Thanks to Gloria Rand for hosting me on my blog tour! Gloria and I met at the Atlanta Spark and Hustle conference, and I was immediately impressed with Gloria’s knowledge of search engine optimization (SEO) and her warm demeanor. I knew immediately I wanted her to host me for my blog tour. Gloria asked that I talk about domain names and reliable web hosting for small businesses, and I was thrilled to. So here we go!
I now have close to 10 domain names and websites. I’ve learned much over the years, through trial and error, about what makes a strong domain name versus a lackluster one, and what to look for in a web host. These two elements go hand-in-hand and are the foundation for any small business website.
First, what’s the difference between a domain name and a web host? The domain name is the web address for your website. Amazon.com is the domain name for the Amazon online bookstore. Your web host is the company that provides the space on their servers for your website. I recommend deciding first on a reliable web host, then using their tools to find great domain names.
For example, let’s say you are a real estate agent in a resort area in the north Georgia mountains. Many of your clients come from Atlanta and want second homes. You want to create a web site that highlights your listings, you as a realtor, and make it easy for people to find it.
What should you look for in a web hosting company?
- One that works well with the web creation software you or your developer plan to use. WordPress lists recommended hosting companies here. Not all play well together.
- Ask your colleagues who they use and would recommend. People have love/hate relationships with their web hosting providers, so you’ll have no lack of feedback here.
- 24/7 telephone support with helpful staff. Let’s face it: disasters happen. What are you going to do when you accidentally break your site (I’ve done it, thank you) or your developer leaves WRITE permissions on all of your files so that hackers can access your site (guess how I know about this one?). You need a dedicated support staff ready to help. Try them out, ask some questions and see how they treat you. Are they impatient, or do they take time with you? Do they speak in geek or in plain language?
- Daily backups of your site. If you do have a website disaster, your web host should be able to come to the rescue with a backup. Ask them how often they perform backups and what’s involved in using them.
- Easy-to-use interface. Sign up for a free trial and take a look around the web host’s own website. How easy it to find what you need? This is one of the biggest disparities I see in web hosts. I provide consulting to many small businesses and often access their web hosting accounts. Some of the hosts’ own websites are a nightmare to navigate.