to have anywhere near that same domain. This is fantastic for niche industries like an ice cream shop with a domain like sweet.treat. SEO rankings for “sweet treat” might just favor your site.
It also leads to better visibility and branding overall. According to Annalisa Roger, the author of Branding the New gTLDs: The Next Marketing Frontier, these domains are cheap, powerful and “give relevancy to the registrant within the market sector, and are desirable to a new generation of Internet users.”
What about Web Hosting?
Web hosting is the other half of building a website from scratch. Without a host that regularly updates features, has fantastic uptime and unbeatable customer service, you’re not going to succeed. Plus, there are plenty of web hosts out there for all budgets, so you shouldn’t be settling. While some hosts may make you feel this way, remember that you’re not only paying for space. You’re also paying for reliability, uptime and any other services they may (should!) offer.
Go for a host that promises forward-thinking tactics designed for new sites, or for one that offers a quick start site builder if that’s what you need. A site that’s created quickly, well and with visible bases is critical. Why spend money on a site that nobody will find?
While the exact features a web host offers will depend on your needs, some of the most common include SSL certification, SEO services, no disk space limit and site builder capabilities. Your host should optimize your site’s visibility from the start, and the services should be ever-changing and updated in order to keep pace with the digital world’s shifting ecosystem.
Too Close for Comfort?
One of the biggest website killers is simply getting too comfortable. People don’t shop for new hosts because it seems like a lot of work. Websites themselves get stagnant and outdated. A good website has relevant content, is interactive and has all the right features. If you can, hire a pro to update content and create new content such as blogs. This is how you become an authority and keep up with SEO shifts.
Most importantly, make sure you have the best technology and support on your site. Without a host with the most, you have the odds stacked against you.