How To Register A Domain

When you start up your online business one of the first things you’ll need to do is purchase a domain name and register it.

It would be virtually impossible to take a business online without having at least one domain name, but it is NOT expensive, costing just a few pounds / dollars a year.

What Is A Domain Name

The purpose of domain names is to provide easily recognizable and memorable names to point to Internet resources that would otherwise have to be numerically addressed. So a domain name is a more memorable way of addressing (labelling) your website, and also allows your website to be easily moved to (hosted at) a different physical location.

From a layperson’s point of view, the purpose of a domain name is to give a memorable name to your website, and a way to brand yourself on the Internet. It gives the reader some idea of what to expect from the site.

Here are some examples:

  • SystemicsLtd.com is the name of our company
  • VirginMedia.com – probably needs no introduction
  • BBC.co.uk – likewise, or CNN.com
  • PizzaExpress.com

Registering your domain name marks ownership of the resource/label, and there are several good reasons for registering your own domain name, especially if you are promoting affiliate products:

  • If you are promoting affiliate products, your own domain name looks more professional than an affiliate link
  • When your customer is typing the domain name into their browser, they are less likely to make mistakes with a meaningful domain name than with a complicated affiliate link
  • Some people may even omit your affiliate ID, either intentionally or unintentionally, depriving you of your affiliate commission
  • Many free advertising resources – for instance ezine articles – won’t let you use a direct affiliate link
  • A well chosen domain name may help you to be found in the search engines. This was once a “given” but with recent Google updates this is not so certain now.
  • Having a domain name also allows your website to be easily moved to (hosted at) a different physical location.

Choosing a Domain Name

The idea of the domain name is that when someone sees the name of your website, they know what to expect, either the company name or the service that will be provided.

As the online world turns more in favour of branding yourself, the first domain you should try to register is your own name. My personal site – as you will see – is JoyHealey.com. If you’re not quick enough to grab your own name, you can add a variation – perhaps your initials, or a suffix such as Online, etc.

As your online “empire” expands you may decide you need more than one – for instance a painter may choose to have JoeThePainterHarrow.com,  JoeThePainterWatford.com as he opens branches in different areas.

Having chosen your domain name, you will need to register your ownership. This may be for as little as one or two years, but when registering your own company or personal domain you’ll probably want to register for as long as possible so that you can take advantage of discounts for a longer registration period. Also to protect it from being lost to someone else.

How To Register A Domain

Your first step is to choose the company at which you will register your domain name. There are many companies where you can register a domain, and as your online “empire” expands you may have more than one domain.

When you acquire second and subsequent domains, I suggest keeping them all  registered with the same company for simplicity.

Some will say you shouldn’t have all your eggs in one basket, but I’ve chosen a large company that’s likely to be “here” longer than I am!

I use GoDaddy, because:

  • It was the one that I was first recommended to use by someone whose opinion I valued and who had had good service from them
  • Their customer service is great, including understanding that not everyone is expert on domains, hosting etc!
  • The pricing is very reasonable
  • They remind you of your domain renewals in plenty of time
  • They offer regular and generous discount coupons
  • Many popular training programs base their instructional videos and manuals round the GoDaddy service

You will need to register an account with them, then use the search box in your chosen company to check if your chosen domain name is free then register it.

godaddy-searchOne slight downside is that they get VERY tempting in their “add-on” offers once you have bought your basic domain. Unless you know exactly what you’re buying and how you plan to use it, I advise you to resist these to start with. You can add them later.

I got carried away when I first started registering domains and spent far more than I had intended to. Yes, it can be good to have both the .com and the .info domain suffix, but you may prefer to wait until the profits are coming in!

So those are the basics to consider when you decide to purchase a domain name. I hope you found that helpful.

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Hosting Your Website

Having registered your domain name (as we saw in my earlier post), it’s necessary to think about where to host it.

Hosting, in layperson’s terms, means where your website will “live”.

My first reaction to hosting was – “Well, I have a PC, it can live on that!”

NO!! Your PC wouldn’t be nearly powerful enough to host a website that catered for any serious volume of customers – and you probably wouldn’t want to keep your PC on day and night in case someone wanted to browse for your service in the middle of the night, or from a different country if appropriate.

Choosing a web-host is not a decision to be taken lightly. Contact Us to discuss your needs, because that’s the only way we can make the right decision.

The service I use myself (after many false starts) is recommended at the right-hand side.

But if you (think you) can’t afford that, I have other options. And I’d be happy to discuss with you why I pay for the quality service I am now using.

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Why Build A Contact List?

GetResponse200x200Although you will probably think of your website as a way to tell customers about your service, another vital function it serves is to capture the names and email addresses of visitors to your site so that you can build a contact list and keep them informed of developments in your company.

It’s very rare that a prospective client will buy your service the first time they visit your site. It’s said that it can take as many as 7 contacts from you before a customer is comfortable enough to buy from you.

There are many reasons why they may not buy on that first visit:

  • They’re not yet in “buy” mode, they’re “just looking”
  • They’ve mis-placed their credit card
  • The computer crashes at the wrong time
  • The kids want to get on Facebook
  • It’s meal time!

None of them are your fault –  your prospect just isn’t yet ready to become a client.

Don’t let these prospects slips away and end up buying on someone else’s site. Do everything you can to capture their contact details so that you can send them more information and updates about new information.

E-mail marketing puzzleOr, perhaps they HAVE already bought from you. You will want them to buy again. If you have special offers or events, keep them informed by sending a regular newsletter. Assuming you did a good job the first time you provided a service, it’s far easier to sell something new to an existing customer than to find and cultivate a new one.

For this reason, most businesses say their customer list is their most valuable asset, and should be guarded jealously.

Many people do not take this essential step of building a client and/or prospect list, purely because they haven’t appreciated how important it is.

When I took my first website online, it sat on page 1 of Google, quite near the top, so had plenty of visitors, but I never captured their email addresses so if they didn’t buy there and then, chances are they bought from a competitor.

How Do You Build A Contact List?

The tool you will need to use to capture email addresses is an Auto-Responder.

I have tried several auto-responder services and been less than pleased with them for my own site – for various technical reasons.

So, to recommend a service to my own clients, who trust me to recommend the best, I must come back to the GetResponse. I actually left it once for another (good) service that many feel is the best auto-responder for small businesses – but I missed several of GetResponse’s features and moved back (which is a real hassle, but well worth it).

It’s not the cheapest – but your business deserves the best. Remember, you get what you pay for.

To learn more about GetResponse click here – with that link you can get a free trial.

Features You Need In Your Auto-responder

  • Fast, reliable email deliverability – MOST important of all
  • Personalise your emails
  • Professional forms to choose from
  • Create unlimited campaigns
  • Ability to send single messages
  • Ability to send messages timed to arrive when they’re most likely to be read
  • Subscriber filtering and searching
  • Unsubscribe function to comply with anti-spam regulations and keep your emails legal
  • Advanced click tracking and reporting
  • Daily activity reports
  • Correct, compliant handling of bounced emails
  • Send in HTML or Plain text
  • Easy to use editor

Don’t worry if you don’t know what they mean at the moment. Just trust me that you WILL need them as your website handles more and more of your business.

Don’t settle for second best. Take a free trial of GetResponse here.

PS Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can leave this until your on-line presence is “bigger”. I did that and it cost me dearly.

Build firm email marketing foundations from the start.

Set Your Name Servers

When you have registered a domain name, you need to ensure that it points to the Internet server where your website is hosted (“lives”).

I register my domains with GoDaddy as I described in an earlier post.

If we are providing you with a done-for-you service then you do not need this post as this step will have happened automatically for you, but otherwise you may need to change your nameservers. (For instance, if you have an existing domain that you want to transfer to us to take advantage of the the additional services we offer.)

What Are Name Servers?

In case this is a new term to you, nameservers map the human-friendly domain name (for instance SystemicLtd.com) to the physical IP / Internet Protocol address (unique internet address) where your domain is stored. This is done using Domain Name Servers (DNS).

You don’t actually need to understand the process, but if you want to, I can explain DNS by quoting from an excellent site HowStuffWorks:

DNS is a protocol within the set of standards for how computers exchange data on the Internet and on many private networks, known as the TCP/IP protocol suite. Its basic job is to turn a user-friendly domain name like “howstuffworks.com” into an Internet Protocol (IP) address like 70.42.251.42 that computers use to identify each other on the network.

How To Change Name Servers

So (to carry on with my previous example) you may have registered your domain name with GoDaddy, but be hosting it at “Another Company”. In that case you need to tell GoDaddy to point your domain name to Another’s servers, where the files making up your website are being hosted (stored). This is a one-off job, so don’t worry! If you get stuck there are tutorial videos in GoDaddy and they also have a very helpful support desk.

All you need to do is login to your domain registrar account and from within your account, launch the domain management section. Select the domain name you want to change and you will see information such as this.

gvo-name-serversSelect the drop down option to “Set Nameservers” and change them to the Nameservers given to you when you signed up for your hosting account. The nameservers in the example above will differ from your nameservers.

When you have made the change, you need to allow a certain length of time for the new settings to be propagated round the Internet. The time needed is unpredictable and out of your control. It can be fast, or it may take as long as 48 hours. After a suitable time you should find that you can access your new site from the human-friendly name. To be safe, wait the full 48 hours before promoting your domain name!

If it hasn’t happened as quickly as you hoped for, wait the full 48 hours before you raise a support ticket or resubmit the change. In the former case you’ll just be reminded you haven’t waited long enough. In the latter case, you’ll probably restart the whole “wait” time again.

This is all “stuff” I didn’t know when I first started out online, but everyone assumed I knew all about it and treated it as something I could do in 5 minutes. It wasn’t! Apologies if this is old-hat to some readers. Hopefully it will be helpful to newer people.