The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Business Website and Host


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.
Here is Bluehost’s website, and its home page tells me immediately what it costs, what I get, and they have both toll-free telephone support and live chat, plus one-click software installation for when I’m ready to create that website:
Web hosting recommendations by Maria Peagler SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com
Once I’m logged into my account, it’s easy to find what I need. I’m immediately shown a screen with easy-to-read sections so I can find what I’m looking for:
Web hosting recommendations by Maria Peagler SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com
Once you’ve chosen your web hosting company, you can use their tools to help find a great domain name. Returning to our real estate agent, what should she look for in a domain name? One that is short and describes what people are searching for in north Georgia vacation homes. A great combination, if you can get it, is a domain name that contains the words people use most when searching online for your product. While you can guess at the keywords they use, a better way is to use a tool like Google’s Keyword Analyzer.
I enter north georgia mountain homes in the keyword analyzer, and it tells me the most popular search terms are georgia mountain homes:
google keyword analyzer maria peagler socialmediaonlineclasses.com
So I want a domain name including those three words. Here’s what Bluehost’s Register Domain tool told me when I looked for georgiamountainhomes.com :
Registering a domain name Maria Peagler SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com
Darn. It’s already taken. That’s not surprising. Competition for popular domain names is fierce, especially in local areas with bustling industries. Real estate domain names are challenging because there are limited ways to say “Georgia Mountain Homes.” The Register Domain tool offers several suggestions for domain names that are close, but I’m not thrilled with any of them.
I try again, this time being more specific. It’s actually north Georgia where people look for mountain homes, so I can search for that:
Registering a domain name Maria Peagler SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com
Success! I searched to see if northgeorgiamountainhomes.com was available, and it is. While the name isn’t as short as I would like, it contains the exact words people use when searching online for real estate in my area. That means my listings and my website will be far more likely to appear every time homebuyers are looking for listings in my area.
Bookmark this post and let it be your guide when you need to claim a domain name and select an outstanding web host. Follow these steps and you’ll place your business website ahead of 90% of your competition simply because you did your research. Good luck!

This guest post is by Maria Peagler (@SM_OnlineClass), founder of SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com, providing 24/7 online courses and mastermind consulting on social media tools and strategies. Maria is offering a WordPress 101 course to a lucky GloriaRand.com reader: simply share this post with your colleagues, leave a comment telling us how you shared by the end of the day, and you’ll be entered to win. Good luck!
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7 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Business Website and Host

  1. Pingback: SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com Blog Tour: Day Three at Gloria Rand, SEO Expert — Social Media Online Classes

  2. What an excellent article you have written here. I really enjoyed reading through all of it and have bookmarked your website so I can come back to it in the future. It is so great to finally find someone who takes the time to research their topic and write a quality article about it. Too many people put up blogs with nothing useful or worth reading. So thank you so much for not being of those people. I will be back soon to read more.

  3. Hi Gloria Rand,

    Thank you for posting this. Your ideas have been very helpful over the last few months.

    I have started my own mlm company in the Bristol, UK and Ive noticed that currently there is currently a mighty opportunity for marketers to initiate morebusiness through the internet.

    I have grown used to checking out your content and I look forward to checking out more of it in the future 🙂

    Vil P

  4. A very nice post, indeed web hosting is the primary constituent when you are starting a website. People rarely care about the web hosts but it is one of the most important parameter in the performance of website. I appreciate your post with such informative material. I just subscribed to your post and awaiting for more good posts on web hosting over the coming days. Thanks

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