What is a domain name?
A domain name is essentially your website address. This is what people type in when they they want to visit your website. So, for example, this website’s address is: ianmiddleton.co.uk
Other domain names I own are:
and so on….
What is a top level domain?
This is the “dot” part you hear everyone say. So in my case it’s .co.uk (dot co dot uk). There are literally hundreds of top level domains to choose from these days, but the main ones are still: .com .org .net and then the ones that are country specific:
.co.uk (UK) .ie (Ireland)
.fr (France) .de (Germany) etc.
Which top level domain should you buy?
That very much depends on where you are located and the nature of the website and your business. The most common one is of course .com, and more often than not it could well be already taken.
Country specific domains
If your business is carried out in a specific country, or location is important then try to get the top level domain for your country. You might need to prove your business or yourself are resident in that country.
A country specific domain is important for local SEO. If you are a local business, having a top level domain that reflects this will help your ranking with the search engines. Search engines look at this to help determine a website and business’s location.
Other top level domains
If both those are taken then the domain seller will offer you other choices like .org or .net if available. Otherwise it will offer others such as: .info or other crazy ones such as:
Be careful with these as they can sometimes be seen as spammy websites by the search engines, especially Google.
For years I had this website under ianmiddleton.info because someone else had the .co.uk I have now. But no matter how much work I put into the SEO, it was hardly showing up in Google SERPs. I did some research and learned that Google has a slight distrust of the .info domain.
I searched again for ianmiddleton.co.uk and saw it had become available so snapped it up and migrated this website over to it. Within a week my ranking shot up and so did my traffic.
So when considering one of these, do a google search to see if it’s considered spammy or not.
Grab your domain name before someone else does
As I just explained, for years I could not get the .co.uk domain for my name because someone else had it. In this case the person did actually have a website for it. However, often you will find that someone has snagged the domain name you want but is sitting on it. This is known as Domain Squatting. While many years ago it was perfectly legal, nowadays it falls into a grey area and if the name purchased is a registered trademark, company or personal name it is illegal. However, proving that the person purchased it with the intent of holding the rightful owner hostage is difficult.
Often the intent behind this is to sell the domain at a much higher price to the person desperate enough to want it. Therefore, it pays to purchase variations of the name you want to ensure this doesn’t happen.
Get variations of your top level domain
So for example, if you want to buy a .co.uk domain name and you see the .com is also available, snap that up too and then redirect it to the .co.uk domain. This will prevent anyone else stealing it and trying to hold you ransom. .com is the most commonly known top level domain, so often people may know your business name and just type in yourname.com on the off chance of finding it. If someone is squatting on your domain they will get sent to a page that not only offers to sell it, but also contains lots of spammy links to similar services.
What is web hosting?
Now you have the address for your website, you need a home for it to live in. Web hosting is essentially that, the space where your website resides.
Compare it to your computer. You have folders where you keep your photos and other important files and you visit that folder when you want to look at them.
The same goes for your website, it needs to be held in a folder on a computer somewhere.
Your website files need to be accessible by everyone
Unlike your computer where only you have access to the files, your website needs to be connected to the Internet so everyone can see it.
You can, technically, host your website on your own computer, but your computer is not accessible by everyone on the Internet.
Therefore you need to purchase space on a computer that is connected to the Internet, called a web server. This is provided by a web hosting company.
10 great places to get a domain name and web hosting
No need to get your domain and hosting in the same place
Here is a list of places where you can purchase both your domain name and web hosting. It’s not necessary to actually buy both in the same place. You could, by all rights, buy your domain name from one company and the hosting from another. Why would you do this? Well, it could be that one company is offering a deal on domains while another company has a better deal on the hosting. Therefore you can search around and get the cheapest domain and then the cheapest hosting from different companies.
You just need to point your domain to the place where your website will be hosted. Your web hosting company or web designer can help you do that.
Move web hosting companies to get better deals
Just like with car insurance and other such services, it’s often good to move web hosting companies over time to take advantage of introductory deals. Once your introductory deal is over the price, in some cases, can go up a lot. So this is the time to search out new deals and move. Again, it is easy to move your website to a new hosting provider.
Below is a list of 10 great domain name and hosting companies, most of which offer introductory deals, or where possible I have been able to get you a discount via my affiliate partnership.
This list ISN’T sorted from best to worst, but the first is the one I currently use for hosting all my websites, and others I also have domain names with and have used in the past. Alternatively, my website clients are also using them.
I moved to A2 from Just Host. Now I wasn’t unhappy with Just Host, but like I said above, I took advantage of their introductory deal to buy 3 years in advance and get a massive discount. Since moving I have found their service to be impeccable. I currently use the Turbo Shared Hosting option and my website uptime is almost 100%
What I like about A2, which others also offer, is that they perform daily backups and always keep the last 7 backups. So should something ever cause your site to crash, it gets hacked or you mess something up, you can easily do a server rewind and restore your site to the last time it was working! You can go back up to seven days.
Siteground is a great option which offers a variety of domain and web hosting technologies. Their hosting is run on Google Cloud, which guarantees premium availability and reliability and one of the fastest networks out there.
You can also take advantage of their powerful caching and security technologies to ensure a faster and secure website. Speed and security are important ranking factors when it comes to SEO.
As mentioned above, I used to host my websites here. They offered a great introductory deal at the time, and still do. I remained with them for many years and always found their service to be excellent and, more importantly, their technical helpline was always available and problems were solved quickly.
I still have a lot of my domains here, and regularly check and compare prices and purchase here if cheaper.
Some of my clients have domains and hosting here, so I can see that their service is also great. The websites are consistently up and I have never seen any problems.
As the name suggests, they have a number of great deals on both domains and hosting.
Hostgator offers a number of website hosting options, offer a 99.9% uptime guarantee, free SSL certificate, easy WordPress installs, and a free domain for a year when you sign up for a 1, 2 or 3 year hosting plan.
This is a British hosting and domain provider, so it is ideal for UK based businesses. They have been around pretty much since the dawn of the Internet. I used to be with them in the early days. Although they are now owned by GoDaddy. 123 Reg is the UK’s largest accredited domain registrar and provides Internet services to small- and medium-sized business.
Hostinger offers some great deals on both web hosting and WordPress hosting, especially if you take out 2,3 or 4 years in advance. They also offer the best deal on a dedicated IP and resources instead of shared hosting.
Names UK is operates in the UK, so if you are looking for a UK-based domain and hosting provider, this is a great option. They are also currently offering free .co.uk .uk and .org.uk domains for the first year.
Although Squarespace is not a domain name and hosting provider in itself, you can purchase your domain with them when you sign up to their service. Squarespace is an easy website builder service that is really simple for anyone to use. Everything is hosted there on Squarespace and you don’t have to worry about setting up and managing the technical aspects of your website, Squarespace will take care of all that, including all software updates. You can easily design and build your website using their simple drag and drop builder and templates.