If you’re setting up a website for the first time, it’s not uncommon to get confused between domain name registration and web hosting. We’ll discuss the difference between each below so you know exactly what to do to get your site online.
- What's a Domain Name, Web Address, and URL?
- Where Do You Buy a Domain Name?
- What's a Website?
- What's Web Hosting?
- How Does My Domain Name Connect to My Website?
- What Happens If I Want to Change My Hosting?
What’s a Domain Name, Web Address, and URL?
Your domain name is the name of your site, in our case, it's highlevelmarketing.com.
The domain name makes up a web address, where for most people it's adding “www.” to the front of any domain name. By adding “http://” to a web address in a browser, you now have the full URL of a website.
A domain name can be purchased by going to a domain name registrar. Domain names usually range from $10-$50/year, depending on the extension (aka domain suffix), meaning a ‘.ca’ can be more expensive than a ‘.com’.
Since there are millions of domain names that have already been registered, it can be difficult for anyone to find a good one that’s still available.
Friendly reminder #1: don’t add unnecessary words/dashes/weird spelling just to find an available domain.
Your domain name says a lot about you. People need to be able to remember it, so it has to be short, easy, and catchy. It’s a person’s first impression, so you need to make sure they feel confident that you’re a trustworthy search.
Where Do You Buy a Domain Name?
It’s important when purchasing your domain name to choose a reliable service that will be able to help you when anything happens to your domain, since they are the only ones with access to your website. We recommend the following domain name registrars which provide the best support and easy to use systems:
Friendly reminder #2: once you purchase a domain name, it doesn’t mean you own it forever – it needs to be renewed every year. Once a domain name expires, it can be difficult to regain ownership of it, in some cases, impossible (if someone else bought it already and refuses to sell it).
To avoid this, you can register a domain name upfront for a maximum of 10 years to avoid renewing it every year.
What’s a Website?
A website is a single or series of related pages that load after entering a web address on any Internet browser. In today’s world, it’s the single most important marketing material for any business. It’s the medium that your audience will experience your online content with.
What’s Web Hosting?
A domain is like your house address while web hosting is the actual house. The furniture that makes up your house to make living possible are called data files. This idea is presented clearer in this diagram from webhostingsecretrevealed.com:
In order for your website to appear on the Internet, all data files pertaining to your website need to be stored somewhere. This is where web hosting comes in. As the name suggests, a web host will host all of your website’s content and images (aka, data files) to access all over the Internet.
There are a variety of web hosts, so you’ll have to choose one that’s easiest for you to work with. Some plans will offer dedicated servers for your site and others will share the same server with other websites. Which web host is ‘best’ depends on your specific needs (how much traffic you anticipate, how much extra server space you want to leave for yourself, added security, etc.).
As we mentioned, there are different types of hosting to choose from. These include: shared, virtual private servers (VPS), dedicated servers, managed hosting, and cloud hosting.
At High Level Marketing, we provide web hosting, email, and a complete security package for all of our clients. It’s just one less thing for a small business owner to have to worry about. Before making any purchase other than a domain name, we recommend talking with a company like HLM to make sure you’re getting the best for your needs.
How Does My Domain Name Connect to My Website?
Once your domain, website, and hosting are all set, it’s time to bring them all together. Setting up your domain name will involve configuring your Domain Name System (DNS) records. This can be a very straightforward or complex task depending on which service you’ve chosen and how much support documentation they provide. In most cases, you’ll simply be updating the nameservers for your domain to point to the settings provided by your host provider.
You can have your email and website on different servers. Below is how you would setup your DNS in that case:
In order to properly point your domain name to your website, this involves retrieving your web host’s support documentation to guide you through the process. Generally, it will require you to do something along the lines of:
- Obtaining the IP address of your web host (you can probably find this in your welcome email).
- Once you get the address, there should be a DNS tab somewhere that will allow you to enter and save your IP address.
- Once you save your changes, a ‘connection’ will be made to connect your domain name to your website
- Or, in other instances, it will require updating the "nameservers" for a domain. This indicates where the DNS zone for the domain is hosted.
Often web hosts (as High Level Marketing often does) will instruct customers to update the nameservers for their domain so that they'll be using the preconfigured DNS zone they provide which helps customers avoid complex DNS configuration.
What Happens if I Want to Change My Hosting?
If you’ve purchased a domain name at one place, registered it at another, and wish to change hosting companies down the road, you’ll need your domain name login information. Once you're logged in, you’ll have to modify the DNS Settings (Domain Name System). This simple change will just tell your domain registrar that the URL you’re using is now being hosted by someone else. This process may take up to 24-48 hours to be live.
Friendly reminder #3: Before you modify your DNS, be mindful of your email addresses. Before you make any changes, consult with your web developer or IT department to make sure any changes won’t incur email loss. Since you set up an email with your domain registrar, you’ll have to set it up again with your hosting provider, so making sure everything stays intact is important.
The High Level Marketing Difference
Understanding the differences between domain names and web hosting is the very basic start of your venture.
That venture can be complicated, and to save yourself time and a headache, you can leave it up to our experts to successfully get you on the Internet.
Our difference is simple:
- we’ll create and find a unique domain name for you,
- host your website on our secure, in-house, dedicated server,
- build you an aesthetically pleasing, functional, and optimized website,
- and provide you with all the support services you need, when you need them.
Ready to get online? Contact High Level Marketing today.