Tag Archives: domain-name

URL vs. Domain

The post URL vs. Domain appeared first on HostGator Blog . It’s time to get your dream domain name and start building your very first website. But, there’s only one issue. There are so many different technical terms; it can be challenging to figure out what you need and what you don’t need before you can begin with your domain registration. There are a lot of technical steps you’ll need to take to lay the foundation for your online presence. With each of these steps come dozens of technical terms, ready to trip you up. Two of those you’ve probably come across are a domain name and a URL. Often, you’ll see these referring to the same thing, but they’re actually different things.  Don’t worry. This post will clear up all the differences and similarities between URLs vs. domain names, so you can get on finding a domain name and building out your new site.  Below you’ll learn about the differences between a URL vs. domain names, why they’re used, and their different applications, so that you can set up your domain and website the right way. Let’s dig in! What Is a URL? URL stands for Universal Resource Locator, but you almost always hear it being referred to as a URL. When you look up at your browser address bar, you’ll see the entire URL is displayed. It includes all of the information necessary to locate the right page on a website.  For example, the entire URL for this blog is https://www.hostgator.com/blog/url-vs-domain/  You’ll notice that the domain name (hostgator.com) is included in the URL. But, it’s just one piece of the entire URL. You can think of the URL as a map that your browser can follow to access the right page, resource, or image on the web server.  The critical components of a URL include a domain extension or Top Level Domain (TLD), a domain name, and the Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol, which is ‘https://.’  What Is a Domain Name? A domain name might seem simple, but it’s not that easy of a thing, especially if you’re just getting started online. Domain names exist to make the websites more accessible to you and your visitors.  Put simply, a domain name is the address that you’ll type in the address bar to access a website. For example, the domain name for this website is hostgator.com , while the domain name for Google is google.com . Domain names are a critical part of your online brand and should be memorable to your visitors.  To have a website that’s accessible by regular web users, you need a domain name and a host. When a visitor types in your domain name into their address bar, the web browser will communicate with the host that the domain points towards and will serve the visitor the associated website. If that sounds a little complex, let’s look at this example: Think of your domain name as your cell phone number. When someone wants to reach you, they dial your number, and you hear it ring on your physical phone. In this scenario, your phone number is the domain, and your cell phone is your website.  You can also purchase a domain name without actually building an associated website. Some people make a living by buying and selling domain names in a process known as domain flipping.  Understanding Domain Name Organization Now that you have a better grasp on what a domain name is, let’s look at some of the individual pieces that make up a domain name. The most common point of confusion is the Top Level Domain (TLD) , or domain extension. This is the .com, .org, or .net that follows your domain. You might have thought up your dream domain name, but when you search to see if it’s available, you find that your TLD of choice isn’t available . Generally, .com, .org, and .net are the most popular and widely used domain extensions. But, you also have TLDs that relate to specific local markets and countries like .co.uk, .ca, and .com.au.  During your domain name search, you’ll also see that there are dozens of other TLDs available. Generally, you’ll want to stick with the ones that are most popular and avoid ones that are associated with less trusted websites, like .info. But, it’s up to your discretion. Some websites even prefer to use fun and unique TLDs , because it makes sense with their branding.  Regardless, whenever you’re purchasing a domain name, it’s a smart move to purchase any of the other popular TLDs that are available. This secures your brand online, protecting you from the fearsome scenario of your competitor building a site on ‘yoursite. net ’ when your domain name is ‘yoursite. com .’ What Is the Domain Name System? Another related term you’ve probably come across is the Domain Name System (DNS). This is how domain names and IP addresses are translated. When you type a domain name into a browser, the DNS will translate that domain into the IP address of the web server where the website files are located.  This is one of the main reasons that domain names exist, to make it possible to access websites with easily memorable names. Before the DNS system you’d have to remember the IP address of any given website if you wanted to access a site.  The DNS system makes it so we can type ‘ hostgator.com ’ into our browsers and visit this site, instead of having to type in a complex and difficult to remember string of numbers.  How Subdomains Relate to Domain Names One of the final aspects of a domain name is subdomains. These can get a little confusing, especially if it’s your first time building a website. Essentially, a subdomain is an additional part of your primary domain name. Subdomains are commonly used to help separate and organize certain parts of your website. A subdomain will come before your primary domain name, like the blog in ‘ blog.mysite.com .’ You can create as many subdomains as you like for your primary domain.  For example, you can access the support resources here at HostGator by navigating to ‘ support.hostgator.com .’ Subdomains are used for a variety of reasons, but here are some of the common reasons why you might create a subdomain : To sell eCommerce products. Since eCommerce stores require different levels of security and software than a standard website, you might use a subdomain to create a separate online store that’s still linked to your primary domain.  To separate your blog. A lot of startups and other online businesses keep their blogs on a subdomain. This allows you to use a separate CMS to manage content , that you might not have installed on your main website.  To create a site staging area. If you’re redesigning your site, you can create a subdomain that you can use to build your site on. Likewise, if you’re a developer, you can create separate subdomains as you’re building out client websites, so you can showcase your work as you build their sites.  To create a resource section. A lot of sites will create separate resource and support sections that are separate from the rest of their sites. If you’re creating a lot of content that serves a different purpose than a blog, or the rest of your website copy, then this can help you better structure the content.  URL vs. Domain: The Key Similarities A domain name is contained within a URL. Although the URL is the whole and a domain is just a part of it, there are some similarities that the two share. Here are the two most significant commonalities you’ll find between domains and URLs: 1. They’re Treated the Same By Your Web Browser Although a URL and a domain name have different technical definitions, they are treated the same way by your browser. For example, if you type in ‘ https://hostgator.com ’, it will send you to the same page as it would if you typed in simply ‘ hostgator.com .’ However, to access the site, you’ll need the TLD as well as the domain name, so regardless of which one you type in, you’ll arrive at ‘ https://www.hostgator.com/ .’  2. They’re Part of the Same Web Address A domain name is a singular aspect of a full URL. So, you could say they’re in the same family.  For example, when you tell a friend your house address, you’d probably say 1234 Highland Ave. From that information alone, your friend could infer the city, state, and zip code of your address. It’s not a perfect example, but a full URL contains the domain name within it.  The same goes for communicating the name of a website. When you’re telling someone the name of a website you’ll generally say the domain name and TLD, e.g.  ‘ bestpuppiesintheworld.com .’ You wouldn’t share the entire URL, including the https and the www , even though they both lead to the same place.  URL vs. Domain: The Key Differences Even though you might find that the terms URL and domain name are used interchangeably online, they aren’t the same thing. Here are the two main differences between a domain name and a URL. 1. A URL is a Complete Web Address A URL is a complete internet address which can locate a specific domain or an individual page on a given domain. It provides the web browser with all of the information necessary to identify and display a given page, resource, or piece of media, like an image.  A domain name, on the other hand, is a simpler form of a URL, and is used in place of a technical IP address. Its role is to make it easier to access a given website. Domain names are brandable and can also refer to a business name as well.  2. A URL Provides More Information A domain name is just a single aspect of a URL. Without the rest of the technical elements of a URL, a domain name isn’t incredibly valuable. For example, if you only type of the domain name into your web browser, you’ll end up doing a keyword search for that domain name. You can still access the site, but you’ll have to comb through the search results first.  A URL is the complete pathway and provides all of the information necessary to access a given website.  The Importance of Understanding the Differences Between URLs and Domains Hopefully, by now, you have a better understanding of domain names and URLs, how they’re related, and the differences they have.  Understanding how your website, URL, and domain name all work together might not seem like a big deal. But, this knowledge gives you power. It’s like knowing how to accomplish basic car-related tasks, such as changing your oil or replacing your windshield wiper blades, makes you feel like a more confident car owner (as it should).  The more you understand how your website and domain work together, the better you’ll be able to fix minor issues and ensure your site always remains online. You become more self-sufficient with your website, and don’t have to rely on support whenever you run into a small issue with your site.  For example, if your website isn’t showing up, then it might be an issue with your DNS records not pointing to the correct location. Or, you could have even spelled your domain wrong when adding it to your host.  Beyond general website troubleshooting having more in-depth knowledge about your website and how it works is always a good thing. Hopefully, you’re better equipped to choose a web hosting package, register new domains , add redirects, and even start playing around with subdomains. 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How to Filter Spam Bots in Google Analytics [Step by Step Guide]

The post How to Filter Spam Bots in Google Analytics [Step by Step Guide] appeared first on HostGator Blog . You know how valuable Google Analytics is and you’re ready to take all the insights it can offer to improve your website’s performance. But as you pull up the Acquisition data to see how people are finding your website, you notice some strange entries.  Chances are, this means that you’ve become a victim of spam bots. What Is Google Analytics Referral Spam? Spammers will do anything to drive more traffic to their websites. One of the tactics they’ve employed to this effect is finding ways to show up in Google Analytics, hoping that website owners will click on a site to see why it’s sending traffic their way. Google Analytics referral spam used to be much more common, but Google works hard to keep those spammy sites from showing up in your data. Nonetheless, many websites will still see some results in their Google Analytics data produced by spam bots. If you care about getting accurate data about your website’s performance—and you should, because it’s the only way to understand what’s working—then you need to filter spam bots in Google Analytics.  Here’s a handy guide on how to do just that.   How to Filter Spam Bots from Your Google Analytics Results There are two main types of filters you should set up to capture most referral spam from bots. For both, you have the same first few steps.  Getting Started 1. Keep an unfiltered view. When you make any technical change, you always want to have a backup. In Google Analytics, that means keeping an unfiltered view . This provides you with data you can use for comparison with the filtered results you get, to make sure they’re working. And it provides you with a view you can revert back to if one of your filters doesn’t work right. To do this, go to the Admin section in Google Analytics by clicking on the Gear icon in the bottom left corner. Click on View Settings in the third column.  Click on Copy View, then name your view Unfiltered , or something similar.   2. Click on Filters under the View column. With that done, go back to main Admin page by either clicking the back icon or the gear icon again. Click Filters in the View section (Note: this is different than All Filters in the Account section). 3. Click +Add Filter.  Click the red “+add filter” button. Then move onto the next section for the specific filters to create.  2 Google Analytics Filters to Set Up Valid Hostname Filter A valid hostname filter is the best way to filter out ghost spam. These are the spam bots that manage to ping your Google Analytics without ever actually visiting your website. Ghost spammers use automated scripts to send traffic to random websites, usually using a fake host. By telling Google Analytics how to recognize a valid host, this type of filter cuts the ghost spam from your analytics view.   1. Find your hostnames in Google Analytics.  A valid hostname is anywhere that you’ve legitimately set up Google Analytics tracking. That includes your website, most obviously, but also services like marketing tools you use and payment gateways. You can find a hostname report in Google Analytics in the Audience section by selecting Technology , then Network . Select Hostname as your Primary Dimension . Set your date range to go back at least a year. Scan the list to identify your valid hostnames. You should be able to recognize these as your own domain name, and any tools you use and knowingly allowed access to your Google Analytics tracking. Anything you don’t recognize or don’t manage yourself is probably spam.  If there’s an entry you’re not sure about, do some Googling. For example, Google Web Light isn’t something I manage directly, but it’s a service Google provides to load speedier pages on mobile devices with slow connections. That makes it legit.  2. Create a filter listing your hostnames. Back over in our Add Filter screen (scroll back up to the Getting Started section if you need a reminder), name the filter something like “Valid Hostnames.” Select Custom under Filter Types , Include in the list of bullets below that, and Hostname from the dropdown menu.  Under Filter Pattern, list all your valid hostnames in this format: yourdomain.com|hostname2|hostname3|hostname4  You want to fit all of your valid hostnames into one filter here—you can’t create more than one filter that includes hostnames.  3. Test your filter.  Before you click save, take a few seconds to test the filter out and make sure you configured it right. You can use the Verify Filter option right there on the page to run a basic test and see how the filter would affect your data for the past 7 days. Note that, if your website doesn’t currently get that many spam hits, 7 days might not be enough of a sample set to show a difference. Once you’re confident your filter is accurate, click Save .  Crawler Spam Filter The other main category of spam bots that show up in Google Analytics is crawler spam . These are bots that actually do visit your site. They leave a correct hostname, so won’t get caught in your valid hostname filter. Instead, you need to exclude these from your analytics.  1. Find the crawler spam in your analytics. To start, identify the crawler spam that shows up in your analytics now. In the Acquisition menu, choose All Traffic , then Referrals . Change your date range to include at least a year. Now browse the list of websites to look for any that appear to be spammy.  Some will look immediately suspicious. For example, display-your-ads-hereti.info jumps out in the list above as probably spam. But for anything you’re not sure about, do a Google search for “what is ” and you can usually get your answer for whether or not it’s spam. If the list here is long, it’s probably not worth your time to try and filter out every single spam bot, but if there are a main few sending a lot of fake traffic to your site, make note of them to include in your filter.   2. Look up common crawler spam lists. In addition to the spam examples you find in your own analytics, you can find pre-created filters that list many of the most common offenders on sites around the web (such as here and here ). These will cover many of the spam bots that may not have hit your website yet, but could.  3. Create a filter (or multiple filters) listing the crawler spam. Back in our Add Filter screen, name your filter something like “Referral Spam.” Choose Custom as your Filter type, click on the Exclude button, and select Campaign Source in the dropdown menu.  For the pre-created filters you find, you can simply copy-and-paste them into your Google Analytics. For any you manually create, use the same format you did for your hostname filter: Spamname|spamname2|spamname3 Since you have a limited number of characters you can use for each filter, you’ll likely be creating several different filters in this step. Be sure to give them each a unique name. 4. Test your filter. For each filter you create, take a minute to test it. If you’re satisfied it’s accurate, click Save . Filtering Spam Bots on a WordPress Site Setting up filters within Google Analytics can feel pretty complicated. But if you have Google Analytics set up for your WordPress website, you have an easier solution you can take advantage of: plugins.  There are a number of WordPress plugins devoted to blocking referral spam, including: Block Referrer Spam SpamReferrerBlock WP Block Referrer Spam Stop Referrer Spam You can block a significant amount of spam from your analytics simply by choosing one of these plugins, installing it to your WordPress site, and activating it.  If you’re not on WordPress now, but liking the idea of a simpler process for filtering spam bots, the first step to setting up a WordPress site is investing in WordPress hosting . Many aspects of designing, managing, and maintaining a website are easier with WordPress, so for website owners without extensive tech skills, it’s worth considering.  Google Analytics Spam Bots FAQs Those are the main steps you need to know to filter spam bots in your Google Analytics. But if you still have questions about Google Analytics spam bots, here are answers to some of the most common questions people wonder about.  1. How do I detect spam in Google Analytics? First things first, don’t click on the link! If you visit the website itself, the spammers are getting what they want from their shady tactics.  Instead, either do a search for the website in quotation marks, e.g. “99-reasons-for-seo.com” or a search like “what is 99-reaons-for-seo.com.” That will ensure Google doesn’t take you to the spammer’s website—the thing we’re trying to avoid here—and instead you’ll see results from other websites about it. If the website’s a known source for analytics spam, someone’s probably written about it.  2. Why does filtering spam from my Google Analytics results matter? Website analytics are a rich source of information about what your audience responds to. They can show you what your website gets right now, and reveal areas for improvement. And they’re your best way to track the success of your online marketing activities so you know what tactics are worth the investment. Referral spam clouds the accuracy of your analytics. It puts you at risk of misinterpreting the data you have, because the data itself isn’t accurate. You don’t want to spend time and money on tactics that aren’t working because a spam bot makes you think a particular page is more popular than it truly is with your audience. By cleaning up your data, spam bot filters ensure your analytics deliver insights that are more accurate and useful.  3. Can I clean past Google Analytics data? These filters will mean you get cleaner data moving forward, but they won’t be applied retroactively. Your historical data will still include inaccuracies caused by spam bots. But, seeing the comparison between your analytics before and after applying the filters can help you make an educated guess about how much of your traffic was due to bots. You can take that into account when analyzing the data you have to help you get closer to an accurate picture.    Gain Clarity by Skipping the Spam Google Analytics is one of the most valuable tools available to every website owner. While you can’t completely avoid spammers online (they have an obnoxious skill for being everywhere), you can control the influence they have on your website data. Applying the right filters and plugins to your website analytics will rob spammers of their power, and give you back the accuracy you need to build a stronger website for your audience.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog Continue reading

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How to Build Your WordPress Website [Step by Step Guide]

The post How to Build Your WordPress Website [Step by Step Guide] appeared first on HostGator Blog . You’ve decided to build a website. Whether you’re building a site for your physical business, a personal project or you’re gearing up to launch your own online business, then this post is for you. Luckily, you’re reading this today and not ten years ago. Technology and the internet move so fast, that once impossible or laborious tasks can be done in a single afternoon. The same can be said for building your website. Back in the old days of the web, before content management systems, and beginner-friendly website builders existed you’d have to code every aspect of your website yourself. If you didn’t possess the ability to code or didn’t want to learn, then you’d be out of luck. Unless you had the budget to pay a professional of course. But, today’s web is much different. Anyone with the desire to build a website can go from no website to a published website in a single day. Below you’ll learn everything that you’ll need in order to build your first website, including a variety of website building tools you can consider using. The most difficult thing you’ll face isn’t actually building your site but choosing which approach to take. 1. Choose the Right Platform Like we just mentioned you have a ton of different options for actually building your website. Choosing the right approach is important and might be one of the most time-intensive parts of the process. For example, you can build your site entirely from scratch, using languages like HTML, CSS, and more. You can use a website builder to drag and drop your way towards creating a basic website. Or, you can rely upon a CMS to provide you with a customizable framework to build your site from. The best options for beginners are using a website builder or an intuitive CMS like WordPress. If your plan is to build out a fairly basic website, then using a website builder will be the easiest course of action. Website builders are designed with complete beginners in mind. With these the process is simple: You pick a website builder Choose a payment plan for your site and traffic needs Add your domain Select a theme or template Customize your site Publish it live on the internet! If you’re going to take this approach, then consider using the HostGator website builder. If you’re already a HostGator customer and want to create a simple site, then this is a no-brainer. For those with more complex site requirements, then WordPress is the way to go. With WordPress, your customization options are nearly unlimited. Plus, it’s built to help you create content and get the most out of your site. Nearly every single host will let you quickly install WordPress in a couple of clicks. And even though it’s a more complex platform the learning curve is very small, making WordPress an ideal choice for beginners. For the sake of this walkthrough, we’re going to assume you went with WordPress as the CMS you’re going to use to build your site.   2. Secure Your Domain Name and Host In order to have any site live on the Internet, you’re going to need a domain name and host. Without a domain name there’s no way for people to access your site, and without a host, there’s no place to store the files that make up your website. There are ways to get a free domain name and hosting, like using a subdomain of a larger site, like “yoursite.wordpress.com”. However, this doesn’t look very professional, and you’ll have a hard time building a following without a professional domain name. Same goes for purchasing your own hosting. There are a ton of different options to choose from, but for those building their first sites, a basic shared hosting plan will suit you just fine. In time you may want to upgrade your package, but there’s no need to complicate things from the start. With shared hosting, you’re sharing server resources with other sites using the same server. This effectively spits costs between a ton of different users, so your monthly bill will be very low. Like anything online, there are multiple ways you can secure your domain name and hosting. You can spend time researching all your available options, or to keep things simple, just follow the process below. Here’s how you can purchase a shared hosting plan from HostGator. First, head over to this page and select your plan. On the next screen you’ll be asked to enter more information, and even have the option to add a domain name . Complete the steps, enter your payment information, and you’re all set. If you have an existing domain name, then you’ll have to point it towards your new host. You also have the option to purchase your domain name from another provider entirely. However, if you’re already purchasing hosting from HostGator it’s much easier to add a domain to your order.   3. Install Your CMS on Your Host With your hosting and domain name taken care of, it’s time to install WordPress. Most beginner hosts make this easy by including software that lets you install your CMS of choice with a few clicks. Instead of having to download your CMS yourself and upload it to yourself, this software will automate all of those technical tasks. To do this we’re going to need to access your server. If you went with a host like HostGator, then we’ll be doing this with a tool called cPanel. This software is installed on your server and makes it incredibly easy to manage your server environment. Here’s how to do it: First, log in to your server via your control panel. You should have been provided your login link, along with your username and password when you signed up. Next, locate a tool called ‘QuickInstall’. You’ll see that there are numerous other content management systems you can install, but for this tutorial, we’re going to be using WordPress. So, select ‘WordPress’, enter your relevant site details and click ‘Install’. Once the installer is finished WordPress will be installed on your site. Just a few more steps and your site will be ready for the world.   4. Choose Your Theme WordPress will form the foundation of your site. But, in order to make any customizations to how your site looks you’re going to need to install a WordPress theme. Essentially, a theme is a collection of files that determine how your site looks and functions. You can think of WordPress as the foundation and scaffolding for your house—it’s basic structure. While your theme is the color your home, your wood floors—what it looks like. Since the WordPress ecosystem is so large you’ll have thousands of different themes to choose from (and that’s just including the free themes). There are also premium themes that provide you with even greater functionality, features, support, and a lot more. Premium themes generally look and function better than paid themes, have higher-quality code, and have dedicated support teams behind them. The cool thing about WordPress is that you can switch up themes at any time. It won’t have any effect on your existing blog posts, pages, and other media. If you’ve done a lot of customizing it might not display properly, but your content isn’t going anywhere. Here’s how you can select and install a theme on your site: From the backend of your WordPress dashboard navigate to Appearance> Themes . Then click the button that says ‘Add New’. Here you’ll be able to browse the massive selection of free WordPress themes or even search for a theme. Once you’ve found a theme that you like hover over it and click ‘Install’, then ‘Activate’. Now you’ll be able to customize your theme to your liking. If you want to use a Premium theme, then the installation process will be a little different. First, you’ll need to purchase and download a theme. There are dozens of places you can purchase high-quality themes online, including: Elegant Themes StudioPress ThemeForest Once you purchase and download your theme you’ll have a .zip file that contains all of the theme’s files. Now, you’re going to upload this file to WordPress. Navigate to Appearance> Themes , then select ‘Add New’. On the next screen select ‘Upload Theme’, then either drag and drop or locate the .zip file on your computer. WordPress will then upload and install your theme, just click ‘Activate’ and you’re all set.   If you want to more features to your site, then you’ll be relying on the nearly endless library of WordPress plugins . There’s a wide variety of both free and premium plugins that can help you add whatever features you desire to your site. To install any plugins navigate to Plugins> Add New . Here you can browse by popular plugins, recommended plugins, or search for a plugin you’ve found online.   5. Customize Your Site By now you’ve gotten your domain name and hosting, installed WordPress, selected your theme, and maybe even installed a few plugins. Now is where the fun really begins—it’s time to customize your site. The first thing you’ll want to do is create a few necessary pages. Home page Contact page About page Blog page Depending on your site there are probably additional pages you’ll want to create as well, like a services page, resource page, or anything else really. Adding pages to your WordPress site is very easy. Once you’re in the backend of your site navigate to Pages> Add New . This will open up a screen where you can add a page to your site. Just add your title, text, any images, or media, then click ‘Publish’. If you want to add any blogs to your site, then you’ll be following a similar process. Click on Posts> Add New , and you’ll be taken to a screen that looks nearly identical to the page editor. Write your blog post and click ‘Publish’. The approach you take to customize your theme depends upon what theme you’re using. For example, your theme might have its own customization options which you’ll control from a different tab. If you’ve purchased a premium theme, then check the documentation that came with your theme to see how to make customizations. However, you’ll also be able to make general customizations by navigating to Appearance> Customize . On this screen, you’ll be able to do things like change your site’s color scheme, header elements, menus, general theme settings and a lot more.   6. Launch! Once you’re satisfied with how your site looks and functions it’s time to launch your site. If you’ve done everything above then your site should already be online! Just type in your URL to the browser and you should see your site live. If you want to build out your site without people being able to see it in an unfinished state, then you might want to use a coming soon, or maintenance mode plugin. To do this you can install a plugin like ‘Coming Soon Page & Maintenance Mode by SeedProd’. Head over to Plugins> Add New , then search for ‘coming soon seedpod’. Then, install a plugin that looks like the one below: Once you’ve activated the plugin head over to Settings> Coming Soon Page & Maintenance Mode , here you’ll be able to customize the appearance of your coming soon page. Then, when you’re ready to launch just make sure to disable the plugin.   Closing Thoughts Building your website isn’t as difficult as it once was. If you followed the steps above you’ll be on your way towards having a fully functional website live on the web. Note that there are multiple approaches you can take, some are easier than others. For example, if you’re already using HostGator hosting, then one of the simplest options will be using the bundled website builder. This tool is very straightforward and intuitive to use and is equipped with a variety of templates to suit your needs. For those looking to create a more robust website, then consider using WordPress. This widely used CMS is the foundation for a lot of the largest and highly-trafficked sites on the entire Internet. With its flexibility and ease of use, you can create whatever style of site you desire. The route you choose is up to you. Just make sure you take stock of your needs, current skills, and overall goals of your site before you choose the best approach for building out your site. Find the post on the HostGator Blog Continue reading

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What Is a Domain Name Registrar?

The post What Is a Domain Name Registrar? appeared first on HostGator Blog . Every website you visit online has a domain name, which means that every website owner went through the process of buying and registering that domain name. It’s one of the first necessary steps involved in starting a new website, along with getting web hosting and building out your site . And it’s a step that requires working with a domain registrar .   What Is a Domain Registrar? A domain registrar, sometimes called a DNS registrar (short for domain name server), is a business that sells domain names and handles the business of registering them. Domain names are the main address a website uses on the web—they’re the thing that usually starts with www and most often ends with .com. While technically, computers identify websites with a different sort of address—an IP address that’s a long string of numbers separated by periods (e.g.—humans wouldn’t be much good at remembering and using that kind of address. So for us, websites also have an address made up of alphanumeric letters, that usually spell out a word or brand name. And there’s a specific type of process behind how people claim domain names. There are registries that manage the different top-level domain s. The registries are large, centralized databases with information about which domain names have been claimed and by who. But the registries don’t sell the names directly, they delegate that job to DNS registrars. Registrars must be accredited by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Then, each time they sell a domain to a customer, they’re expected to register it with the appropriate registry by updating a record with your information.   Domain Registration FAQs For the most part, this process happens behind the scenes for website owners. Part of the service a good domain name registrar provides is making the process of finding, buying , and managing a domain (or multiple) simple and intuitive. You don’t have to know how the sausage is made, but if you’re curious to learn more, we’ve got the answers to the most common questions about domain name registrars. What is the role of a domain name registrar? The domain name registrar handles the process of updating the registry when a customer purchases a new domain name. As part of that, they keep track of which domain names are available and typically provide customers with an intuitive search tool to find out what options they have. They handle the financial transaction with the customer, and provide the tools needed to maintain the domain name subscription over time. You can’t buy a domain name outright, you can only rent it for up to ten years at a time. DNS registrars usually provide the option of annual renewals or multi-year subscriptions, sometimes offering a discount for registering the name for a longer period of time upfront. Domain registrars will often provide a user account where you can keep up with your domain registration status, and features like automatic renewal or email reminders. What is a domain registrant? That’s you! Well, assuming that you, the person reading this, is planning to buy a domain name or already has one. Once you take the step of selecting and purchasing a domain name from a domain registrar, you become the domain registrant. And the title will continue to apply for as long as you keep up your domain subscription. In most contexts though, people are more likely to call a “domain registrant” a domain owner , or a website owner once their site is up. What is a domain registry? A domain registry is the database that includes all the information about a specific top-level domain (TLD). The term is also sometimes used to refer to the organization that manages the database, as well as the database itself.    Domain registries have relationships with domain registrars, who submit domain name registration requests and record updates to them on behalf of customers. One of the biggest examples of a domain registry is Verisign , which manages the databases for several of the most common TLDs, including .com, .net, .gov, and .edu. What is private domain name registration? Part of the domain registration process includes providing the registrant’s information to the database of domain owners. In addition to the domain registries, the WHOIS directory tracks information on every website domain that’s registered, who owns it, and their main contact information. That’s because someone needs to be able to identify website owners who use their site for illegal purposes. But in our age of high-profile data breaches and growing concern around internet privacy issues, not every website owner wants to put their name and contact information out on the open web. And it shouldn’t be a requirement for running a website. Thanks to the private domain name registration options now offered by many DNS registrants, it’s not. Domain registrars usually charge a little more in order to shield you from having your own name and information included in the directory. They provide enough contact information to the WHOIS to keep you on the right side of the law, typically an email address associated with the registrant’s company, and keep the rest of it private. What is a domain name server? We talked earlier about how computers don’t use domain names to recognize website addresses, they use IP addresses. Domain name servers are the technology that translates between the two. The domain name system is the protocol established to ensure machines exchange the right data for the average internet viewer to see the correct webpage when they type a domain name into their browser or click on a link. Domain name servers play an important role in that system, storing all the information required to connect a specific domain name address to the correct IP address. Each time a computer queries a domain name server for a particular domain name, it finds the appropriate IP address to serve up. How do I register a new domain name? Now that we’ve covered much of the back-end technical stuff, you’re probably wondering how this all translates into what you, a would-be website owner, need to do to get the domain name that you want for your site. Luckily, the process for you is pretty easy. Start by finding a domain registrant you want to work with (more on how to do that in a bit). Most of them make it easy to search for available names, see the different top-level domain options you can consider, and go through the purchasing process. Provide your name, contact, and payment information through a secure form on the registrar’s website, and you should be set! How do I find an available domain name? This part can be trickier. With billions of websites already out there, all of them with a unique domain name, a lot of your options are already taken. Finding an available domain name that’s easy to remember and describes what your website does can take some work and creativity. Expect to spend some time using your domain registrar’s domain name search tool . Try out different variations on the names you have in mind. Consider synonyms and creative spellings. While a .com is usually the easiest option for visitors to remember, consider if you’re willing to go with another top-level domain like .website or .biz. The TLDs that aren’t as common will have more domain name options available. What is a top-level domain? A top-level domain is the last part of the domain that follows a period, such as .com or .net. ICANN controls which TLDs are available, and used to be pretty strict about opening up new ones. Early on, most specialty TLDs related to a specific industry, type of website, or geographic location. For example, .com was for commercial businesses, .gov for government websites, and .org for nonprofit websites. But as the internet has grown, the need for more available domain names has caused ICANN to lift the restrictions on how many TLDs are available, and who can use different ones. As such, when you do a domain name search on your chosen registrar’s website, you’ll see an array of TLD options at different price points. If the name you want isn’t available as a .com, you may be able to get it for cheaper at a .us or .site TLD address. How does domain name transfer work? When you choose a domain registrar to purchase your domain name with, you don’t have to make a long-term commitment to working with them. You have the option of switching over to a different registrar down the line, although you have to wait at least 60 days, due to an ICANN policy designed to reduce domain hijacking. If you’re past that sixty day point, you can transfer your domain name to a new provider by unlocking your domain name at your current registrar, disabling any other privacy protections such as WHOIS domain name privacy, and obtaining a domain authorization code from your current registrar. Once that’s done, follow the domain transfer steps provided by the new registrar you’re switching to. For HostGator, you can start the domain name transfer process here .    What to Look for in a Domain Registrar Now that you know all the ins and outs of what a domain registrar is and how domain registration works, you’re probably ready to find a good domain registrar and get started. You have a lot of different options. Some companies only provide domain registration services. Others, like HostGator, offer domain registration along with other services like web hosting, so you can take care of multiple basic website needs all under one account. With so many options to choose from, you need to know what to look for. Here are some of the most important factors to consider. 1. Pricing Some of the cost of registering a new domain name is related to the name you choose. In particular, different top-level domains come at different prices. But you’ll also see some variety in what different companies charge. When considering the pricing of different domain registrars, there are a couple of important things to keep in mind, First, the prices advertised are generally for a one-year time period, but you should check to be sure. A domain name isn’t a one-time purchase, you have to plan on continuing to pay for as long as you keep your website. You want to make sure you’re comparing apples to apples, and not putting one company’s one-year price against the price another advertises for a longer period. Also, it’s fairly normal for companies to advertise an introductory price that you pay for year one that goes up in the second year. Don’t just consider what you’re paying right now, think about what you can afford on an ongoing basis. And as with most things, sometimes a cheaper price will mean you pay in other ways, as with weaker customer service or a worse customer experience. Don’t just jump at the first low price you see without researching the company to find out if they’re cheap for a reason. 2. Reputation While domain name management doesn’t involve that much interaction with the company, you still want to choose a domain registrar that will be easy to work with and reliable. Spend some time reading customer reviews and doing general research on the company. Are they well known as a legitimate domain registrar? Do they have a reputation for solid customer service? Do people find the registration and renewal processes intuitive? Your domain name is an important part of running your website and maintaining it over time. You can always transfer your domain later, but you’ll be better off picking the right DNS registrar from day one. 3. Extras Most domain name registrars provide services beyond just domain name registration. It’s very common for registrars to also be web hosting providers, and bundling the two services can increase your ease of use for managing each. Other good add-ons to look for are: Domain name privacy, which helps you avoid spam and any risk that comes with making your personal information more public. Auto-renewals, which allow you to put the renewal process on autopilot so you don’t have to worry about forgetting or doing any extra work to keep your domain name registration up to date. Email addresses that you can set up for yourself and people in your organization at the domain, making your communications look more official. A multi-year purchase option, so you can secure your domain name for longer without worrying about renewal. If any of these are features you know you want, find a domain registrar that provides them. Register Your Domain Today As you know by now, HostGator is a domain name registrar that provides an intuitive domain name search function and easy registration process.   We offer domain name privacy, automatic renewals, and the option to buy your domain for up to three years at a time. And on top of all that, we’re one of the most respected web hosting providers in the industry. If you want the convenience of managing your web hosting and domain name registration in one place, you can count on HostGator to be a reliable option for both. If you’re ready to move forward and buy a new domain name, get started searching . 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4 Free or Inexpensive Resources to Help You Start Your Online Business

The post 4 Free or Inexpensive Resources to Help You Start Your Online Business appeared first on HostGator Blog . There’s a lot to learn before (and after) you start your own business, and if you don’t have a business degree or previous experience running an online business, your exciting plans can feel a bit overwhelming. So can sorting through all the advice and information out there for new and would-be business owners. To help you get off to a strong start on a small budget, here are some reliable free and low-cost resources to help you plan, launch, and grow your new business. 1. Mentoring from Experienced Professionals Want answers to specific business questions or insights from someone who’s been there and done that? SCORE is a nonprofit supported by the US Small Business Administration that provides free, confidential mentoring for entrepreneurs in person, online, and by phone. With more than 10,000 volunteers providing advice nationwide, the odds are good that you can connect with someone in your niche. You can enter your location on SCORE’s Find a Mentor page to see all the SCORE volunteer mentors near you, search for mentors by industry or keyword, and find the closest SCORE office. The SCORE website also has a resource library full of blog posts, webinars, podcasts, videos, and templates on thousands of topics. Some of the webinars charge a small fee but most of the resources are free.    2. Courses to Build Your Business Skills Khan Academy has a group of videos in its Careers section that feature different small business owners and freelancers talking about what they do, how much they earn, how they work, and how they got started. The range of careers covered is relatively small, but even if your niche isn’t included, there’s good advice on running a business in several of the presentations, and you can get an idea of all the tasks that go into being your own boss. If you’re ready to tackle business topics at the college level, check out OpenCourseWare from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The site provides free access to the materials for most of MIT’s undergraduate and graduate-level courses. You can search by academic department for classes on accounting, marketing, and other business topics. Or you can explore OpenCourseWare’s Entrepreneurship portal , which includes dozens of classes covering planning, pricing, finance and accounting, marketing, patents, sales, operations, and much more. The only catch? It’s up to you to download and work through the course materials on your own. Coursera also offers college-level instruction, and it provides graded assignments and feedback in courses from universities around the world. Unlike traditional distance-learning classes, Coursera courses don’t come with a traditional tuition price tag. Some courses can be audited for free, and if you want to earn a certificate or access all the course features, a subscription plan runs about $50 per month. One Coursera option for budding business owners is Michigan State University’s 6-course specialization program called How to Start Your Own Business , which is designed to walk students through the process of starting their own businesses as they launch it. The classes you may need will depend on the type of business you want to run. Planning an e-commerce business? OpenCourseWare’s undergrad-level Economics and E-Commerce course materials cover pricing, sales taxes, different types of e-commerce, advertising, and search. One recommendation from me: If you’re planning a service business like freelance design or writing, event planning, or repairs, it’s a good idea to learn as much as you can about negotiation before you begin, both to earn what you’re worth and to build good relationships with good clients. Becoming a good negotiator can help you in many areas of your business, from setting rates and writing bids to working with vendors and hammering out the fine print in contracts. Coursera offers more than 50 negotiation courses, and MIT OpenCourseWare offers materials for several negotiation classes from the Sloan School of Management’s curriculum. Whatever you decide to study now, remember that successful business owners are always learning. Free and low-cost courses are a low-stress way to keep up with trends and innovations in your niche. 3. Guidance for Building a User-Friendly eCommerce Website In late 2018, Google published its UX Playbook for Retail : Collection of best practices to delight your users. Google reviewed hundreds of retail sites to come up with its recommendations, and the result is probably the best free resource you’re going to find for learning what to include on your site and why to include it. The free-to-download playbook uses Sephora, Warby Parker, Boots, ThredUp and other best-in-class e-commerce sites to show you exactly what works for six key areas: the homepage or landing page, menus and navigation, search, products and categories, conversion, and forms. For each area, there are details on what to include and what to avoid, to help you create a site that looks professional and is frustration-free for shoppers. There are also charts showing the ease of implementation, impact, and key metrics to track for each suggestion in the playbook. Don’t let the playbook’s 108-page length discourage you from diving in. The guide’s design—lots of screenshots, checklists, and charts—makes it a fast, informative read you can consult as you plan each section of your site. 4. Easy Tools to Create Your Website DIY website design used to be reserved for hardy amateurs who enjoy coding and don’t mind spending time tinkering and consulting support forums. For the rest of us, website builders have opened up high-quality site design to anyone who can drag and drop. Site builders like Gator Website Builder make setting up a small business website or even an online store fast and easy by packaging everything you need to get started and making the design process a snap. For example, every Gator plan includes site hosting, domain name registration, an SSL certificate to protect your data and your customers, analytics to help you measure and improve your site’s performance, and support. You also get unlimited pages, storage, and bandwidth so there’s no limit to how much your site can grow as you add products, services, and testimonials from your best customers. You can also upgrade to Gator Premium for priority support or to Gator eCommerce for priority support plus online store functionality. Ready to get started? Choose your Gator Website Builder plan now . Find the post on the HostGator Blog Continue reading

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