Posts tagged Website Presence

What you need to know about domain names and search engine rankings

Beyond the obvious fact that it is a good idea to have your own domain for a web site, can domains make a difference in how well you rank with the search engines? The answer is, sometimes. Search engines look at hundreds of details about a web site to determine how well it ranks for a given search term or phrase. The domain name represents one of those details it examines, and it turns out that it is one of the more important on-site details that search engines consider.

There are many factors that go into determining our search rankings. SEO professionals categorize them as on site and off site factors. Off-site factors are mainly backlinks to our site from other webpages and social media. On-site factors are those we can influence directly by changing things on our site. These include our domain name.

The content and organization considerations include the quality of the content, the originality of the content, how the content is linked together and how well organized the site is. These really cover thousands of small details, which taken individually are not that important to search engines, but in aggregate become very significant. However, the domain name is probably the most significant single detail that search engines look at.

There are a couple of things that search engines consider to be important about domains. The first of these is the top level domain, or domain extension. Top level domains are the part of the domain name that includes “.com”, “.org”, “.net”, “.info”, etc. Google has been known to penalize domains that have been heavily used for spammy-looking web site. Among those believed to be penalized by Google are the “.info”, “.me” and “.tv” top level domains. This does not mean that a site named “example.info” will never rank well. It does mean, all things being equal, that the owner of that site will have to work harder and wait longer to see it on page one of the search results than the owner of “example.net” or “example.com”.

The stuff that goes after the dot in a domain name is not as important as the name itself. Your site targets an audience and it makes sense to use a term that is relevant to that audience as your domain name. If you run a golf school you would like to use golf.com or golfschool.com as your domain name because it just makes the most sense.

Most of those general terms are unavailable as domain names and ranking for them is virtually impossible (without investing A LOT of money) so usually a more defined and less competitive niche is selected. If you want to rank high for a term “red golf balls” a domain name redgolfballs.com is your best bet. The key here is to use the exact phrase you want to rank high for, this gives you an advantage against others in that niche. It is important though to do your research so that you do not try to rank for a keyword that has very few searches per month. If your exact domain name is not available you can go for red-golf-balls.com but the no hyphen version is preferred. Alternatively you can add something – like redgolfballshq.com. Using these alternative versions comes with a risk though, someone who just hears your domain name can type it without hyphens or the “hq” at the end and go to your competitor’s site.

If you were looking for cut and dried truths that are absolute and well documented, then you should not be trying to get ranked with the search engines. Search engines do not document how their systems determine a web site’s rank. Just remember that of all the simple things you can do to help your web site, picking a good domain name from the start is probably the most important.

You can read more of my work about web hosting and other hosting topics.

Server Hosting: What To Look For

Server hosting is a vital part of the world wide web. Whether or not you realize it, every major website is running a server of some kind. Some may be running their own data centers where they house hundreds or even thousands of servers. Others may be running one or two servers. Every website runs on a server, some are shared and some are dedicated. Server hosting is essentially a step up from a typical shared hosting environment.

When to consider your own server?

If your site has grown significantly, or you have been troubled by frequent problems like slow site speed, freezups or temporary database unavailability there usually is no other way out than to change to a dedicated server. Another reasons might include: the need for a special software installed that is not allowed on the shared account or the need for higher security.

Can I use my shared hosting provider to run my own server?

Ask your current shared hosting provider – most of them will be able to manage a dedicated server for you as well. The advantage is that the environment you manage your site in will not change. Hosting companies usually run the same software on their dedicated servers as they use for shared hosting. This means there are unlikely to be problems when switching. You can also look around on the internet and compare prices with other providers to make sure you are not paying too much.

What type of server should I use?

Your hosting company should be able to come up with a fitting server configurations, make sure that you have enough for further growth, you should check these:

Bandwidth: The bandwidth needs for each site is very different. Sites that are loaded with pictures or files, will need more bandwidth than a regular blog. Finding a provider who offers a decent amount of bandwidth is essential. If the bandwidth of your site runs out, your site will go down or you will have to pay even more money to keep it running. Ensuring access to your website is the number one priority for an online presence.

Disk Space: Just like bandwidth, disk space is dependent on your needs. A file host will need a lot more disk space than a regular website. Thankfully, hosts offer a lot of space for the regular user.

Server management: will your hosting company take care of the server administration? If yes you will use the dedicated server as a kind of a bigger, more powerfull shared hosting account – this means you just run your site not caring about administering your server. You can also choose to manage your server yourself, in this case you are responsible for installing and updating the applications as well as keeping the server secure.

Memory: having enough RAM is crucial yet how do you find out how much you need? I would start with 4-8GB for most servers. Just make sure it is possible to add more if you need it. Some servers have limitations and you would not want to have to change the whole server just because it is not possible to use more than 4GB of RAM.

Robustness: go with a reliable brand when ordering a server, don’t use homemade servers, you need a computer that works all the time and a quick srevice team if it fails. Choosing a good hosting provider is important also, you need their network to be highly available and their staff professional and with their customer needs in mind.

Switching to a dedicated server is usually a hectic process but if you choose your hosting partner well it should go smoothly and you can sit back and be proud that your site has grown so far.

I have extensive experience working for a webhosting company for more than 12 years. You can read more of my articles about hosting, domains, serverhousing.

Comparision of web hosting soultions

When looking for a hosting solution to run your website on you will be deciding between shared hosting, virtual private server (VPS) or a dedicated server. Cost is always an issue so you should not buy more than you need at the moment. For this reason the shared hosting solutions are used most widely.

Shared webhosting

Your site will be hosted on a server along with hundreds of other websites. These plans tend to be very cheap ranging around 5USD per month typically. All the admin and maintenance of the server is done by the webhosting company and the cost is spread among a lot of users – this allows for such a favorable pricing. The main problem of this solution is the dependance on others – if a site on a server experiences high number of visitors at the same time or if there is a problem with a site’s coding that overloads the server all other sites hosted on the same server are affected.

Dedicated server

When the user wants to move from sharing the resources to lease an entire server, he chooses the dedicated server hosting. Users can easily switch from the shared hosting to the dedicated hosting from the cPanel of their web hosting services. The cost of the dedicated server is high, so the users generally do the switch only in case it is really needed. Some web hosting services offers the maintenance and the upgrades of the server, however, a few of them do not offer any further server management services.

Virtual Server Hosting

For some users, the shared hosting might not meet their needs anymore and dedicated server hosting can be quite expensive. For such users, virtual server hosting can be the perfect solution. The customer has more resources as compared to the shared hosting; however, the complete server is not rented in this case. The Virtual Private Server (VPS) is based on a partition on the server due to which it acts like a dedicated server that is not shared on that partition. Other virtual servers are based on other partitions and thus, each of them can even have their own operating system and processing power. Customers do not need to maintain their servers since they are located on the main webserver. Also, the virtual dedicated webserver offers more disk space and bandwidth as compared to the shared hosting.

Conclusion

You will see all the products mentioned provided by most hosting companies. The cost difference among different providers are typically not pronounced as far as the cheaper options (shared hosting/private servers) go but can get up there in the dedicated servers arena. It’s quite hard to compare these higher end services without actually using them for a while. There is the difference in hardware used and of course the supporting services can range widely too.

If your site grows, you will most likely need to use a higher end service such as a virtual server or a dedicated server. Don’t be afraid of the cost, you should be more than able to offset it by the increase in business your visitors bring you when your site’s traffic increases.

I have worked in the webhosting business for more than 10 years. You can check out more of my articles here.