Getting your site on the Internet – Domain Names
The first thing to do to get your site on the internet is to decide on a “domain name”.
What are domain names?
Well, domain names are easy to remember addresses (for us humans) for your site on the web, for example, google.com, yahoo.com, or joesgreatestwidgets.com. You see, computers and the internet work off of IP (Internet Protocol) addresses, not words. We need words so we can easily remember how to get to a website. In between us and the internet are what is called the Domain Name System and DNS Servers. When you type in google.com your computer sends out a request to a DNS Server to find out what the IP address of google.com is so your computer can take you to the site. The DNS server responds to your computer telling it that the IP for google.com is a number which looks something like this: 126.96.36.199. It is that number which allows your browser to find and display the google.com website.
Without going into any more detail about how the internet works, here is why you need to choose a good domain name. You cannot expect people to remember the IP address of your website. You need something easy to remember, and hopefully catchy and meaningful to the business or website(s) you are creating.
Think about popular websites and their domain names and you will see why those names were chosen.
gmail.com for google mail
ymail.com for yahoo.mail
youtube.com for videos
wikipedia.com for an online encyclopedia
With your internet service provider (ISP) account, you typically get free web hosting. That is a good thing, right? Well, somewhat, after all, it is free. Typically the URL for your website on your ISP’s servers is very long and can have special characters that people just don’t like or find easy to type. They are also not easy to remember. For example, my ISP gives free web hosting to subscribers, but look at the address that needs to be typed into your browser to get to the site:
Not easy to remember, in fact I had to look it up (again) just so I could put the example in this article!
So, there are two common solutions to this problem. You can use “redirecting” (aka Web Hops, forwarding), or you can choose to purchase a domain name.
There are many sites on the internet that provide this service. There are Free Accounts and Paid Accounts. The free accounts allow you to redirect a limited number of sites and the paid accounts allow a larger number of sites as well as more choices of the domain in which your redirect will be. Free accounts require confirming by email every month or two that you are still using the redirect while paid account redirects don’t pester you as long as you keep the paid account active. One of the services I use charges $20 per year for their “Pro” account and that allows me up to 30 redirects at a time.
So by using a redirect, this
turns into this
That is quite an improvement but, wouldn’t it be even better if somebody looking for your site only had to type
Buying Domain Names:
As of right now, you can actually go to the internet and purchase the domain name “joesgreatestwidgets.com” for between $10 and $15 per year! So start thinking about possible domain names for your site; maybe your last name (as long as it’s not too common), your business name or some derivation of that, who knows. It’s totally up to your imagination.
Go to this website and start typing in your ideas for domain names:
It will not only tell you if that domain name is available, it will also offer suggestions of other domain names that are similar or that suggest the same meaning as what you typed in. Take some time doing research before you move on to buying your domain name. Choose wisely, that name will be with you for a long time (unless you want to cancel it and start over). Especially if you are setting up a business (brick and mortar or online) you really don’t want to be changing your domain name. Try to get a .com domain name. While other endings such as .us, .mobi, .org and .info are typically lower in annual cost, remember most people are accustomed to typing .com all the time. What would happen if you buy “joesgreatestwidgets.us” so you can save $6 per year, and then somebody accidentally types joesgreatestwidgets.com by mistake? What website would they go to? If you are in business, maybe they would end up on one of your competitor’s sites! No matter what, they don’t end up on your site.
So now you have the greatest domain name anybody has ever thought of, but what do you do now? You need to register it. You can do so by going to any one of many websites that takes care of all the details, for an annual fee of course. Speaking of fees, again I want to mention that there are many different endings to domain names. You have the ever popular .com, but there is also .net, .biz, .tv and many more. One site I am looking at right now has .com domain names for $9.99 per year while .us domain names are only $3.99 per year! Again – Caution! Most people are accustomed to typing .com all the time.
Now go to google.com and type “domain names” into the search bar. Then go through all the listings that come up and compare each company’s plans and prices. Remember you are only buying the domain name right now. Many of these companies also sell web hosting and many other services that we will get into later. Also watch out for dirt cheap prices for the first year that then jump considerably higher for subsequent years. Try to pick one that gives you the better of both first and future year pricing. Be sure to check out at least two or three providers so you have a good comparison to decide from. Be sure to take good notes!
You don’t want to buy your domain name quite yet!
Once you have decided upon your domain name, you will need to choose a web hosting service. Depending on your specific needs and budget you may choose to buy the Domain Name and host your Domain with the same Company. Or maybe you will decide to buy the Domain Name from one company and then go with a different company to host your Domain. You will understand this better as you do your research that is explained in the article on the Web Hosts page.