When you set up your first blog, whether it is on Blogger or WordPress or any platform, you may get a “pitch” to purchase your own domain name – meaning the name in between http:// and /. Don’t make hasty decisions when it comes to domain names; while it may seem like a minor thing and a minor purchase, there’s a certain “stickiness” to some of the factors. This means you may get “stuck” more than you realize.
Never Purchase a Domain Name from Your Hosting Service
Here’s a scenario that has actually happened to me and others: you purchase your domain name from the same vendor that runs your website hosting. It was convenient, it was a good deal, and you were new to websites and domains.
Then this happens:
- You go to renew the domain name after the first year, and the renewal price is very high, sometimes five times higher than other domain registrars.
- Or your website host gets hacked and besides taking over your website, the hackers take over your domain name. Luckily, you’ve back up all your website pages and you can just do an update, right? But proving ownership of your domain name will cost you at least $300 through ICANN’s dispute process and you’ll need to submit a notarized statement explaining your ownership.
- Your website hosting services goes out of business and passes your domain name on to a new registrar.
I strongly advise you to use a different service for domain name registration (like NameCheap) and don’t take the bait from your website hosting service. Yes, there will be some extra work involved such as updating the nameservers at your domain registrar, but it is worth the long-term aggravation.
Also, one final bit of advice: if a registrar tries to renew your domain at a price you think is too high, call their customer service number. Tell them you are going to transfer the domain to another registrar. Tell them [name of competitor] is offering domain transfers for $1.00 this month (which is not a lie; some service is always offering a deal). Your registrar will do almost anything to keep you using their service.
Which Domain Names Should You Register?
If you are new to domain name registration, you may ponder which domain name to register. This meaning do you include .org or .net? Do you go for the plural of a singular name? Do you go for a version with a dash? What about spelling variations?
First, keep in mind that you can find a sale on brand new registrations, there are almost never sales on renewals. At the time of this writing, the cheapest renewals are in the range of $8 – $10 per year. Are you willing to renew several domains year after year?
Second, if you do go for variations on your main domain name, you should set the “secondary” domain names to forward to your main domain name. Example:
For geneabloggers.com, I secured geneablogger.com, genea-bloggers.com, and geneablog.com. Geneabloggers was the main domain and I set the others to automatically forward the visitors to geneabloggers.com.
My advice on multiple domain names:
- If you really think your site or blog and its brand name will be popular, secure different variations of the new domain name as long as the price is affordable.
- Don’t bother with .org, .net or .biz domains.
- After the first year, before renewing the secondary domains, check your website stats and see how many visitors you received. You may be able to give up those domains.
Changing Your Domain Name
Here is a frequent occurrence: you set up your first blog on Blogger and you just use their domain name as in mygreatgenealogyblog.blogspot.com. After a few months, you bone up on your marketing reading and realize that you really should have your own domain name in line with your “brand” which in this case is mygreatgenealogyblog.com.
But . . . . you worry about losing visitors, about losing “juice” and page ranking as they say in the SEO world (Search Engine Optimization). So what to do?
Again, here is a strategy that I’ve used and it offers flexibility depending upon your situation:
- There’s nothing wrong with staying with a blogspot.com name. Others may tell you that it doesn’t look “professional” or that it isn’t good for branding. However, there are many reputable and popular blogs that after several years decided not to take a chance on losing readers and suffer a decrease in traffic and ranking. So they stayed put.
- There’s no reason why you can’t play the URL forwarding game the other way: secure mygreatgenealogyblog.com and forward it to mygreatgenealogyblog.blogstpot.com. Then you can use the .com domain as your main brand domain.
- When I’ve decided to go with my own domain, I either used the .com domain from the start or I made the switch early on (within the first year) before I accumulated too many readers or too much traffic.
- For Blogger, I recommend NOT shutting down or deleting the Blogger site. Create a final post which lists the new domain name and asks your readers to update their bookmarks, favorites and RSS feed readers.
- You will need to do some marketing and publicize the new domain name. Don’t do this just once . . . use periodic posts for the first month until you feel comfortable with the traffic level.
Don’t Forget Subdomains
If you’re new to domain names, you may not realize that your blog or website hosting service may offer you the ability to create subdomains. For the ancestry.com domain, an example is blogs.ancestry.com.
Subdomains can be created through your hosting service; most services limit the number of subdomains to five. This may offer a better solution instead of purchasing a new domain name for a section of your blog or website.
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Next Week: domain name privacy, fowarding domain names, renewing domain names and domain name scams!
©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.