Domain Name Issues for Bloggers – Part One

domain names for bloggers part 1

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.

Resources

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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.

Genealogy Blogging Beat – Tuesday 29 July 2014

On 29 July 1958, President Eisenhower signed a bill creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Today is Tuesday 29 July 2014, and here is what’s available in terms of Daily Blogging Prompts and other related events in the genealogy blogosphere:

Items of Note

  • Today: NASA established – Anniversary and Peter Jennings’ Birthday – Anniversary.

Continue reading

Review: Crash Course in Family History – Fifth Edition

crash course family history

If you wanted to introduce a friend or family member to genealogy and hope that they “catch the bug,” you can’t do better than to hand them a copy of Crash Course in Family History, Fifth Edition by Paul Larsen. Crash Course is over 338 pages of valuable information for genealogists and family historians, whether you’ve just started your research or you’ve been doing genealogy for years.

Crash Course covers every aspect of genealogy from how to get started to what are the latest resources being used today. Crash Course is just as useful to the intermediate genealogist too since I’m sure you’ll find listed many genealogy resources that you’ve heard of before.

Highlights – Why Crash Course Works So Well

There are several reasons why I like the way Crash Course works and why I think it is a great addition to your family history library:

  • 3-Easy-Steps: right out of the gate, Larsen provides an easy-to-use chart which is actually an index to the book. We aren’t all at the same stage in our genealogy journey, so you simply find where you want to start and then go!
  • Updated Information: Larsen is right on top of the latest developments in family history especially those involving the Internet. This includes DNA testing and results interpretation, the use of social media, and technology including tablets, mobile devices and more. Best of all? Larsen “gets” the concept of genealogy blogs, explains how to use RSS feeds and Feedly and highlights the entire genealogy blogging community including GeneaBloggers.
  • Covers the Basic Foundations of Methodology: You’ve got to love a book that stresses the use of a genealogy research log, analyzing your results and citing your sources!
  • Comprehensive List of Resources: One of the best uses of Crash Course for those who’ve already started on their research is to check for research resources. These include online resource covering US and International genealogy as well as archives, library and repositories.

Functionality

I opted to receive a complimentary copy of Crash Course in Family History as a CD since I was traveling at the time and I didn’t want to pack a large book in my suitcase. Also, having PDF access to a genealogy book is better suited to my research and reading habits – so I was happy that Crash Course was available in this format.

Getting started was easy: I just took the CD from the package, popped it into my computer and opened the Greetings – READ THIS pdf. The greeting thanked me for purchasing Crash Course and also pointed out that there were two formats for the book in PDF – a large format (for larger screens) and a smaller format for mobile devices like my iPad.

I’m always impressed when I see a publisher offer a book in both print/hardcover and in electronic format. This tells me that the publisher understands and honors the different ways in which we as genealogists consume and use information.

Conclusion

As I’ve said in my previous review, I think that Crash Course in Family History is a great way for beginners to get started on their genealogy journey AND it also offers valuable tips and insights to those who’ve been doing genealogy for years. Great resources, easy-to-read format, beautiful illustrations – a complete package!

I feel so strongly about Crash Course, that it should be a required holding for every library including public libraries and genealogy society libraries. Crash Course makes a great gift (and the holidays are not far away) especially for those family members who’ve always said, “I want to do my genealogy someday!”

[Note: We previously reviewed Crash Course in Family History, Third Edition back in April 2010.]

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Crash Course in Family History – Fifth Edition is available in hardcover format via Amazon, Legacy Family Tree and the author’s website, EasyFamilyHistory.com; and as a digital download/CD via Legacy Family Tree and EasyFamilyHistory.com;

Disclosure statement: I have material connections with various vendors and organizations. To review the material connections I have in the genealogy industry, please see Disclosure Statements.

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.