Domain and hosting are basics if you are planning to set up and operate your first affiliate website, right? If your answer is yes, then you’ve come to the right place! In order for you to get your site up and running, there are two fundamental requirements that you need to take care of first. These are domain and hosting.
Don’t worry. I will explain these terms in simpler digestible portions so that you’ll be able to understand them.
So, what is a domain and hosting?
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In plain terms, the domain is your website’s distinct location. The domain’s name is its address, as well as, ID, such that your website can be identified and found in that vast worldwide web.
When an Internet user types in your domain name on the search bar of his or her Google or Internet Explorer (or any other browser for this matter), he or she is directed by the browser to your website’s exact location. But as you may guess, domain and hosting are connected.
The domain or domain name is, thus, unique and owned only by your affiliate site. Some examples of domain names are Amazon.com and Forbes.com.
You will notice that domain names have two components that are separated by a dot. These components are the main name and its extension.
In my previous domain examples, the main names are Amazon and Forbes while the extension for both is .com.
There are actually many other domain extensions out there such as .net or .org. All the three domain extensions that I’ve so far mentioned are called the original and generic top-level domains or ‘gTLD.’ These three extensions are the topmost in rank with .com being the number one and most commonly used domain extension for commercial websites.
The extension, .net, is commonly used by internet service providers while .org is normally adopted by institutions, groups, and organizations.
In your case, .com is still the best option for domain and hosting
So how does your affiliate website get a domain? Register your domain name with the ‘registrar.’
When you wish to start a business, you first need to have your business name registered. In the case of your affiliate website, you need to come up with a domain name and have it registered and bought from an accredited ‘registrar.’
This registrar, usually a company, will coordinate and manage the documentation and reservation of your domain name on the internet.
There are a lot of these ‘registrar’ companies on the web. Examples are Domain.com, GoDaddy.com, Namecheap.com, Domains.Google, and Name.com.
Since your domain needs to be unique, your registrar will check with the internet registry and ensure that your chosen domain name is not yet existing or registered.
Now, what is hosting?
Hosting is the storage place of all your documents, images, operational files, and other data that you need in order to populate and effectively run your affiliate website.
To illustrate, when you are working on a file in your computer and click on save, your file will be saved in a storage location of your computer, which is normally its hard drive.
This computer hard drive similarly functions like the hosting of your affiliate website. However, unlike your computer hard drive, which is not necessarily connected to the internet, the storage place or hosting of your affiliate website is linked to the web. This place is located in a powerful computer, called a server, or in a network infrastructure.
So, where do you obtain your hosting? You go to a web hosting service provider. I will go into details later in regard to these providers and the accompanying costs and service package plans that you can obtain from them.
Your domain registrar and hosting service provider can be the same company or two separate entities.
Some website owners prefer a simple set-up and choose to deal with one company. If you are that type, you may adopt this set-up.
Other affiliate website owners, however, opt to have one company managing their domain while another service provider acting as the website host. This may be applicable to you if you have your own preferred company for each function.
Whichever set-up you prefer, your audience won’t be able to tell the difference.
What domain name should you use?
Now that you understand what a domain is, you need to figure the best domain name for your affiliate website.
I’ve outlined some of the things you’ll need to think about when you decide on the best domain name for your website.
- Choose a domain name that is straightforward, understandable, and unforgettable.
Never use numbers, punctuations, and name misspells if you can help it.
Why? Let me answer that with two more questions. What is the purpose of having a domain? Isn’t it to enable your audience to identify and locate your website on that huge global web? Of course! Then, make it easy for them.
Take a look, for example at the following domain names. If you were asking for referrals on event organizers and were given these two names. Which, do you think, will you exactly remember and search on the web?
I believe it’s a no-brainer. As you grow your affiliate website, you’ll discover that your domain name plays a huge role in building and strengthening your brand recall and brand message. So, choose well, keep it simple, and build right.
- Which should it be: An EMD (Exact Match Domain) or A Brand?
When choosing your ideal domain name, you need to decide whether you want it to be the same as your generic search word/keyword or the same as your brand. The difference can be best understood by examples.
Examples of EMDs are mineralwater.com, highqualityshoes.com, thegoodcoffee.com.
If you type in ‘mineral water’ or ‘high quality shoes’ or ‘good coffee’ on the Google search bar, most likely these EMDs will rank very well. If the keywords corresponding to your EMD aren’t largely used in the market or if there is very little competition, most likely, you will obtain a lot of traffic in your site.
In 2013, exact match domain names were very popular because they ranked excellently high, and so, a lot of websites scramble to adopt these basic keyword names.
However, Google updated its algorithm just recently which caused a good number of sites to lose its ranking. There were rumors that circulated about Google treating EMDs as spammers, which is, of course, unfounded. So, if you use an EMD as your domain name, do not be discourage by such claim.
If you are not yet an established brand, an EMD is easy to remember and has a high probability of ranking well among generic searches.
Examples of brand domain names are evian.com, Nike.com, Twitter.com, or BMW.com.
If you’re thinking of expanding your product in the long run, using a brand as your domain name can provide the versatility you need. Why? A brand name does not necessarily have to be about just a single service or product. It can encompass a wide range of products and services.
Just like Nike.com, it includes a wide range of athletic sportswear, shoes, and complement products. If you decide in using your brand as domain name, you exude a certain level of authority in the industry.
It, thus, goes without saying that if you are thinking long-term, then this strategy is a good fit for you. You will, then, need to put in extra effort to strengthen your brand by having a custom-made logo or invest in effective marketing campaigns to build brand recall and equity.
What about a mix domain name?
I know I should have included this as a third option in my previous discussion but I feel that this merits a separate space because EMD and Brand as domain names are the usual options when deciding on the right fit for your affiliate website.
A mix domain name, on the other hand, is like a hybrid. It gets to do a bit of what each of the two types of domain names do (EMD and Brand). As far as I am concerned, I also do prefer this third option for beginners like you.
Let me illustrate with an example. Let’s say Todd is interested in creating an affiliate website about multimedia speakers. A mix domain name that has both Todd’s name and the keyword would be an excellent way to go such as ToddsMultimediaSpeakers.com or ToddSpeakerSystems.com.
Sometimes, the mix domain name is also the best especially if you venture into a highly saturated market and the best EMDs are already taken. To differentiate yourself, then, is to adopt your own brand and add it to the EMD.
For instance, if you want to create a trend website about digital technologies but your keywords have already been taken e.g. digitaltrends.com. To keep the keywords, you can still opt for Toddsdigitaltrends.com.
If you’re still in a quandary as to what to choose as your domain name, let your goals guide you. Also, having the ideal domain name for your affiliate website does not necessarily mean success or failure. There is still much to be done and you are only laying the foundation.
What is the best domain registrar for me?
There are a number of registrars from which to register and purchase a domain. As I mentioned earlier, the most popular are Domain.com, GoDaddy.com, Namecheap.com, Domains.Google, and Name.com.
From my own personal experiences, I have tried both Namecheap.com and GoDaddy.com. The latter offers you a lot of other products and may be a bit irritating. I registered my domain with them at a very cheap price at USD 0.99 per year but after the first year, they charged me more than twenty times the price, which was quite a shock. So, if you want a long-term relationship with our domain registrar, this may not be the best option for you.
Namecheap.com prices are, as they brand themselves, very affordable. They are more or less priced at USD 10 per year. The support and maintenance are also top-notch.
You may also want to try other popular registrars. Check out their rankings and compare prices.
What is the best hosting company for my affiliate website?
Choosing your hosting service provider, for me, is the more crucial decision. In your journey as an affiliate website owner, you will realize that there are a lot of important service features that you will need in order to operate effectively. I will go into that later.
There are 3 most known hosting providers you can feel free to start with:
As a newbie, you will be taking baby steps and start with having low traffic in your website. Consequently, the revenue that you will generate won’t be that big. For sustainability purposes, shared hosting would be your ideal option.
In the case of shared hosting, you rent a storage space and get basic email, Webpress platform, and ecommerce tools that you will need to run your young website.
Because it is very affordable, this type of hosting is expectedly less efficient than the more sophisticated options. Don’t worry. As you strive and money starts to pour in, you can always upgrade into a better hosting plan. This brings us to the next option.
Virtual hosting or VPS is a notch up from the previous hosting. It is not as sophisticated as the dedicated hosting, but with this option, you get to enjoy better speed and more services. With virtual hosting, you can now have as many affiliate websites under your account as much your bandwidth or visitor traffic can accommodate. When you grow, you can upgrade your domain and hosting to solid VPS.
Minimum price for this virtual hosting is USD 30. It can go as high as USD 100. The differences in the price points are accounted by the host you choose and the suite of services that they offer.
In my personal experience, I would recommend KnownHostVPS to you as I’ve dealt with them for a good number of years and am quite content with their services, especially their support, which is very important when you are just starting. Their email service response time also does not go beyond five minutes. I subscribed to their levels two and three while operating more than 15 affiliate websites all at the same time in my account.
Kinsta is also a good company to check out with your virtual hosting. After trying them, I’ve not shifted to any other company since. They have excellent speed, efficient hosting tools to help run your affiliate website, and a live chat support service that’s 24/7. If you are mostly targeting global markets, you may want to consider their free CDN as part of your package. This feature will enable your affiliate website to process faster. Remember, for organic searches, seconds matter a lot.
Just like all excellent hosting service plans, theirs is too expensive for small websites and when I say expensive, I mean USD 300 a month but you may need to keep an eye on them once you are able to build more traffic in affiliate website and generate sufficient income to sustain your expanding operations.
For beginners, this may not yet be a perfect fit. The prices are way expensive plus the range of services and support they offer may not be applicable to you. This type of hosting may be for many huge affiliate websites with the high visitor traffic. I am sure that you will never need this service for domain and hosting, no matter how big you can become.
My Personal Journey
I would like to talk about a community that I became a member of, which changed a lot for me in terms of building my knowledge in the business, expanding my network, and growing my business. This is the Wealthy Affiliate.
Becoming a member of this community cost me USD 49 a month which already includes website hosting service. As a young affiliate website owner, you may want to consider this as a home base from which to grow and network with similar affiliate marketers like you while learning from the trainings and seminars that are offered at an affordable price or, sometimes, free for the taking!
Just to give you an idea of what is in store once you become a member, I’ve outlined the following services that they offer.
Domain Registration and Management
Like I mentioned earlier during our discussion about domain registrars, GoDaddy.com offers its service at an annual rate of USD 0.99 which will jump to USD 20 a year on your next renewal. If you’re in for the long journey, you may feel cheated by this strategy. In Wealthy Affiliate, they offer their domain registration and management service for .com extensions at a flat price of USD 13.99. When I say the flat price, this means there are no incremental increases in rates as you renew every year.
Compared to other known hosting services such as HostGator.com and Bluehost.com, I can attest to the overall service quality and the rate of the premium package of Wealthy Affiliate. Here, they will enable you to operate until 25 domains with manageable traffic.
Unique Insights Integration
If you join the Wealthy Affiliate, you will have no need for additional caching plugin. As a result, your website gets to save on memory, resulting in a faster speed. They also provide a way for you to monitor your affiliate website’s performance.
Free SSL Certificates, Domain Privacy, and Email Addresses
Security is very important for an affiliate website.
This is something that should be one of your considerations in choosing your hosting service provider. Having the ‘https’ on your website address is now being ranked higher by Google because they signify a higher level of security and privacy for the users. With other service providers, this feature comes with a price. In the Wealthy Affiliate, you get it for free! They also provide you with limitless email addresses and email forward service for your affiliate websites.
Tools for Website Feedback and Comments
Once your business starts to build up visitor traffic, you may need to have a more efficient market engagement tools such as a feedback and comment platforms. These add to your credibility as an affiliate website while these platforms also provide you with perspectives about your market preferences, needs, and trends.
Keyword Search Tool
Wealthy Affiliate offers Jaaxy Lite for free to all its members. It is a keyword search tool that will prove very handy when you start filling up your website with content. Later on, you will discover that to constantly produce effective content, you need to polish up on your research skills.
Training after domain and hosting is done
Knowledge building is key to growing your affiliate website. One of the ways to do this is to keep learning. This community is a center for training with special focus on affiliate marketing. If you feel like investing in online training, I suggest that you try them. Here, not only do they provide free training, but they also have a good progressive training map which will help you along while you take those critical baby steps.
Excellent Support for your domain and hosting is crucial
Lastly, there is no substitute for good support system. In this community, you not only have similar individuals like you who are starting for support but also seasoned marketers who’ve travelled the same road as you do and are 24/7 available for consultation. For free? Yes. You can email them, send a private message, live chat, use a forum or personal blog to reach them and they are very patient with newbies like you. Of course, do not take my word for it. Just give it a try and see for yourself.
If, by chance, you find yourself confused with any of the features I’ve discussed, I urge you to check out their website and get a feel. You can start by availing of their free membership offer.
If not, you can always check my site for more tips on how to grow our affiliate website. Coming up very soon is how you can build your affiliate website. Watch out for it!