Domain Names – a Blogger’s Guide
A lot of new bloggers gravitate to free blogging services, because they just want to write without worrying about the technical side of things. That’s fine for some people, but you truly need to acquire your own domain name and hosting if you want to take your blog to the next level. If you start off with a good domain name, you won’t need to worry about transferring all of your old content and risk losing your readership and/or search engine rankings when you move your site. Domains may seem complex, but the process of registering and using them is relatively straightforward.
What is a Domain Name?
Every website on the Internet has an Internet Protocol (IP) address, which is a unique string of numbers. That string of numbers is how other computers are able to locate the site on the Internet. Since it’s difficult for people to remember those numbers, the domain name system (DNS) is basically a phone book for the Internet. Whenever you type a website address, or domain, into your web browser, it contacts a DNS server to locate the proper website.
Years ago when the domain name system was introduced, only a few top level domains (TLDs) were available. The main TLDs available to the general public included .com, .net, and .org, and those TLDs are still the most sought after. These are seen as generic TLDs, because they aren’t associated with any country or government entity.
In addition to the original TLDs, a number of country code TLDs (ccTLDs) were created. Some examples of ccTLDs include .ca for Canada and .uk for the United Kingdom. Some ccTLDs can be registered by anyone, and they have been marketed as alternatives to the generic TLDs. Some examples include .ws for Western Samoa, .co for Colombia, and .tv for Tuvala. Other ccTLDs, such as .us, are restricted to citizens and business entities that operate in those countries.
Due to the incredible demand for domain names, a number of other generic TLDs have also been created. Some examples of relatively new generic TLDs include .info for informational sites, .biz for commercial sites, and .name for personal sites. There are no restrictions on these TLDs, so you can actually use a .info, .biz, or .name domain for whatever purpose you like.
The easiest way to buy a domain for your new blog is to go through a registrar. These companies are accredited by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which allows them to provide domain registration services.
If you’d like to acquire a brand new domain for your blog, you need to visit the website of a registrar and search for the domain name of your choice. The registrar will then determine if the domain is available. If the domain isn’t currently registered, you can provide the registrar with contact information and pay a registration fee. That will allow you to use the domain as a home for your blog for the duration of the registration period (domains can be registered for a maximum for 10 years).
The Domain Aftermarket
The other way to acquire a domain is to go through the aftermarket. This process can use an auction format, but you can also purchase existing domains directly from resellers. Aftermarket domains are usually more expensive than new domains, but they can provide numerous benefits. The biggest benefit is pre-existing traffic, which can provide your new blog with a built-in audience. However, not every domain has pre-existing or type-in traffic, which means you need to do some research before you buy one.
Why Bloggers Need Domains
After digesting the above information, you may wonder why you even need a domain. The biggest reason to acquire a great domain name is that it can help you create an identity on the Internet. Your domain will serve as your address on the Internet, and a customized domain provides a lot more authority than a subdomain of a free blog hosting service. You’ll also have complete control of your blog if you acquire a domain and pay for your own hosting.
Traffic is the other primary benefit of buying a domain for your blog. Most of your traffic will come from search engines and links to your site (referred to as backlinks), but you shouldn’t discount the possibility of type-in traffic. This type of traffic occurs whenever someone types a domain directly into their web browser. If you select a domain that consists of keywords that people are likely to type into their browsers, you may be able to capture some valuable type-in traffic.
Also, if you acquire an aged domain, you may reap the benefits of pre-existing traffic. This type of traffic occurs whenever someone tries to visit the website that once used your domain. Some people may have the old website bookmarked, and others will arrive from old links that still point to the domain. If you can capture this traffic and engage it with the content of your new blog, you’ll have a built-in audience from the moment you start blogging.
Seize Your Identity on the Web!
This process may seem a little complicated, but you may be surprised at how easy it actually is. If you’re feeling overwhelmed at all the talk of auctions, traffic, and backlinks, then you can start off slow with a brand new domain. The process of registering a domain can be accomplished in just a few short minutes, and some web hosts will even provide you with a free domain (discussed in Step 2: Web Hosting). That small amount of effort will pay dividends, because you’ll be able to start building the unique identity of your new blog on the Internet.