Tune Up Your Digital Marketing: Your Website Bootcamp

Website Jump Start 1: Getting Started Right

Learning Objective: To choose the most powerful domain name for your business and secure it.

Congratulations on making the decision to set up your own powerful, lead-generating, client-retaining, relationship building website. The tech and design parts? You can absolutely do these yourself—and what’s more, when you’re finished, it will not only give you a working WordPress website, people will think you hired a professional web designer—and you’ll attract the right visitors.

 

Step One: Securing Your Domain

You know what a domain name is: The address in your URL bar that tells you where a website lives.  Or, as one student explained it, “anything with ‘http’ in front of it and ‘.com’ after it”.

Does it have to be a .com address? That is certainly the most desirable extension to own, since it is treated by Google as the most important—but there are times you may have to select a different extension, and we’ll address those instances in a moment.

Your domain name can be a tremendous traffic tool for your website, helping boost you to instant/top visibility. And, to answer a question often asked, it’s best if you choose either a domain that is your exact name, as coach Leonie Dawson does here…

…or the name of your signature method, process, product or program. (Example: Coach Denise Duffield-Thomas’ highly-memorable LuckyBitch.com.)

And even if you are planning to use the name of your signature system as your domain name, secure your own name anyway in a .com domain. This ensures no one else with that exact name secures it later on.

If you don’t secure your own name as a .com domain, another person with the same name as you may purchase that name—which may inadvertently divert all searches meant for you to that other person’s Google search listings instead.

 

What if your-name-dot-com is already taken?

There are really only two or three choices. Forget securing your name with a .org extension (which used to be a popular alternative)—that will no longer keep you in the same league as a .com extension. It’s better if you use a really simple but easily memorable extension instead, like ‘.online’ (e.g. “marywalker.online”) or your country extension (e.g. “marywalker.us, marywalker.ca, marywalker.au, and so forth).

And it is better to use a relevant extension (like .coach or .online) than playing with your actual name (i.e.: sticking hyphens between your first and last name; throwing in your middle initials or abbreviating your first name—especially when you don’t normally do so—and so forth.)

And, contrary to what you might be thinking, Google doesn’t penalize new, custom extensions.

You have to think like the person who will be searching for you: They are far more likely to type in “Wendy Smith business” then enter “Wen-j-smith business”.

To recap, when creating your name, make sure you check off these five factors:

  • Secure a .com domain whenever possible
  • Choose either your first-and-last name as your domain name (if you are branding yourself) or your signature program, product or system
  • Secure the .com domain in your own first-and-last name if it is still available (even if you are branding a signature program and—right now—never plan to use it)
  • If the .com version of your domain name you want is gone, try ‘.online’ or your country extension
  • Keep your domain name simple, memorable and obvious.

Remember that if someone else holds the .com version of your domain name, you run a real risk of having your traffic stream to their results anyway. Be creative to find workarounds—but always focus on probable search keywords leading to the end result you want (qualified traffic) rather than on creating clever word variations on your desired domain name.

Step two: choosing the right web hosting service

Your clients want the best—and so should you: Especially if you are planning for a lot of interactivity on your site (direct sales, multimedia, big contests and online events) or you have dreams of one day crashing out your web host’s servers with crazy-huge traffic (which you shouldn’t: Crash out anyone’s servers, that is!). If you’re already committed to heavy online activity, then plan to expand—even if you’re just starting out now.

If you already know your site is going to be traffic-heavy one day, look for either VPS hosting plan or one that offers a dedicated server—one you don’t share with any other business or person—and full, VIP service. No one does this better than Liquid Web.

This is what Melissa Ingold of  http://timefreedombusiness.com/ has to say about Liquid Web:

Drawbacks? Liquid Web is the top end of the scale when it comes to web hosting, with Linux-based VPS hosting starting at $79 per month and fully dedicated server hosting starting at $289 per month—though Liquid Web does run specials, and there is one at time of writing bringing this latter cost down to $139 per month.

At the extreme opposite end of the scale, you have companies which will promise you hosting for as little as $1.89 per month, but this is not recommended. Web hosts that inexpensive often lack essential features, offer little or poor support, and can be malware magnets—or even run their own ads on your site.

If you are budget-constrained and/or just want a simple site with payment processing and multimedia hosted and handled through third parties like PayPal or GoToWebinar, then you can choose a smaller web hosting Company.  

Look for one with generous or unlimited bandwidth and/or unlimited domains you can add on. Choose a company that has been in business a long time and displays verifiable testimonials, like Reliable Webs, whose customer support and service is lightning-fast and simply the best in the business.

Reliable Web plans start at $12.95 per month.

In fact, Reliable Webs will set up a blog for you, if you wish, as a free courtesy service with your sign up; and you can go in and customize it later by simply changing the theme or using a plugin like Divi Builder.  (We’ll talk more about that in Module 2: Designing Your Site Like a Pro.)

Reliable Webs will also set up add-on domains for you at a simple request from you—also part of their top notch service.

No matter what hosting company you choose, make sure it has the essential features you need for the tools you’re planning to use. At the very least, for Windows PCs this includes:

  • cPanel
  • PHP 5 and MySQL 5
  • Automatic apps installer
  • Fantastico DeLuxe or Softaculous (most web hosts use Softaculous nowadays)

Step three: MAKE THEM CONNECT

One area of setting up a website that often confuses people is the difference between domain name registration and servers—and web hosting. The most common error lies in thinking that the domain name registration and your web hosting plan are all one and the same thing.

Not so.

You can register your domain with ANY domain registration company and then point your domain name to your own web host’s Name servers. (Think of it like living in 123 Astoria Street, then moving to 6 Billings Lane.  Since you’re now living at the latter, you fill out a form to get the post office to immediately start sending all your mail to 6 Billings Lane.)

Changing your Name Server is NOT (a) a redirect (b) a transfer. It’s just a way of making sure your domain name now “lives” at your web hosting server address instead of at the domain name registration company’s server address.

Either way, there will STILL be TWO fees to pay annually from now on (or every two, three or five years, if the companies you have chosen offer those options):

Annual Fees
Domain Name registration renewal

  • Annually
Web hosting renewal

  • Monthly or annually

On top of that, if you have chosen a country-based extension, like .ca for Canada, you may also have to pay a third annual fee to the body that manages that particular domain name extension (CIRA for Canadians). This is NOT a registration fee (unless you register your domain directly with that body): It is extra.

Why should I register my domain separately?

Sounds like a lot of fuss, right?

It is and it isn’t. It’s actually very easy to select a good registration company, set up an account, and just register domains with them every time you need one—you can even set these domains to auto-renew and pre-populate your registrar’s account with funds or credit card information. All you have to do, once you’ve bought your domain, is to point your name servers to your new web host; and we’ll be going through that momentarily.

The advantage to using a separate registration company is two-fold: It makes it easy to see what domains you own at a glance, keeping an eye on renewal dates … and it also usually saves a lot of money. (Compare: $25 per year after the first year on a “free” web-host-renewed domain, vs. as little as $3.95 at a separate registration company.)

And if your web host ever goes belly-up (heaven forbid!) or you plan to register more domains in the future (for dedicated landing pages or specific promotions or products) you’ll be glad you registered your domain separately.  Check out companies such as GoDaddy ($3.95), or Dynadot ($10.99) or Namecheap ($13.75)—prices valid at this time of writing for .com domains.

But if cost is no object and keeping it simple is paramount, go with your web hosts “free domain name included” offer instead.

This screenshot from HostPapa, a Canadian web hosting company that uses green energy, is pretty typical of what you’ll encounter, if free domain name registration is an option:

Understand you will still have to renew your domain name every year, however.

How do I change my name servers?

First, retrieve your “Welcome” email from your web hosting company and look through all the information until you find information on “name servers”.

Next, register a domain with your registration company. When your purchase is confirmed, log in, click on your domain name. Another page will open up giving you a dizzying array of information on your domain. Ignore everything except the words “Name Servers”. Depending on your registration company, you will be either able to click on a tab that says “Name Servers” or click on the name of your new domain itself beside the designation “Name Servers:”

Click on the clickable link. You will most likely end up in a new page like this:

Here, in our Dynadot example, you will note that you are in the “Parking” tab (darker grey than the other tabs).  You want to be in the “Name servers” section, so click on the “Name servers” tab.

Go back to your Welcome email. Your name server settings in your “Welcome” email will look like this:

  • ns1.[web-host-name].com
  • ns2.[web-host-name].com
  • ns3.[web-host-name].com

(Example: “ns1.reliablewebs.com”)

  • If your web host has provided only TWO name server addresses, choose Option 1 (“A” in the screenshot below).
  • If your web host has provided three or more name servers, select Option 2 (“B” in the screenshot above): This allows you to enter the extra name server addresses manually or select them from a drop-down menu.

When you have entered the new name servers, click on “Select Name Servers”.  If nothing seems to have happened, go back up to the top of the page and look for any sort of notification that “your update was successful”.

So, to recap, you have two options for domain name registration:

  1. Accept your hosting company’s offer of your domain name included in your hosting sign-up = Your domain registrar and your hosting company are the same
  2. Register your domain name with a domain registration company; then point the Name servers to your web hosting company = Your domain registrar and your hosting company are two separate, different companies

Either way, there will STILL be TWO fees to pay annually from now on (or every two, three or five years, if the companies you have chosen offer those options):

Annual Fees
Domain Name registration renewal

  • Annually
Web hosting renewal

  • Monthly or annually

On top of that, if you have chosen a country-based extension, like .ca for Canada, you may also have to pay a third annual fee to the body that manages that particular domain name extension (CIRA for Canadians).

STEP Four: install your wordpress website

Once you have set up your web hosting account, got your “Welcome” email and pointed your name servers to your new web host’s server, you are ready to install your WordPress website! (It may take as much as a day for the change to take place.)

The WordPress platform makes installation easy!

No matter who you have chosen for your web host, go to your cPanel dashboard (look in your “Welcome” email for instructions on how to log into cPanel) and scroll down through all the various options until you come to the section “SOFTACULOUS APPS INSTALLER”.  

Click on the WordPress symbol, and it will take you to the next page. Scroll down if you have to, and when you find the button, click on “Install Now”.

You will then need to fill in information for your site in the following categories before proceeding to the next step:

  • Protocol: Leave this blank if you want your URL to start with just “http://”—or if you have an SSL certificate for a “https://” sit—or you want “www”, press the drop-down arrow and select the protocol you prefer.
  • Choose Domain: There should only be one domain showing—your new one—if this is a brand new webhosting account. As long as the domain name is showing, you don’t have to do anything.
  • In Directory: Leave it blank if it is going to be your primary domain.
  • Site Settings: Replace the generic text with your site/blog name (e.g. “Lucy Toast, Marketing Strategist”); and a brief description of what it’s about.

(Do not check “Enable Multisite (WMPU)

  • Admin Settings: Resist the urge to allow your admin name to be “Admin”—that is far too easy to hack! Choose something random, like “BfwUp2” as your admin name. (Randomize your password too.)
  • Select Plugins: Enable the Limited Login Attempts plugin by checking the radio button. (We’ll be adding more plugins later, during Module 3: Using the Power of WordPress.
  • Advanced Settings: All you need to do here is enter the email address that you want WordPress to send your installation details to—and press “Install”.

Once you’ve pressed “Install”, that’s it! You can log out, and collect your installation details from your email inbox at the address you just entered.

In Module 2: Designing Your Site Like a Pro you’ll learn how to plan your branded design, work with color and choose the best theme—along with a “sneak peek” analysis of eight different styles of websites, to help you decide on yours.

 

Next Chapter- Designing Like a Pro