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Choosing Good Domain Names and Web Host
A Domain name is the unique name of a website, just like sitecritic.net. There are many registrars around and the cost to register a new domain name can range anywhere from 4 to 30 USD per year. Domain name Registration and Web hosting is a different thing. You can register your domain name from company A and host it in company B. In simple terms, a domain name service provider stores your domain name and points it to the web host which stores all your web pages.
Choosing A Good Domain Name
Choosing a domain name is a serious business. A good domain name is easy to remember and contains the keyword that you want. You can choose to buy a new domain name or an expired one. Some expired domain names are well established and worth buying (They have many websites linking to it and possibly a good Google PR). You can find many websites selling expired domains by googling "expired domain name".
If you buy a new domain name, basically you start everything from scratch. Google tends to prevent new websites from appearing in its search engine for a few months or even longer. You have to build up your reputation in the web, get people to link to you and so on (Getting good inbound links is the key to search engine optimisation). However, having said that, building a successful website from scratch often gives you great sense of satisfaction. You do not have to worry about the history of the website, anything about the previous owner and the transfer procedures. There are cheaters around, so you have to becareful.
After reading the keyword selection guide, you should have a better understanding of how to select keywords. The same rule applies for domain names. If you want to create a website teaching people "how to design a web page", ideally, your url should be something like this: "how-to-design-a-web-page.com". Noticed that I put a dash "-" to separate the keywords. Though longer to type, the url will be stronger than a url like this "howtodesignawebsitepage.com". The later url is shorter but harder for the search engines to decipher. However, it is known that search engines are able to decode the urls and extract the keywords. We personally do not like to use the "dash" because it makes the url looks unprofessional. Therefore, short and clean urls with easy to understand terms are good. Google, Yahoo and MSN have no problems with sitecritic.net.
There are other things that you might also consider when choosing domain names. Factors such as company's prestige and whether the url is easy to remember are important as well. Take the previous url "how-to-design-a-web-page" case for example, we could also take the first letter of each keyword and call it htdawp.com. In this case, the url becomes totally meaningless. If my company is already quite popular, I dont need to stuff keywords in my url because it will make my company look unprofessional. Take BMW for example, they just need to register for bmw.com instead of something like prestigecars.com.
Does the extension matters?
Yes, it matters alot. Whether you choose a .com (general), com.au (Australia), or a .co.uk (United Kingdom)...etc depends alot on the location of the audience you are targeting. If you own a web design firm in UK and your domain is a .com and hosted in US, it is harder for people in UK to find you because search engines know where people are searching from and tends to give priority to websites that are hosted in their location. This is call this geo-targeting. In short, a well optimised .com.au website can rank well both in google.com (Google General) and google.com.au (Google Australia). A .com website may loose out to a .com.au website in google.com.au. Furthermore, many companies bought large number of good .com, .net ...etc doman names in order to sell them at a higher price - which makes it hard for you to get a good domain name. Though a country specific domain name can be more expensive, you often get better chances to choose a good domain name.
Depending on your budget, a .info, .biz or some funny extensions might be cheaper to register but harder to remember. A .com, .net or .org domain name seems to be more popular and easily remembered. If you are targeting at the international level or in United States and do not want to spend alot, go for .com, .net .org, .biz, .us or .info.
What To Look For In A Good Host
With strong competition in the web hosting industry, most web host will provide many features at an affordable price. With price ranging from 5 to 10 dollars a month, you can get a decent host for your website. To us, the most important thing is uptime and support. You don't want your email or server to be down. You want someone who knows their stuff when you have questions. Unless your website requires special needs, the features provided by most hosting companies are good enough.
Instead of registering a domain name with company A and buying a hosting plan with company B, we recommend you to do both at the same time with the same company. Many hosting providers provide hosting packages that includes domain registration and web hosting. By doing that, you let them do all the backend work and save yourself some trouble of configuring the Domain Name Servers. You combine the bills as well and have lesser things to remember.
Which hosting and domain registration company to go for? Most of us would recommend bluehost - http://www.bluehost.com/track/sitecrit/. They are not the cheapest around but their support is definitely the best. Their engineers are all in-housed (your problems get fixed up really quickly) and they know their work very well.
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