(This is the second in a series of posts covering the basics of what you need to know in order to create your business website with WordPress)
In the last post, I discussed the fact that there are two versions of WordPress, .com and .org as well as which is the preferred choice for building your website. And in order to go with that choice there are a few items that you’ll need to have in place. So let’s talk about your domain name.
What is a domain name?
a name owned by a person or organization and consisting of an alphabetical or alphanumeric sequence followed by a suffix indicating the top-level domain: used as an internet address to identify the location of particular web pages –Dictionary.com
Sounds kind of technical and geeky doesn’t it? I think an easier definition to understand is that it’s your business address… on the Internet. So it stands to reason that before you can build your online ‘office’ you need to be sure you have a place to build it.
Ideally, when you chose your business name you should also have checked to see if your business name was available as a domain name. But don’t freak, if you didn’t it’s not the end of the world. While it’s always ideal to match the two up, it’s not necessarily the end of the world if you find it’s not.
Whoa! I’m getting ahead of myself already. First I need to explain how to check to see if your desired domain name is available.
Any domain registrar (GoDaddy for example) has a search tool, but you can also use a site like Instant Domain Search. Simply type in your business name and see if yourbusinessname.com is available. If it is great! You can move on to purchasing it.
But what if it’s not?
The first thing that happens, especially if you did a search on a registrar site, is that a list of alternatives show up, for example, it may tell you that yourbusinessname.net is available. That’s cool right? Well, maybe not. My recommendation that is that rather than going with the .net or .biz alternative that you find a way to obtain a .com that may be slightly different from your business name but will still work well.
Why? Because the majority of people that are going to search for your business online are only going to go so far as to type in the .com, they aren’t going to think about .net or .biz immediately. You’re better off to do some brainstorming and come up with a domain name that has something to do with the type of business or services you provide, perhaps even using your name if your business identity is closely tied to your name. Some great information is available on choosing your domain name, like this article at SEOmoz.
Purchasing your domain name
Once you’ve found the perfect domain name, you’ll need to purchase it. This means choosing a registrar. I personally use GoDaddy to register my domain names, even though I choose to host them elsewhere. (More on that in my next post).
Purchasing a domain name isn’t quite like a normal purchase where you pay once and it’s yours. You pay for your domain name for a length of time and when that time expires you renew it. In reality, it works more like a lease than an outright purchase. When you go through the purchase steps with the registrar of your choice you’ll be given several options as far as the length of time between renewals is concerned. Usually you’re given choices between 1 and 4 years.
Although 1 year is the less expensive alternative, I’d suggest not purchasing for less then 2 years for SEO purposes. That’s right, I said SEO. Search engines like to see a commitment to the domain being around for awhile, so purchasing for at least two years makes Google and the rest happier. Which in turn will make you happier when more people are able to find you through those search engines.
Is one domain enough?
While purchasing simply the one domain name is certainly sufficient, especially if you’re bootstrapping, as your business grows you really should consider purchasing at least the .net address and simply point it to your main address. If you didn’t have to go with your name as your main domain name, you may also want to consider purchasing yourname.com and/or yourname.me.
This should have de-mystified getting your domain name a little, but there is still another step you need to take before you’re ready to install WordPress. That step is web hosting and we’ll tackle it in my next post.