If you’re like most web developers, you have spent a considerable amount of time developing your website, but how much time have you taken to consider your site’s domain name? In this tutorial, we’re going to teach you how to purchase an effective domain name and assign it to your web host.
Although your website may be up and running, selecting an effective domain name is crucial to your site, both in terms of marketing and search engine optimization. According to recent news, Google’s Caffeine search engine technology is taking site loading speed into consideration when ranking websites in search results.
A website’s domain name suffix (.com, .co.uk, etc.) is used to decipher which geographical version of Google the search results should appear in. For those sites which use a .com, .org, .net domain that is not country specific, the web server’s location is used to determine the location of the website.
A web server which is located in the United States that is hosting a website focused on UK visitors is going to take much longer to load for those UK visitors than if it were actually hosted in the UK. The location of your web host, as well as the country in which your domain is local to (i.e. .fr–France, .gf–French Guiana, .co.uk–United Kingdom, etc.) is thus important, before you even get to deciding what your domain name itself will be.
As we mentioned in our article on selecting a domain name, the task of choosing a domain name is an art among itself. You will need to do some online research on the topic or business that your site focuses on. Your chosen domain name could potentially be a keyword in a search that your site’s potential visitor would likely use to find your site. If you already have a site, you should use your site’s analytics to see what keywords your visitors are using to get to your site. Google Analyticscomes in very handy for this task.
After you have selected a good domain name, and have initially searched to ensure that it isn’t already being used, you will need to verify that the domain is actually available for you to register. You can do that using a whois search engine such as DomainTools. For instance, I looked up the domain name webdevelopersspeak.com, which could be used for a web developer discussion forum site, and found it was still available (the whois search engine returned the following results: Domain or IP Address Not Found).
So now you’ve thought of a good domain name, have verified that it is available, and are ready to register it. Where do you go to do that? A domain registrar is the place you’ll need to go. Here are some potential registrars you can use:
Fees to register domain names vary from registrar to registrar, but typically range from $6 – $15 dollars per year. To register the domain name, you will need to provide them with the domain name itself, the email address you wish to appear in the public whoisrecord, the address you wish to use for the domain registration, and the name you wish the domain to be registered under (all of which will also be shown publicly). Most registrars have the option for the registration information to be private, usually for a monthly or yearly fee.
So you’ve registered your domain name, and are ready to point it to a web host so your site will be available using your new domain. First, if you don’t already have a web host, you will need to pay for web hosting from a web hosting provider. Most domain name registrars are also web hosts, or have an affiliate program that will enable you to use their hosting services, again for an additional monthly or yearly fee.
For those of you who already have a web host, you will need to point your domain, or more precisely, your domain’s Domain Name Servers (DNS) to your web host. To do this, you will need to know the names of your web hosts DNS, which is usually found through your web host’s Administration CPanel. The DNS is actually two entries which look something like this:
To make these changes, you will need to login to your domain name registrar account, go to the page for your domain name, and find where the DNS settings are located. There is usually a place for you to make changes to your domain’s DNS settings, which will enable you to input the two new DNS settings. Once you submit your new DNS settings, they will become available within 24 hours (and most are completed with 2 hours). Your new domain name will be all set–you will have to point your domain name to a specific directory on your web host (which is also done through your host’s cPanel), and you will then be able to upload files, set up email accounts for your domain, and work on your site using your new domain.
As you can see, selecting and setting up a domain name isn’t difficult. Once you have gone through the required steps to register and set it up, you can move on to other SEO tasks which are covered in our SEO Class for Web Developers.
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