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Blogging 101: Domain Names

by Amber on April 28, 2011

You might be asking yourself what the point of having your own domain name is. There are a lot of merits to registering your own domain name, and you can do that whether you pay for hosting or use a free service like Blogger. The domain name can be pointed at any “spot” on the web, whether you pay for it or it is free.

The first thing to note is that having your own domain name lends a certain amount of credibility to your blog. Who do you take more seriously: bluebonnetsandbrownies.com or bluebonnetsandbrownies.blogspot.com?

Secondly, it is easier to remember a straight domain name, rather than a subhosted blog name like what I mentioned above. There are lots of different free services out there. Someone might remember the name of your blog, but asking them to remember who hosts your blog as well might be too much for them to remember. So you lose out on the visit they might have made. Worse, you frustrate them as they try to remember your blog name and can’t find it on the services they think of.

When you have your own domain name, you can set up email address aliases for yourself. You don’t have to change the email account you use day to day. What it means is that you can set up addresses like “me@myblog.com”, and have the webservice automatically forward it to your personal mailbox. It looks far more professional on a business card too.

Credibility goes a long way in any kind of business. Whether you consider blogging a hobby or a potential business, having your own domain name means giving the impression that you are 100% in charge, involved, and responsible for your website. If your website is mybakingaddiction.blogspot.com, it’s blogspot that gets that recognition, not you.

Search engines are another thing to consider. Some search engines give the index page of the domain priority over anything else. When you have your own domain name, “mybakingaddiction.com” is the index page. On a free hosting site, “mybakingaddiction.wordpress.org”, the search engine would consider “wordpress.org” as the index page, thus always ranking it before your own blog.

Also, some search engines are now refusing to spider websites on free hosting services. StumbleUpon considers all blogs on free hosting services as part of the same service. When a Stumbler “likes” your free hosted blog, they are much more likely to then get blacklisted by SU. That alone has me not ‘liking’ anything that is free hosted.

When you think of a domain name you like, REGISTER IT! (You can pay sites like godaddy.com or networksolutions.com to *just* register domain names for you, without required hosting.) Or, if you decide to go self hosted, most hosts will offer you the registration of one domain name as part of your package.

Domain names are a single use commodity. You might think of a *great* domain name that describes you perfectly. If you don’t register it when you think of it, someone else could do so. Then, you’d have to buy it from them, at a price they set, to have it. I remember stories of Microsoft paying people thousands of dollars for domain names relating to Windows. You don’t want to end up in a price war with someone who snagged your domain name when you didn’t.

Plus, domains are pretty inexpensive, typically going for under $20 a year. When registering your domain, it may also be wise to do so for longer than just one year because you will usually get a discount on the per-year break down if you do so. Also, to prevent possible loss of your domain, make sure you set it up with an auto-renew feature that bills to PayPal, or a credit card that doesn’t expire for a long time.

Your blog is who you are on the web.  The bottom line is that registering a domain name and using it with your blog makes you more you.

Have a question?

Email us at questions@mybakingaddiction.com.

 

About Amber

Amber Bracegirdle spends her days as the managing editor for Food Fanatic and mama. She started Bluebonnets & Brownies as a way to connect to her Texas roots and pay homage to her grandmother, Nanny. She's traveled all over with her Brit husband, James, and now lives in NJ with him, baby Evan, and their two giant Maine Coons, Milo and Connor. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.


{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

leslie April 28, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Totally agree.. the “.com” is the way to go!

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Katie | GoodLife Eats April 28, 2011 at 6:58 pm

I totally agree. It’s so much easier to type blogname.com vs a blogspot address. Additionally, I think if possible one should avoid the use of dashes in the address, that just complicates things further. i.e. my-baking-addiction.com vs mybakingaddiction.com Someone might have a hard time remembering how many dashes and where they go.

I’d add that it is important you create a domain that is unique to you. First, you don’t want to be confused with someone else and second, you don’t want others to see you as copycat-ing someone else. You’re an original person, so choose a name that is original to you.

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Jamie April 28, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Katie-
I can’t agree with you more regarding originality! Thanks for chiming in!
-Jamie

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lisa p April 28, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Thanks again for all the helpful information. Is registering your domain name something you do when you start blogging or as it gains popularity? I have created my blog on Wordpress, but have not gone live with it yet? Where do I register a domain name? How much will it cost?

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Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies April 28, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Lisa, as I said above, you really should register your domain as soon as you’ve decided on a name that suits you. There are some services on the web that look for new “free” hosted sites and go out and register the domain name (i.e. the .com version of your blog name) on purpose, so that you have to purchase it from them at a higher price.

There are links to two sites in the post above – GoDaddy.com and NetworkSolutions.com are two sites that offer domain name registration.

It costs less than $20 per year, but varies by how many years you register at one time, as well as who you’re registering with. Sometimes you can catch someone on a special. It works the same way any store does – sometimes Target has a better sale than Wal-Mart, you know what I mean?

Hope that helps.

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Jen at The Three Little Piglets April 28, 2011 at 9:46 pm

GoDaddy sometimes offers discount codes online if you search Google as well…

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lisa p April 30, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Thanks so much Amber. Sometimes I need to go over (and over) things more than once before it sinks in. Looking forward to more posts.

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Jen at The Three Little Piglets April 28, 2011 at 9:40 pm

I advise a little research on Google first. See what is being used that is close to the name you desire or if it pops something else up. The first blog name I used (which my kids came up with when they were studying alliteration in school) actually had someone who had a somewhat questionable dance show by the same name. You can bet I changed that one pretty fast!

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Katrina April 29, 2011 at 12:52 am

Thanks for the tips!…again :)

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Di-licious April 29, 2011 at 3:03 am

I’ve just started reading Dianne Jacob’s book “Will Write for Food” and was contemplating whether to go for a domain or not. Your post is encouraging me to investigate it further. Thanks.

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Barbara | VinoLuciStyle April 29, 2011 at 12:18 pm

I couldn’t agree more; domain names are inexpensive and an important part of marketing your blog. Considering how inexpensive they are, there just isn’t any reason to not use one.

One trick in searching for a domain name is to do a Bulk search. I can’t speak about every domain registrar, but I know that at GoDaddy that option is linked near the bottom of the page. When doing a bulk search, you list multiple names that you might be interested in and the results will eliminate any of those not available. I think it’s a real timesaver vs checking on each name individually. GoDaddy will also list some options they suggest if the names you are searching for are taken.

The MOST important thing when buying a domain name? Remember the email address you used to purchase it with. Remember to change that address should you change your email provider or address. Not receiving notification of expiration and subsequently not paying your domain renewal can create a problem of huge proportions. I’ve had more than one client forget and ultimately have to start over with a new domain name when theirs expired and it was purchased by someone who tried to hold them at ransom to get it back. All could have been avoided by making sure that information is kept updated.

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Michele W April 29, 2011 at 9:37 pm

I’ve been contemplating the change, but my .com address is taken. Is .net horrible?

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Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies April 30, 2011 at 6:43 am

Michele,

Having a .net is not horrible, but know that the culture of the internet is such that people almost always search for .com first, and remember .com better. If the .com you want is taken, and in active use by another blogger, you should probably really evaluate whether or not you want to continue with that name.

Your blog is YOU on the internet. Do you really want to start out so ambiguously and with the possibility of being confused constantly with another blogger?

If the domain is registered but not being used, you can use http://www.networksolutions.com/whois to find out the technical contact information of the person who registered it, and see if they’d be willing to sell it to you. You might pay a premium since they know you want it, but even $100 for the domain name you WANT, that describes YOU, can be worth it in the long run.

Otherwise, maybe consider a blog name change.

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Maris (In Good Taste) April 30, 2011 at 5:38 am

This is such a wonderful series of interesting and very informative info.

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naomi May 2, 2011 at 2:29 am

Great series and grea tips!

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megan @ whatmegansmaking May 2, 2011 at 9:37 am

great info! I’m so glad I switched to my own domain name when I did. This is a great series for new bloggers – wish you had written it when I started ;)

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Denise @ Creative Kitchen May 7, 2011 at 10:19 am

I’ve really been enjoying your new blogging series!! I just made the switch from Blogger to my own domain name utilizing Wordpress.org. Love Wordpress…so many great features and I LOVE having my new home on the web!! It’s funny…I thought I’d be sad leaving my old blog behind…I’d had it over a year and a half and thought I still loved my old design.

But it has been GREAT to redesign it…everything moved over super easily….and I love that it’s my very own. Living as a family of 5 and sharing everything….especially in tight quarters :) I love that I can keep everything as perfectly neat as I like it. Tidy, pretty, clean….haha….

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Beth @ Persnickety Hall May 12, 2011 at 12:20 am

Thank you so much for the information! This post was just the extra push into convincing me to snag my domain. Very happy i did! And it was only $10 bucks for the year. Can’t beat that. :)

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Phoebe June 27, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Thanks for the tips. I’ve been contemplating switching and after reading your tips, it is a definite yes. But any tips on how to do the switch smoothly without losing or confusing the readers ?

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Jamie June 27, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Hey Phoebe–
Your domain company should be able to assist you with the redirection for the url. Thanks so much for visiting. Have a great day.
–Jamie

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anita August 11, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Such great information. Thank you for sharing.

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Tracey September 12, 2011 at 8:52 pm

If I start a blog on Blogspot.com, can I still register a domain name? I’m new at blogging and figured blogspot would be great for starters. Also, for any of you that may know, can I build my new blog on blogspot and add recipes to it without going live all at once? Thanks!

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Aunt Clara October 11, 2011 at 9:05 pm

If I may try to answer this: You can buy a domain name from Google, furthermore, the advantage of Blogger over Wordpress (self-hosted), and one of the few, is that Google will redirect all your links so there will not be loss of traffic or ranking.

Of course if you are web-savvy, or can pay someone you can still have everything redirected to your new host if you ever move, but trust me, it can be a pain. After 10 years and several moves my redirect list is enormous.

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Daniel Foster August 26, 2013 at 10:30 am

An excellent resource, Amber! I like the series you and Jamie have put together. I’d like to add a little bit of perspective based on my experience designing websites and working in SEO.

On the subject of domain names, it’s especially important to have one from the beginning because once your site gains recognition, you’ll almost certainly want to switch to a domain. Unfortunately, free blog hosting services aren’t very good at making it easy to redirect all your links to the new domain (a 301 redirect in tech speak). This often causes a decline in search engine traffic.

On another note, Google actually treats yourblog.wordpress.com as if it were a domain just like yourblog.com. Subdomains are always handled like domains. However, Google will treat sub-level directories wordpress.com/yourblog/ with less authority than main-level directories (yourblog.com). As far as rankings are concerned there is no immediate disadvantage to using yourblog.wordpress.com instead of yourblog.com.

This is an important topic and I’m glad you addressed it!

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