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Who should I use -
The quick answer!

Domain Names and Web Hosting

Choosing a Domain Name

What should you call your Domain?

Which Top-Level domain extension should I use?

Is it registered in YOUR name?

Give your new Domain Name time to become Active

Domain Name Service Features

Web Forwarding

Holding Pages

Domain Name Mail Options

Transferring your Web Space or Domain Name

Domain Name Disputes

Web Site Hosting

Hackers

Free Web Hosting for Businesses? - Don't do it!

Banner adverts enforced by your Provider

Additional Services get charged EXTRA!!!

So, who should register my Domain?

But how much does it cost?

Check Domain Name Availability

 

 

Free Advice on the Best Domain Name Registration Services

Domain Names Purchase - Read this to save you frustration and money !

Before you register or purchase your domain name consider the following points:-

On this page you will find free advice about the pitfalls to avoid when you are buying a domain name or choosing a domain name service provider. I hope you will find the tips that follow useful and easy to understand. I have tried to provide you with honest, unbiased advice including (after much research) who I consider to be leading Domain Name and Web Hosting providers for all the reasons outlined in this article. Please feel free to if you have any comments. Feedback is always welcome.
James Prior - Internet Marketing Consultant - Prior IT Solutions Ltd
and original author of this article page Copyright (C) 2001 & 2006

Having worked for over 25 years in the computer and Internet industries I have seen many different service-levels for domain name registration and web space hosting - and on occasions have been frustrated by offers which, at first look attractive, but end up costing you more money. Whether you are looking for a cheap domain registration service for personal use or a business quality service you will not want the same problems that some people experience after making a rushed decision.

There's about 20 minutes reading here, but I promise you it will be worth it. You will learn what you should look for in a Domain Name Provider, and some of the dirty tricks played by unscrupulous providers trying to get your business.

You can of course trust me and just go to the bottom of the page where you will find the main benefits of this Domain Provider, but you will miss out on a number of interesting facts. You can also use the links at the right hand side to jump to those topics.

Let's get stuck in......

Domain Names and Web Hosting

Although usually offered as a complete package, these are entirely seperate services. If you already have some web space but its name is not very good, buy a more professional domain name and point it at your web space - but first check that your new Domain Name service provider includes certain standard domain name features for FREE!

Choosing a Domain Name

What should you call your Domain?

Choose a name which not only reflects your project or business name, but also includes a couple of your most important keywords which people would use when searching for you on the Internet. It is important to do some research on keywords before you start (see my Keyword Research Resources page).

Domain names can be up to 67 characters long (including the extension of .com, .co.uk, etc), so you have plenty of room for additional keywords. Also it helps human readability if you seperate each word with a hyphen,
e.g. www.my-domain-name.com
Many people ask whether including hyphens helps or hinders your domains ranking in search engines. Search engines like Google don't really care about whether you include hyphens, they can still pick out the key words.

So don't just call your domain name;

www.jimsstudios.com - instead think along the lines of

www.jimsmusicstudios.com or

www.jims-music-studios.com or even

www.jims-music-studios-song-writing.com

Additionally Internet search engines rank letters higher in the alphabet with slightly more importance, and also Directory's (like Yahoo or Open Directory Project) will list web sites in alphabetical order, so choosing a domain name which starts with an A is better than Z. Think about a telephone directory, who is at the top of the list?

Another consideration for new businesses is What will your actual business name be? This may seem an odd remark until you consider that two of the very important Internet search directories Yahoo (which can account for a whopping 50% of traffic to your web site) and Open/DMOZ, both search on your actual business name entry within their directory (rather than the domain name). Let me explain a little more....

When you submit your web site to be included in Yahoo's directory the human editor who reviews your site will check whether your domain name matches your real-world business name (to make sure you aren't trying any alphabet tricks by calling your web site "A1 Freds London Restaurant" at www.aaa-freds-london-restaurants.com, when the real business name is simply "Freds Place").

"Many Internet based businesses appreciate the importance of naming a domain correctly, even to the point that they will name their business AFTER choosing a good, memorable, keyword rich domain name!"

Yahoo manually review your submission to them (which you are paying $299 for!!), and scrutinise your request for such alphabetic sequence tactics, and they may edit your business name to be more acceptable to their policies, or worse reject your application. However if the company name which appears on the front-page of your web site seems legitimately related to your real-world business name (including keywords if possible), and it also matches your registered domain name, then they can't argue against it (see also the WHOIS information in just a moment).

Just bear in mind that your choice of domain name can be very important in achieving a good marketing strategy. The search engines and directories use so many different factors in deciding the position of your web site in search results, and your Domain Name is just one part of the big game.

It's a question of balance really.

Remember these important points:-

  • Does your Domain Name describe the business?
  • Is it easy to say on the phone, and easy for your customers to remember?
  • Does it contain at least 1 or 2 keywords?
  • Is it short enough to be usable on Business Cards, or when typing in E-Mail addresses?
  • Might people mis-spell it easily?

You might consider registering more than one domain name; one with keywords (and hyphens) and one without, so you've got one short-snappy name which is easy to remember or type, plus another longer one for the benefit of Internet searches. In fact, the whole strategy of improving your web sites positioning in the search engines is one thing you should seriously consider. It is called Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

"There is no point in paying for your web site design, hosting and domain names unless you are commited to marketing it properly once built. Or put another way - You can have the most amazing web site in the world but it is not worth anything if people are unable to locate it !!"

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Which Top-Level domain extension should I use?

There are a large number of "top level" domain extensions which are intended to categorise your web site, either by business or organisation type, or by country or region.

Some of the common extensions are:-

  • .com (Commercial)
  • .co.uk (Companies UK)
  • .org.uk (Organisations UK)
  • .net (Networks)
  • .org (Organisations)
  • .uk.com (UK Commercial)
  • .eu.com (European Commercial)

You might also wish to take advantage of the much-hyped NEW top-level domains:-

  • .info (Information)
  • .biz (Business)
  • .tv (Television)
  • .name (Names)

In fact .tv is the recently added country region code for a small island in the South Pacific Ocean called Tuvalu, but since it is such a common acronym in the western world it is viewed as being the perfect prestigious domain name extension for any business related to the world of "television".

Take your pick! Just remember that United States domains are a bit more expensive, are paid annually and up to 10 years in advance, while UK and .info domains are allocated and paid for every 2 years.

Consider obtaining more than one of the top-level domains, e.g. buy both

www.jims-music-studios.co.uk
www.jims-music-studios.com

Heres why:-

  1. When you already have the domains that are desirable to you, it prevents an unscrupulous person buying it before you do and then demanding a high price if you want to buy it back. This happens!
  2. Many people will go to your web site by typing your domain name directly into their web browser, but sometimes they cannot remember whether your domain name was a .com or .co.uk or any of the others. By using one domain as the main web space, and setting up the others to point at it you are ensuring they will find your web site no matter which they type in.
  3. Having more than one from the outset allows future growth possibilities for your business, where you may later wish to add a new web site to turn one of your redirected domains into proper web space, so covering different countries, products or services.

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Is it registered in YOUR name?

Before you can register your domain name you should have the following information available:-

  1. Your business name and full mailing address
  2. Your business phone number
  3. Your e-mail address
  4. Full contact names(s) for Billing, Administrative and Technical Contacts

All the above details are entered into a public database so that anyone can obtain information about your domain and basic business contact details using a simple facility freely available on the Internet called WHOIS. In fact every Domain Names Registration service uses the WHOIS Domain Lookup query to check whether a domain that you want to buy is available or not.

The details shown by WHOIS are obviously important data about your company. Your Domain Name provider should provide you with some way to change the WHOIS data, usually by a browser-based Control Panel, but....

"Did you know that some Domain Name Service Providers often put their own details in YOUR domain name information?"

This may be because their order forms are not set up to request the information, or simply because they cannot be bothered to enter your details. Also if they have entered their own e-mail address as a point of contact, other service providers cannot offer you better services simply from the WHOIS data.

The point is that you have the right to enter your information - and this may be extremely important if you intend to register many domains with the idea of selling them again for profit. Do you remember that I told you earlier that Yahoo check your details to make sure things match up against your submission. Well the WHOIS data is one of the things Yahoo use.

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Give your new Domain Name time to become Active

Once a domain name has been purchased and registered with the appropriate domain organisation (Nominet, InterNIC, etc depending on which country it relates to), your new domain name has to propagate around the world through all the major Internet DNS computer servers (Domain Name Service). This process can take 2 to 3 days to happen! In the meantime you will usually be given details of a temporary URL which allows you to log in and configure the facilities of your new domain.

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Domain Name Service Features:-

Web Forwarding

Perhaps you are in the process of growing your business, and have started on free web space with the intention of moving to a better service soon? Well in that case, you can obtain a Domain Name of your choice, but just make sure it has Web Forwarding which you can configure (using your web-browser to access a Control Panel) when you want to.

So, straight away you can buy

http://www.my-professional-company.com/

and "point" it to

http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/studio.1

and later when you to choose to uprate the web space, you simply change the Domain Name to point to the new location (either by web forwarding again, or by changing the DNS Server settings).

Web Forwarding usually allows you to select different ways of pointing to your web space called "framed" and "non-framed". Let me explain it.

Suppose someone does a search at Google or Yahoo, and your business pops-up in the search results, they will see your business listed using your professional Domain Name. Next they click the link to go to your web site. Well, the Framed option makes sure that the address bar in their browser continues to show the professional domain name. However if your web site is also programmed using HTML "frames", you might need to use the Non-Framed web forwarding option for your website to work properly. You should experiment to see which works best for you.

Note: Web Forwarding is considered a medium-term solution. It shouldn't be used to "hide" a bad URL indefinitely. There are good reasons related to search engines as to why not, but it is too complex an issue to discuss here.

 

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Holding Pages

When you want to reserve or purchase your domain name immediately, but don't have a web site yet, you will require a "holding page". This allows you to inform anybody visiting your new domain that you do exist as a company, although your site is "under development". You can add some basic information providing contact details, what products or services you will be providing with the new site, and when you estimate it to be online. This way you are setting your customers expectations and showing that you will be online soon, and meanwhile you are making it possible to get hold of you and maybe even win some business anyway!

Therefore look for a Domain Name service provider who can offer a Holding Page Wizard allowing easy construction of your preliminary web site.

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Domain Name Mail Options

A proper Domain Name portrays the right image about your company from the moment someone receives your E-Mails. A good Domain Name service will allow a number of e-mail related options.

Catch-ALL E-Mail Forwarding

Check that your Domain Name Service provider allows "catch-all" forwarding of e-mails. This is another item that should be included as part of the basic package. You use it to automatically forward every e-mail sent to your domain to one other e-mail address. This can be used to create the impression of having several different departments each with their own e-mail address. All the e-mails (regardless of their To: address at your domain) simply get sent to one receiving e-mail address, for example:

sales@your-new-domain.co.uk >>> james@myspace.virgin.net
info@your-new-domain.co.uk >>> james@myspace.virgin.net

E-Mail Forwarding Addresses

Your provider should be able to allow e-mail forwarding on an individual basis for a reasonable quantity of addresses, 50 or 100 for example. Perhaps you have several people who work for you at different locations and they prefer to receive e-mail to their personal e-mail address. To maintain a professional company image you want a seperate address for each at your domain which will automatically forward to them. For example:

joe.bland@yourdomain.co.uk >>> joeb@home.freeserve.co.uk
sarah.richards@yourdomain.co.uk >>> srich1526@myspace.virgin.net

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Transferring your Web Space or Domain Name

Once or twice you might find it necessary to transfer your web site to another server, or transfer your domain name to another provider. For example;

  1. You chose a bad provider in the first place
  2. You want to use a better name for your web space
  3. Your site has grown considerably and needs to be put on a new dedicated server with more capacity.

Beware! Some providers will charge you before they "release" your domain name!

Also you should look for a service that allows you to change the Name Servers or Nominet IPS tag. Again this can be done from a Control Panel which you launch in your web browser. Without this you might waste a day or two just waiting for a helpdesk support request to be actioned.

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Domain Name Disputes

Occasionally disputes occur over domain names infringing the rights of other domain owners. For example someone may have purchased a domain name identical to yours except for the top-level domain, and then set up a competing web site designed to take away your business. Provided their web site has no legitimate reason to exist other than stealing your custom then this is a likely case for a dispute.

Dispute actions should be mentioned in a domain name providers Terms and Conditions where an acknowledged judiciary body specifies a procedure to follow. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN - www.icann.org) has created such a policy called the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy. Similarly the UK naming authority Nominet (www.nic.uk) handle all disputes in relation to .uk names.

What you have to watch out for is what your Domain provider will do if a dispute arises in connection with your domain name. Some specify in the small print that they will close down your account at their discretion. Here is a real life example from one of the large domain service companies......

"Company x reserves the right, on becoming aware of such a dispute concerning a domain name, at its sole discretion and without giving any reason, to either suspend or cancel the relevant service associated with the domain name, and/or to make such representations to the relevant naming authority as it deems appropriate. Company X also reserve the right to cancel your domain name if it believes it may violate someone else's intellectual property rights."

Whilst some of this clause seems sensible and fair if you are at fault, it indicates that even if you are "in the right" and win the case, in the meantime your web site could effectively have been shutdown! Depending on the nature of your business this could mean thousands in lost revenue.

Make sure that your provider, who has every right to protect themselves from damage due to a dispute, is also sympathetic to the proper dispute procedures. Read their T's & C's carefully, and particularly so if you think your domain might be one that would attract an attack from competition, regardless of who instigates it.

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Web Site Hosting

Many web site owners in their efforts to find the best deal at the lowest prices end up moving from one hosting provider to another. This is often because they get poor customer service, poor network connections or get charged extra for all the additional features that are required for a web site to be an effective marketing tool.

"Reliable web hosting is extremely important - downtime costs your business money (sometimes in the thousands) - so the saving you made on initial cheap setup, just cost you big-time!"

Hackers

Good security is vital.

You need a host who knows how to protect their systems and is up to date on all the things that hackers can do. At a recent webmaster seminar in London I watched a fascinating demonstration where an exhibiting company deliberately hacked into a website and "defaced" the main page of a pretend online banking corporation. They then continued deeper to locate and crack all the system passwords so allowing them to change database entries, members logins and so on. It was a very poignant demonstration of how, with a little knowledge, someone can easily hack into systems and destroy your valuable data, or obtain your confidential information. You probably guessed, that company specialises in Internet security and firewall systems analysis and recommendations.

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Free Web Hosting for Businesses? - Don't do it!

The trouble with free web hosting is that you get a web site address (the URL) which instantly indicates to visitors that your web site is hosted free, e.g. http://freespace.tiscali.co.uk/myspace. What does this say about you? Perhaps your potential customer will think, "Hey if they can't afford a proper URL, how can I believe in what they are trying to sell me. Will my credit card order be safe?", and so on. You get the idea, they just won't perceive you as a real business.

What if your Free Web Space provider starts to charge you? You might as well have paid for a proper service at the start.

And what if your Free web space got closed down because of misuse by your "neighbours" at that Free web space? This could be due to spam e-mailing for example, or someone violating a Search Engines policies. Some search engines will blacklist IP Addresses, resulting in a whole free web space community being removed from the search engine database, including your website!

You would then have to "relocate" your online shop or business to a new address. This is a major problem because then all your valuable customers who had bookmarked your web site address - have just lost you! Once again it highlights to them that you weren't set up very well in the first place.

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Banner adverts enforced by your Provider

Some providers will stipulate (often deep inside the terms and conditions) that in order for you to have FREE web space, you must let them display their banner at the top or bottom of your web pages, to provide advertising for them.

Well OK, for a free service I agree this is probably acceptable, but as your business grows you want to portray a more professional image, and you certainly don't want to waste your marketing strategy getting customers to your site only to have them click away to another web site!

So you decide to get rid of the banner. Now you discover (in the small print) that you have to pay them, sometimes $30 or more, for the "privilege" of having it removed.

Another trick to watch out for is when your domain registration is about to expire at the end of the year:-

Suppose you originally registered your Domain Name with "Company X". Then, toward the end of the year you might recieve an e-mail from "A N Other Company Y" reminding you that its time to renew, and they say "Hey - why don't you consider transferring your domain from Company X to us for next years registration, and we're really cheap, etc, etc."

So you go for it. Next day the fees have been paid and the domain name transferred to them. Imagine how you would feel when you next look at your web site and see their annoying little banner at the bottom of your main front page. And yet the e-mail that enticed you to go with them never made you aware of the banner, let alone where to read their terms and conditions!

So be vigilant - scrutinise attractive offers to make sure they are not hiding additional costs by clever methods. This will not be a problem if you choose the right Domain Name and Web Hosting provider in the first place - one that supplies all the right tools, options and facilities (I will tell you who in just a moment).

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Additional Services get charged EXTRA!!!

Well of course they do! All hosting provision businesses have to make money - especially in the cut-throat competition of the Internet. But often, the Internet novice ends up paying more than he need to for web hosting services. Of course you will likely know that to be an effective marketing tool a web site requires certain features.

  • Page Counters
  • E-Mail Feedback Forms
  • Web Page Hit and Referrer Statistics
  • Updateable News Pages
  • Bulletin Boards
  • Secure Areas for Credit Card Payments
  • Password Protected Areas
  • Online Product Databases

What you may not realise is that in order to make these things work your web space must have a combination of some programming languages and databases, such as the following:-

  • CGI (Common Gateway Interface), Perl, C++, Java
  • ASP (Active Server Pages)
  • JSP (Javascript Server Pages)
  • PHP (PHP Hypertext Pre-Processor)
  • SSI (Server Side Includes)
  • SQL Database (Structured Query Language), Microsoft Access, Microsoft SQL, MySQL, Oracle SQL, etc.
  • CFML Database (Coldfusion Markup Language)
  • and the list goes on!

Some of the database features and programming languages required for high-performance e-commerce business sites (such as Microsoft SQL, Oracle SQL, CFML) are expensive and you would naturally expect to pay for them.

However whilst good hosting providers include several of these in their basic start-up price, other hosting services don't. You "discover" the importance of them later on. Then they charge you for each option individually, eventually totalling far more than you would have paid for a fully-featured professional service in the first place! These companies prey on the newcomers lack of knowledge.

Additionally if your web space doesn't cater for the new-age programming languages your web site designers may charge you more to develop bespoke features using old or more basic development tools and languages.

Personally as well as virtual server hosting I like to use my own dedicated server, and for this I use and highly recommend Memset Dedicated Servers. They provide very reasonably priced servers. In particular look at their MiniServer package.

 

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So, who should register my Domain?

At the start of this article I explained that we narrowed down a particular domain names registration service provider. Many people I have spoken to tell stories along the lines of the problems I have described to you, and have since reduced their problems and saved money by using their services.

When I started Prior IT Solutions a few years ago I carefully researched the details of several well-known domain and hosting companies before we chose this particular one. We are pleased with the network services, access, performance and utilities they provide. And their telephone and e-mail support is always prompt. They are part of a large PLC based in the huge London Docklands telecommunications data centre, with fast, reliable connections.

The company I am talking about is Host-Europe/PIPEX, who are one of Europe's leading Internet hosting companies They provide scaleable hosting solutions, server co-location, global domain name registration and e-commerce services to the SME market. Host Europe was formerly called Magic Moments Internet PLC, and changed its name in March 2001, and later became part of the PIPEX Group. Host Europe has been a public listed company on the London Stock Exchange's AIM market since 13 September 1999.

The sister companies of Host-Europe provide segmentation of their services;

  • Dedicated Servers offers an unparalleled range of dedicated servers, managed services and server co-location for businesses who require the ultimate in performance and reliability from their hosting solution.
  • Magic Moments and WebFusion are Host-Europes UK brands offering web hosting packages based on virtual servers, providing highly cost effective solutions for customers such as Metrosketch.
  • 123-reg is one of the lowest cost and most popular domain name registration services in the world. Domains come with a wealth of standard features including full on-line domain management, web and e-mail forwarding, a holding page wizard, no release fee, 24/ 7/ 365 telephone and e-mail support and much more. 123-reg customers can easily upgrade to virtual hosting products.

What I like most about Host-Europe is their helpful attitude, and everything is made easy.

Easy to start, easy to setup, easy to understand.

I hope that this article has been of use to you. All I ask is that if you think I have "earned" my commission as an affiliate of 123-Reg that you bookmark this page and use the links when ordering your domains.

Now you can choose your domain with confidence.

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But how much does it cost?

The banners on this page are maintained by 123-Reg, so the prices they show will be up to date. You should visit their web page by clicking the banners to see their latest price guides.

  • 123-Reg provide the lowest price for domains in the World
  • 100% secure order processing systems (SSL & PGP encryption)
  • Get .info .eu.com .co.uk .org.uk .com .net .uk.com
  • Reserve .name and .eu domains
  • Double the difference back if you find anyone cheaper for the same features!
  • Bulk discounts start at 10+, then 30+ domains
  • Display and E-Mail invoices for all domains ordered through 123-Reg

Now you may recall some of the points I mentioned in my article above as you read through the following features that 123-Reg provide for FREE!! Yes - That means all the following features are included in the basic price:-

  • Web Forwarding
  • Catch-all E-Mail forwarding
  • Forwarding of up to 100 E-Mail aliases
  • Holding Page Wizard
  • Change Name Servers
  • Change IPS Tag (applies to UK domains only)
  • Change Registration Contact details
  • Full Domain Management Control
  • No transfer fee to move your domains to any other provider (some companies charge 19)
  • On call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year
  • They don't charge your Telephone calls
  • Part of a large PLC
  • ALL Domains are registered in your name
  • Fully functional, real-time Control Panel
  • You only pay when you order (no domain credits or payments required beforehand)
  • No limit to the number of domains you can buy (some companies restrict quantity)

Click the banners to visit the 123-Reg.co.uk web site, where you can obtain more details about their fantastic offers and domain services.

Check Domain Name Registration Availability

Please click here to check if your desired domain name is available

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Feelsphere provides a resources page with a number of other useful domain related links:-

FeelSphere.com

Hosting by Memset Dedicated Servers

 

 
 
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