The Domain.com Blog

Blogging for a Living: Earning an Income from Your Blog

Blogging for a living … is it possible? Seems too good to be true, doesn’t it? That’s what I thought too, so I turned to our resident Marketing Guru, Bethany, who manages our Customer Lifecycle Marketing Program (CLM), and runs a kickass blog on the side.  Now, from 9am-5pm Bethany sits right next to me in the office, but once those office hours are over she focuses on her passion — running. Like most people, she thought it’d be nice to try and get a return on her investment in her passion, so she created a website and focuses on her blog. Her venture has paid off, literally. In addition to her regular income, her blog generates an additional revenue that continues to grow month after month. What does she know about blogging that the rest of us ought to? Person running steps. I sat down with Bethany last week to ask for her best blogging tips to help you not just start a blog, but earn an income from it, and she didn’t disappoint. Here’s what she said.  Blogging Tips to Earn an Income from Your Website and Blog Pick your niche or topic FIRST.Bethany’s blog focuses on her passion, running. Running is pretty popular so there’s a big audience for that topic. You need to make sure that your blog will have enough of an interested audience, too. If it doesn’t, you won’t be able to monetize it and earn that income. So before spending your precious time blogging about the anatomy and history of the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach, spend time researching your options and audience size. This means doing some light keyword and search volume research. Here are 10 free tools, courtesy of Ahrefs.com, that you can use for keyword research.  Bethany’s advice: Don’t let this step paralyze you. Too much research can quickly turn into “analysis paralysis.” Give yourself a time limit and commit to making a decision within that “time box” or timeframe. This way, you can move forward with your best idea and quickly. Get the right domain name for your website and blog.Your domain name is the first thing people will see and associate with your blog and digital presence. It should be memorable and brandable. You can choose to go with the always-popular .com, the topical .blog, or any other number of SLDs (that’s the part of the domain name that comes before the .com, .net, .blog, or whatever extension you use.)Bethany’s advice: If your goal is to do this professionally and earn an income, you’ll want to choose a website builder that allows for a great deal of customization. She recommends WordPress: It’s free, it’s flexible, there are plenty of amazing free (or paid) theme options, along with tons of plugins that will help you throughout your blogging journey. Pro tip: You can purchase a domain name and WordPress hosting with Domain.com!Manage your time wisely.When you’re starting your blog, time is going to be your biggest blocker. You must use your time wisely. That’s not to say you have to do everything perfectly the first time around, it just means you have to do something instead of overthinking or wasting time on non-essential tasks.Plan your content & generally speaking, plan 1-3 months out, but be willing to pivot (just not too often). Spend less time planning and more time executing. Bethany’s advice: Pick a time-management method that works for you. Some bloggers like the Pomodoro time management method, or hybrid versions of it, but even simple time-blocking can do the trick. (She works in 20 minute “bursts” — where she sets a timer for 20 minutes and focuses on one task during that time … no social media, no checking email, etc.) Editor’s note: We can attest, Bethany knows how to get things done!Test & Learn Mentality:When you decide to start a blog to earn an income, you’re deciding to embark on a journey to become an entrepreneur. This journey requires a growth mindset and a “test and learn” approach. Oftentimes, there won’t be an obvious right way to do things. Don’t get frustrated. Instead, you’ll need to test and find out what works for you and your blog.  Bethany’s advice: Things will probably go wrong before they go right, so be patient, be persistent, and stick to it for the long haul! Person typing at computer. Ready to start your blog and earn additional income? Starting a blog has never been easier.  With a little planning, time management, and a great domain name, your blog can thrive. You’re probably not going to start off earning revenue in the six digits, but little bit by little bit your blog will grow and so will your opportunities for making money from it.  Take Bethany’s advice and choose your topic wisely, give yourself time constraints for getting things done, and learn to be ok with testing and failure. It’ll make you wiser and help you learn what’s best for your blog.  Get your domain name today and launch your blog! Any questions? Let us know in the comments.  The post Blogging for a Living: Earning an Income from Your Blog appeared first on Domain.com | Blog.

Develop Your Word of Mouth Marketing Strategy

When I was a kid my father would tell me, “Never brag about yourself. If you excel at what you do, others will brag for you.” If you think about advertising, it’s a lot like bragging, isn’t it? Except, in this case, you’re paying to talk about yourself and get your differentiator in your audience’s face. Sometimes, prospective customers get tired of hearing us talk about ourselves and if that’s the case, what alternatives do we have?  Enter word of mouth marketing. If you don’t have a word of mouth strategy already defined, you’ll want to do that after reading this article.  Get a memorable domain name so others can easily remember it and share it with their friends. What is word of mouth marketing and why should I invest in it? You’re probably wondering, “What is word of mouth marketing and how can it help me brag less about myself while inspiring others to talk about my business?” Dear internet reader, we’re glad you asked.  Entrepreneur’s Small Business Encyclopedia defines word of mouth as: Jay Baer, of Convince & Convert, takes it further and breaks word of mouth down into two buckets: proactive and reactive. How does he define the two?  Reactive word of mouth: You can think of reactive word of mouth as similar to referrals. When someone is looking for a solution to their needs, they may ask their friends and family for a recommendation. Their family and friends react to their question by recommending a solution or business that they’ve used before and enjoyed.  Proactive word of mouth: Proactive word of mouth is generally unasked for. An example of proactive word of mouth is when someone is so happy with an experience or service they tell all their friends about it — even if their friends aren’t asking for those details and recommendations — they’re proactively sharing that experience or recommendation. Is one form of word of mouth, either proactive or reactive, better than the other? Both are great! Both will do wonders for your business. But if we had to rank them, we’d give the edge to proactive word of mouth. That’s because proactive word of mouth isn’t asked for — those people are willingly taking time out of their day to shout your praises and share your product just because they like you. When someone is that happy with your service, you know you’re doing something right.  Does word of mouth marketing make a difference to my bottom line? Developing a word of mouth strategy for your business can affect your bottom line in two ways. Saves you money on paid advertisingRemember, if you make your customers’ experiences great, they will brag for you and about you. (Subpar and good experiences won’t cut it. Work to impress.) This could lead to a reduction in how much you spend on traditional advertising. Brings in new business.In his study, Chatter Matters, Jay Baer discovered that “83% of Americans are more interested in purchasing a product or service when they’ve received a verbal recommendation from a friend or family member.” You need to kindle those conversations and make your business worth talking about! How do I increase word of mouth about my business? That’s a really good question, and we don’t blame you if you’re stumped. You can smile and thank every customer that walks in your door or visits your site, but that’s not enough. You can give them a good shopping experience, or a good website experience, yet that’s not enough either.  In order for people to talk about your business, they need a good reason. Better yet, they need a great reason. Pleasantries and run-of-the-mill good experiences aren’t noteworthy — they’re expected. Ready for some good news? You don’t need to deck your store or site out in wall-to-wall neon colors and pull outrageous stunts to get attention. All you need to do is create a “talk trigger.”  What’s a talk trigger?  Jay defines a talk trigger as “a strategic, operational differentiator that compels word of mouth, reliably creating customer chatter on an ongoing basis.” Your talk trigger should be something you do, not something you say, to set yourself apart and make yourself, specifically your business, a worthwhile topic of conversation.  In his book, Jay uses DoubleTree hotels by Hilton as an example of a business with a great talk trigger. Whenever someone checks into those hotels, they’re given a fresh chocolate chip cookie. What does this one action do for them in return? It gets about 25 thousand customers talking about their hotel on social media, in a positive light, per day. If you’ve ever found yourself talking about DoubleTree’s cookies, we hate to break it to you, but you were the walking talking advertisement for the hotel. And we bet you were happy to do it! What makes for a good talk trigger? To explain, Jay lays out the four Rs: Remarkable – Give them something worth talking about, and remarkable doesn’t necessarily mean BIG.Relevant – If it’s not relevant, it’s not memorable.Reasonable – You get a car! And you get a car! And you get a car! Doesn’t sound so reasonable now does it?Repeatable – Talk triggers don’t work if only one or two people talk about them. They must be repeatable.  Get a memorable domain name so others can easily remember it and share it with their friends. Can I create a word of mouth worthy experience on my website? We believe that you can, yes. However, in order to create a word of mouth worthy experience on your website, you’re going to have to cover your bases. Here are our some of our top recommendations to make your website worth talking about.  Design your site with your user’s experience in mind. How will they navigate your site? Are all the buttons visible and working on both desktop and mobile? Taking the time to work through these little kinks improves the end user experience, and will make them think more kindly of your site.Provide good content.Good content is what keeps people on your site. A lack of it won’t inspire conversation. Make sure you have the right hosting package.If you expect a lot of website traffic, don’t choose the skimpiest hosting package. The more traffic your website receives the more bandwidth you need to provide a seamless, glitch-free experience to your visitors.Know your audience. You can’t provide a relevant talk trigger (remember the 4 Rs?) if you don’t know your audience. Get to know what motivates them and what they enjoy, and you’ll find it easier to speak their language and market to them effectively.  What defines your word of mouth marketing strategy? Your word of mouth strategy will probably look a little different from your neighbors’ and your competitors’ strategies — and that’s ok! People don’t talk about things that are commonplace and mundane. So let your differences shine. Have you implemented any talk triggers or word of mouth strategies? We’d love to hear about what’s worked for you and what hasn’t. Let us know in the comments! The post Develop Your Word of Mouth Marketing Strategy appeared first on Domain.com | Blog.

Why Does .design Matter?

What do you think of when you hear the word “design?” No matter where you look, design is all around you. It’s central to everything — from the way we navigate a commute to work all the way to every aspect of the technology and software that we interact with. There’s no doubt that design informs everything that we see or experience. Many companies, cities, and individuals have made design their unique differentiator, thinking about and planning around details that others do not. Just one frustrating shopping cart experience online can remind us that successful modern companies have prioritized user experiences to survive and grow. More “traditional” designers might be folks working in graphics, web design, UX design, fashion design, landscape design, and others that wed the practical with the artistic. But “design” has become such a catch-all word that if often means that your services are intentional and easy to use. For example, a stay-at-home mommy blogger may consider herself a lifestyle designer, helping others navigate their own paths with intention and elegance. Given that design is so pervasive in our lives and such a powerful commercial differentiator, it should be no surprise that .design is one of the most widely used new domain extensions. It’s also obvious that the sites and brands using .design tend to hold themselves to a higher caliber, showcasing truly inspirational work and unique visions. .design is the home of creative studios, digital storefronts, freelancing professionals, and everyone in between. Why use a .design domain name when you could use something like .com? When the .design TLD was created in 2014, design was THE most popular word in .com domain names. Imagine taking a long, clunky domain name like DeesDaringDesign.com and turning that into DeesDaring.Design — it’s shorter, catchier, and makes the words on both sides of the dot work for you. Indeed, the .design makes your branding pop, using the dot to separate who you are (your chosen domain/brand name) and what you do (.design!). It looks great on resumes, business cards, and is the first building block for a professional and unique email address. Despite what you may have heard about a certain domain name being “king,” it’s not about what others are doing and using, it’s about having the most memorable, relevant domain name. And with .design being a newer domain extension, chances are, you’ll have better odds of scoring the exact name you want. Get your .design domain name today! Build your brand and showcase your talents with a .design domain name. Of course, .design is the perfect domain name for your online portfolio. Looking for a new career? Or perhaps you’re not actively looking, but want to keep your work public for potential opportunities? Use a .design domain name to display your accomplishments, what you’ve created, and what you’re capable of. But remember, when launching your portfolio, don’t make perfect the enemy of good. Sometimes, all you need is one great image or rendering with a professional .design email address to look credible. When beginning a career in design, people feel they need to show every project they’ve done, when in fact the best and most successful designers know that their work and their portfolios are all about curation and editing. A .design domain name may be the kick in the pants you need to create an engaging website. Sometimes just picking up the perfect domain name (before someone else does!) is the first bit of momentum you need. The word design lends itself to creative thinking and problem solving. What part of over-used stock images and blasé text is creative? What about that is inspiring? Using a .design name will challenge you to live up to your domain name’s and website’s potential. Starting with the right domain name and brand vision will inspire you to flesh your site out with thoughtful content and engaging copy. What are you waiting for?! Get your .design domain name today! Whether you’re a graphic designer, UX researcher, or work-from-anywhere blogger, a .design name may work for you. They’re catchy, they’re relevant, and they’ll challenge you to create the best-looking website around. Don’t wait too long though, .design domain names are catching on — in fact, it’s the only new domain extension “to have major adoption by household brands.” Major companies known for their smart design and marketing are showcasing it on .design, giving their design departments a platform and making themselves that much more prestigious. There are more than two dozen brands like airbnb.design, uber.design, and even tacobell.design leading the way! Take a page out of the big players’ books by posting interesting content on your .design site and building a community of your own dedicated followers. Design touches our lives in some way nearly every moment of every day, so you can imagine how vast the industry is. here is a sampling of professionals that would relate to and benefit from the .design TLD. Get your .design today! The post Why Does .design Matter? appeared first on Domain.com | Blog.

What is Good Website Content?

What keeps someone interested in your website? Is it the striking colors you chose to use in your design? Is it the fancy way your website scrolls? Probably not. Good content is what keeps your website visitors engaged and interested in your site. But, “good content” is a little vague, isn’t it? We think so, too. That’s why we’ve put together the following tips for you. Follow these tips and you’re on your way to creating good website content. It all starts with a great domain. Get yours today. What makes for good website content? Know your audience and their goals. When you create a website, you’re not creating it for yourself. Yes, you’ll reap the benefits of having a good website: increased visitors that translate into increased revenue, but that’s not quite the same. Your website exists to help your desired audience learn about you, or specifically, how your product or service helps them meet their goals or needs. If you do a good job of convincing them that you have what they need, they’re more likely to purchase from you.  If you aren’t sure who your audience is, or what they want, how can you ever market yourself and your site to them? You can’t. At least not well. Before writing content that you assume will attract people, do your homework. Take a look at your competitors and see how they’re positioning similar products. What’s your differentiator? Highlight it in your content and on your website. Clear, crisp copy. Have you ever read a sentence worded so poorly that it physically made your brain hurt? Or one that’s left you cross-eyed as you try to figure out what it’s trying to convey? Don’t be that person and don’t create that kind of content for your website. If your website content causes people to stumble and falter as they read, there’s an issue. So what can you do to make sure that your website content is legible and most importantly, easily understood? Write for the average reading level, unless your audience is more advanced (i.e., if your website provides resources for lawyers, let the legal jargon roll. If not, refrain from the difficult vocabulary and syntax.) Did you know that the National Adult Literacy Survey results suggest that the average American reads at the 7th to 8th grade level? By using a readability grading tool you can score your writing to make sure you’re writing isn’t too difficult, or easy, for your audience. For example, after Microsoft Word reviews the spelling and grammar in a document, it can provide you with your writing score on the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level and Flesch Reading Ease tests. You can then use this data to refine your writing.  Mixed media. Do you enjoy spending time on websites that have nothing to look at but text? No photos, no images, just endless text. Good website content isn’t restricted to blog posts and the written word. In addition to the text and writing on your website, consider using videos or other graphics to share your message and value proposition with your audience. Concise, understandable CTAs. What actions do you want visitors to take on your website? Is it completing a purchase, filling out a form, or donating money? Whatever you desire, make it obvious to your website visitors with a clear Call-to-Action (CTA). If they don’t know what they’re supposed to do, then chances are they may not do it. Your CTAs should focus on one action at a time — don’t ask someone to do three different things all from the same popup — they’ll never remember everything and they’ll be driven away by the volume of your requests. When writing a good CTA keep these three things in mind: make it concise, clear, and actionable. SEO optimized. Good website content is SEO optimized. In a nutshell, that means it’s written in a way that’s attractive to search engines, and of course, humans. If your content is disliked by humans (perhaps indicated by a high bounce rate on that certain page) then search engines won’t want to surface it in search results. Search engines are in the business of getting people the information they’re seeking — quickly, efficiently, and accurately. To write SEO optimized content, do some research around keywords. If you know what your desired audience is searching for, you know what words and terms to include in your website content. That should give you a little boost in search engine results. There are many free tools that can help you research your keywords, so don’t hesitate to use them. A custom domain name helps customers find you and builds your credibility. How do you know when you’ve created good content for your website? If your content is good, you should see an increase in traffic, an increase in conversions, and increased activity on your website. Good content is rewarded by search engines and website visitors alike. Search engines will rank good website content higher in search engine results, and website visitors will be more likely to follow your CTAs and complete the actions on your website that you want them to take. Go ahead and take a look at the website content you have now. Do a content audit to see what material you have that performs well and what is lackluster. Use an online readability tool to score your work to see if there’s anything you can change to better it, and then revisit it in a few months to gauge how well your content is performing. As you practice our five tips to create good website content, let us know how it goes! If you have any other suggestions, share them in the comments below. The post What is Good Website Content? appeared first on Domain.com | Blog.

Does My Brick-and-Mortar Business Need a Website?

How do people discover your business? Gone are the days when a copy of the bulky, softcover Yellow Pages would bring in the customers. Now, it’s as though your business doesn’t exist if you don’t have a website. People pick up their shiny cellphones and run online searches to find the business that fits their needs instead of flipping through musty old phone books and directories. Recently, I moved. It wasn’t a huge move, but it was far enough away from my old surroundings that I wasn’t sure what businesses existed in my new town. After what felt like years of hauling a never-ending stream of boxes down multiple flights of stairs, I arrived at my new place — and I was starving. I like supporting local businesses, so I located my phone amidst a jumble of papers and used Google to find some nearby restaurants to sate my hunger. What was so special about what I did? Absolutely nothing. In fact, according to SEO Tribunal, Google receives over 63,000 searches per second on any given day. Even a small sliver of that traffic could do wonders for your business.  Your website needs a domain name. We can help. Does having a website guarantee that my business shows up first in search results?  First off, if you don’t have a website you won’t be showing up in any search results. Secondly, your website has to be good. Search engines don’t reward bad websites with better placement in search results.  Creating a good website that performs well and captures customer attention is a lot easier than it used to be with the advent of website builders. Website builders, like ours, help you create a good-looking, sensible website in a short amount of time. They provide a large selection of customizable templates for you to choose from; then, you click on the item you want (photo placeholder, text box, etc.), drag it where you’d like for it to appear on your website, and drop it in place. You can customize those elements with your own wording, photos, videos, and more. Search engines favor websites with good, informative content. If your website isn’t appealing to customers, or doesn’t answer their questions, it won’t appeal to search engines either.  Do I need a website if I don’t sell products or services online? Yes! Not selling products online is no excuse to forego a website. Think of your website as the digital face of your physical location. You always want to put your best face forward because you never know who’ll see it.  Your customers, and potential customers, expect you to have a website as well. If they find you don’t have one, they’ll wonder why that is and could question whether or not you’re a legitimate business. Your website is a goldmine of marketing opportunities. On social media, you can’t control the conversation about your business. People can comment, like, react, or otherwise change your business narrative. But this isn’t the case on your website. On your site, you position your products and services (even if you don’t do e-commerce) exactly as you see fit, and tell your story the way it should be told. You can even derive insights from the actions your visitors take on your site — what are they clicking on? How far down are they scrolling on the page? And so much more! Apply these insights to refine your messaging, your marketing, all the way down to your products and business M.O., if applicable.  If you’d like to continue building a relationship with your site visitors after they’ve left your site, consider email marketing. Email marketing is a small investment of your time for a big return ($38 return for every $1 spent.) You’ll need to include an email marketing sign-up list on your website, but any good email marketing provider will give you premade options you can quickly add to your site.  How do I start creating a website? Good question! It all starts with a great domain name. You can think of your domain name as your website’s unique name and address. It distinguishes your website from all the others out there. Your domain name should reflect your business, and if possible, match your business name. If you can’t find an available domain name to register, consider purchasing a premium domain name to really solidify your brand.  Got your domain name? Good, let’s continue. Plan your website, then create.  It’s a smart idea to plan out how you think your website will be used, what pages should be included, and how to leverage content on your site. What you put on your site should be intentional and serve a purpose, whether that be to inform your customers or drive purchases.  Before creating your website, ask yourself the following questions.  How many people do I expect to visit my website each day?The amount of website traffic you expect to receive will influence what type of web hosting you need. Website hosting is where all the data and files that comprise your website live. It’s also what allows you to publish your website on the internet, thereby allowing people to find and visit it. You know how retail stores have a back room to store inventory for when it’s needed, and also a shop to handle customer foot traffic? Hosting is a lot like that, but digital.What actions do I want people to take on my site?Are you trying to drive purchase volume? Or provide educational content? When you’re creating a website you’re designing an experience for your site visitors, and the actions they take on your site should benefit your business.What should visitors see when they land on my site?Should they be greeted with your sale of the day? Your bright, beautiful face? Or an informative landing page? Again, think about what actions you want your site visitors to take, and about whether or not their first impression of your site will help lead them to that action.Am I providing them with a way to reach me if they have questions?You can provide all the relevant and pertinent information about your business that you want, but someone is still going to have questions. That someone may be your most valuable customer. If they have a question and need to get in touch with you, they should be able to easily and quickly find your contact information. A “Contact Us” page on your site should suffice.  So that’s it then, my brick-and-mortar needs a website? The bottom line is, yes, you really do need a website.  Creating a website for your brick-and-mortar business is a lot quicker and easier than it used to be. You can use a tool like WebsiteBuilder to create a site that reflects your business in the best light possible, and you can do it in less than an afternoon. However, remember that planning is half the battle in website creation. If you go into creating your website with clearly defined goals, you’ll have an easier time deciding where things should go and what information should be displayed. Your website will be the gift that keeps on giving — from visitor insights, to marketing opportunities, to new customers — so what are you waiting for? Get the perfect domain name today. You’re not on your own, Domain.com is here to help. Need an extra hand when creating a website? Or do you have some lingering questions? We’ve got you covered. Our teams are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you’re in need of assistance.  The post Does My Brick-and-Mortar Business Need a Website? appeared first on Domain.com | Blog.

A Guide to SEO Basics for Beginners

SEO: just another buzzword? If that’s what you’re thinking, we’re delighted to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. If you have a website, you’ve likely heard of SEO, and with good reason — it isn’t going anywhere. Understanding and implementing SEO fundamentals directly contributes to increased digital and business success, so it’s time you learned what SEO means and how it works. In this guide, we’re covering the SEO basics you need to know to help optimize your website. We’ll discuss: What is SEO?Why does SEO matter? How will SEO help me?The anatomy of a SERP. How to track your progress.Simple SEO strategies you can start today.What not to do with SEO.Where can I learn more on SEO? Let’s jump in, shall we? What does SEO mean? SEO is an abbreviation that stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO is the practice of positively influencing your search engine result rankings, thereby increasing the quantity and quality of your website traffic. To put it simply, SEO gets your website in front of more people on search engines (like Google, Bing, or DuckDuckGo) without needing to pay for ads. Although search engine optimization sounds like you’d be making changes to the search engines themselves, the enhancements you’ll be making will be to your website, blog, or content. Why does SEO matter, does it affect my business? Need more convincing as to why you should implement a SEO strategy? Consider these facts gathered from Search Engine Journal: 91.5 percent: The average traffic share generated by the sites listed on the first Google search results page.51 percent of all website traffic comes from organic search, 10 percent from paid search, 5 percent for social, and 34 percent from all other sources. Over half of all website traffic comes from organic search — this is website traffic you AREN’T paying for, so refining your SEO strategy can save you money.4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information.~2 trillion: The estimated number of searches Google is handling per year worldwide. That breaks down to 63,000 searches per second; 3.8 million searches per minute; 228 million searches per hour; 5.5 billion searches per day; and 167 billion searches per month.~20: The number of times SEO has more traffic opportunity than PPC (Pay-Per-Click) on both mobile and desktop. Does SEO affect your business? Without question, yes. But exactly how much it affects your business is up to you. If you don’t do anything to optimize and edit your website and content for SEO then it can’t work for you. But if you take a few minutes to optimize your website, you’ll reap the benefits of SEO — an increase in the quantity and quality of traffic to your site due to improved search result rankings. SEO is uniquely different from other forms of digital marketing in that, with SEO, people are already searching for you. They need your services or products and they’re going to a search engine to figure out where they can get them. With SEO, you aren’t paying for ads in an attempt to woo fickle prospects back to your site — these people are already interested in what you’re selling, so help them find you by implementing an SEO strategy before your competitor does. The anatomy of a SERP What happens after you click “Search” on a search engine? You’re taken to the SERP, or Search Engine Results Page. (We’ve pulled the following SERP examples from Google because they dominate the search engine market worldwide with a 90.46% market share.) Depending on your search terms your SERP could include different types of results; however, there are some components on the results page that don’t change. Here’s what’s always included: Paid Ads (or PPC, Pay Per Click): These results appear first because the businesses they advertise have paid money for their top placements.Organic Search Results: Organic, or owned, search results aren’t paid for; instead, these results appear further up or down on the page depending on how well they’re optimized for SEO. Both paid and organic results can also display as: Basic search resultsThese results display as links with metadata (the description under the URL.) Basic results don’t include images, graphs, or shopping suggestions on the main SERP. Pro tip: If you do decide to pay for ads, avoid clicking on those search results yourself. You’ll cost yourself money since you’re charged per click on those results. Enriched search resultsThis is the most common SERP you’ll see, although it won’t always look the same. Enriched search results can include paid ads, organic results, sponsored links, local packs (local businesses that meet your search criteria), product carousels, and more. Google is always making updates and changes to its SEO algorithms to display the most relevant search results, so enriched search results won’t always show the same things.   If you click on a local search result it will take you to a page where you can find out more about those businesses. It looks like this: Pro tip: If you have a business, claim your “Google My Business” listing so you can control and edit information displayed about your business. “Add missing information” isn’t a good look when trying to attract visitors to your site. Before we continue, when was the last time you performed an online search to see how your business or website ranks? If you haven’t done that in a while, we recommend doing so. It’s a good idea to know where you stand in search rankings so you can better gauge your SEO efforts and improvements. Can I measure my SEO efforts? You certainly can! And with Google Search Console — it’s free. Google Search Console gives you deep insight into your website. You can discover how people are getting to your site — where they’re coming from, what device they’re using — and what the most popular, or heavily trafficked, pages of your website are. The Search Console allows you to submit your sitemap or individual URLs for search engine crawling, alerts you to issues with your site, and more. If you haven’t used it before, don’t fret. Click this link to get to the Search Console. Then, click “Start now.” On the next page you’ll need to input your Domain(s) and/or URL Prefix(es.) If you choose the Domain option, you will have to verify your pages using DNS to prove that you’re the owner of the domain and all its subdomains.Verifying your site and pages is for your security. Google Search Console provides great insight into your website and that’s information only you should have. By requiring verification, Google ensures a competitor won’t have access to your website data. If you choose the URL Prefixes method, you’ll have a few options to verify your account; you can upload an HTML file (a bit more advanced, and requires access to a site’s root directory), or if you already have Google Analytics set up you can verify your site on Search Console that way. This beginner’s guide to Google Search Console by Moz walks you through all the ways you can verify your site. What SEO tactics can I implement now? Here are three ways you can vastly improve your SEO. Write good contentGood content pays off when it comes to search engine results rankings. What makes for good content?It’s linkable. Search engines like content that can be linked to from other pages. If you create content, but have it gated (i.e. – you can only access it once you’re logged in or completed a similar action) then search engines won’t rank it as highly. They’re in the business of providing information to those who are seeking it, so make your content discoverable and linkable.Aim for at least 1000 words. Search engines reward robust content, so that 300-word blog post you’re hoping rises to the top of the search results? — that needs to be fleshed out, and with relevant, valuable content.Valuable, informative content drives demand. Search engines reward in-demand content with improved search result rankings. So if all you’ve done is write 1000+ words that no one cares to read, and doesn’t address your audience’s needs, you’ve wasted your time as it won’t rank highly in. You can figure out what your audience wants to know and what’s in demand by looking at keyword research. Use WordPress? There are many free SEO tools and plugins that can help you and provide suggestions as you work, like Yoast or ThirstyAffiliates. Keyword researchWhy is keyword research important? If you know what your desired audience is searching for, you know what words and terms to include in your content — thereby giving yourself a boost in results ranking. There are a variety of free tools that exist to help you identify trending keywords, like Google Trends. This tool allows you to search keywords and terms (and compare them against one another) to discover how well-searched those terms are. This information can influence what keywords you use in your content. If there’s a term that’s searched a lot and relates to your content, use it. Here’s a list of 10 free keyword research tools put together by Ahref, many of which provide an even deeper level of insight into the keywords you should use.On-page SEOMoz describes On-page SEO as “… the practice of optimizing individual web pages in order to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines.” So what are the optimizable components of your individual webpages? Content, which we touched upon earlier.Title Tag Title tags are important because they dictate the display title on SERPs (search engine results pages). It’s likely the first thing people will see when they scan their search results, so a good title tag can draw them in and get them to click on the result. Trying to write a good title tag? Avoid ALL CAPS, don’t stuff as many keywords as possible into it, and keep it under 60 characters. Some characters take up more space than others, so you can use free title tag preview tools to help visualize what your title tag will really look like. URL structureIt’s easy to make sure your URLs are working for you on search engines instead of against you. How’s that? Make sure your URLs display page hierarchy. By doing so, your URL is easily read by search engines and explains where the content or page can be found on your site. What does a good URL look like?www.domain.com/domains/transfer and here’s the breakdown of the page hierarchy: Now, imagine if the URL listed above looked something like “www.domain.com/int489/trans74087.” What does that tell the search engines? Not a whole lot, and definitely not where the page resides on your site. For more information on On-page SEO ranking factors, take a look here. What should I avoid when getting started with SEO? For every piece of good SEO advice out there, there are a few bad pieces floating around. No matter whose friend’s cousin’s uncle tells you it’s a good idea, avoid the following practices. Keyword stuffingSearch engines are constantly improving and refining their algorithms to make sure the most valuable content is surfaced first. You can’t fool them by stuffing your content full of keywords and calling it a day. Duplicate contentWhen the same piece of content appears on the internet in various places using different URLs, it’s considered duplicate content. It may seem like having your content available in more places, with different URLs, is a good idea — more ways for people to find you, right? — it isn’t. Duplicate content confuses search engines. Which URL is the primary or correct one for the content? Should they split the results and show half the searchers one URL and the other half another? What page, or URL, ends up getting the credit for the traffic? Instead of dealing with all of that, chances are you’ll suffer a loss of traffic because the search engine won’t surface all of the duplicates. Writing for search engines instead of peopleSearch engines are in the business of getting the correct and best information to the people who need it, or search for it. If you’re writing choppy, keyword-stuffed sentences they’ll be pretty painful for a human to read, so they won’t. If you don’t have people reading or interested in your content, there’s no demand. No demand = poor search result rankings. Thin contentYou should never create content for the sake of creating content. Make sure it’s quality content — relevant to your audience and at least 1000 words long — so search engines are more likely to surface it higher on SERPs. Where can I learn more about SEO? This introduction to SEO serves to get you acquainted with search engine optimization and lay down the groundwork, but don’t forget, the more you invest in SEO the better off your website will be. Once you’re familiar with the topics we’ve discussed here, challenge yourself to take it to the next level with these topics. White Hat vs. Black Hat SEO You know how in movies the bad guys are normally in dark, depressed colors while the good guys wear bright, or white colors? You can think of white hat and black hat SEO in the same way. Black hat SEO tactics may seem to pay off at first, but just like with bad guys, what you do will come back to haunt you (like getting blacklisted from search engines!) Google, for instance, is constantly updating and refining its search algorithms. If it notices questionable behavior (like keyword stuffing) they’ll penalize those behaviors in their updates — so that “hack” you discovered that allows you to rank on page 1 of search results? That won’t work once the algorithm is changed, and you’ll lose your authority. Good SEO habits, or white hat SEO, won’t put you at risk of being penalized by search engines, so your authority will continue to climb. Off-page SEO Unlike on-page SEO, off-page SEO (or off-site SEO) consists of tactics to improve your search engine result rankings that aren’t done on your site. There are a variety of things you can do, but link-building is the most well-known. The more links that exist to your site and content, the better (within reason, if you spam every website you can think of with your links in comments that’s not ok.) Link building happens a variety of ways; naturally, when someone finds your content to be relevant and links to it in one of their posts or pages, manually, when you deliberately work to increase the number of links that exist for your site, say by asking clients or associates to link to your content, and self-created. Self-created links, including links to your site or content on random social media posts and blog comments, can be good in moderation. Too many spammy posts or comments ventures into black hat SEO territory, so tread carefully. Putting it all together If you work on improving your SEO tactics, your website and business will thank you. A good SEO strategy increases the likelihood of your content and pages displaying higher in search engine results. When your content shows up sooner in search results you get more website traffic and better quality website traffic, after all, those are people already searching for what you have to offer. As you dive into SEO, remember to take stock of where your pages and content show up in SERPs today so you can gauge your progress and SEO results tomorrow. Use this introduction to SEO to help you write better content, create informative URL structures, and understand the SEO tactics to avoid. The post A Guide to SEO Basics for Beginners appeared first on Domain.com | Blog.

6 Reasons Your Business Needs Social Media and How to Get Started

Does every business need a social media presence? With few exceptions, yes. In order to succeed and thrive in today’s digital-first world, you need to have active social media profiles. Despite all the negative attention Facebook has received in the news lately, Snap’s struggling stock price, and Pinterest’s recent filtering controversy, social media isn’t going anywhere. There are roughly 14,449,000,000 active profiles (that’s right, OVER 14 BILLION) across the top 20 social media networks — that’s a huge potential audience for your business. Today, we’re diving into 6 of the most important reasons why you need social media for your business. Then, we’ll explore some approachable ways to get started with, or “re-light”, your social media accounts. It all starts with a great domain. Get yours from Domain.com. 6 reasons your business needs social media 1.     Establish Authority & Increase Business Reputation Your social media profiles exist to make your business look good. They increase people’s faith in you as a possible solution to their needs. Use your profiles to share content from your website, industry news, and other materials that prove to your audience that a) you know what you’re talking about and b) you’re a trusted resource. Depending on your business, you may find that sharing news and content on Facebook or Instagram suffices, but don’t rule out other platforms like Quora or Reddit just because they don’t make the news as often. All platforms have loyal, active users — you just need to figure out which platform(s) your customers use. By sharing content and advice you can “win over” these users and hopefully, convert them into customers. As an added bonus, social media users can re-share your content which further increases your reach and authority. 2.     Audience Discovery Have you gone through an exercise to determine what your ideal customer looks like? If not, you should — like, yesterday. Identifying your ideal customer to create a customer persona will help you to refine your marketing messages and successfully sell to your prospects. You can use social media to give insight to your ideal customer persona. Search keywords, hashtags, and other tidbits relevant to your business and look at the people who are talking about those things and engaging with them. -What motivates them? -What concerns them and gets them talking? -What types of posts do they share? These are some questions you should be asking as you review your intended social media audience. At the heart of the matter is this: Understanding your audience and customers is the key to providing them with the best experience and winning them over … for life. 3.     Customer Service & Relationship Building Consumers aren’t willing to pick up a phone and wait on hold for answers to their questions and concerns. What do they do instead? Take to social media to ask for help or air their grievances. And if you aren’t there to respond, it’s not a good look. You can use social media to capture and address these concerns and posts, both to save face for your business and most importantly, help your customer. If your customers need to share sensitive information for you to best assist them, then nicely direct them to contact you via other means or take the conversation private, and explain why you need to do that. No one likes to feel like they’re being ignored or hushed, and you don’t want your customers thinking that you’re trying to hide any negativity from the public eye. By providing timely, good service and being there for your customers you’ll build your relationships with them. In fact, American Express states that, “US consumers say they’re willing to spend 17% more to do business with companies that deliver excellent service … [and] Millennials are willing to spend the most for great care (21% additional.)” Any wild guesses as to where you’ll find many a millennial? That’s right, social media. 4.     Competitor Analysis and Business Intelligence We’re going to bet that at some point in your childhood you briefly entertained becoming a spy. Perhaps your idols were James Bond or Harriet the Spy, but as you grew older, your interests changed. Well, here’s your chance to put your sleuthing skills to work. Social media can be used to “spy” on your competitors. -What products are they promoting? -How do they position their services or offerings? -What content did they share that got the most likes? -Have they posted anything that received any negative reactions? These insights will prove valuable to your business. You can use this info to refine your messaging, understand your differentiators, and position your products for the right audience. Not sure who your competitors are? Try searching keywords relevant to your business on the different social media platforms to see who the biggest players are in those conversations. 5.     Free Marketing A lot of digital marketing platforms are pay-to-play. Now, this can hold true for social media (most platforms offer a paid advertising option) but it is not the rule. Organic, or unpaid social media posts, can bring qualified traffic to your website. The content and links you share on social media should largely lead people back to your site. As more people interact with and like those posts, their reach will increase and they’ll be shown to more people. That increases the chances of more people making it to your website where they’ll (hopefully) get sucked in with your great products, on-point messaging, and then convert into paying customers. Many small businesses and fledgling business endeavors are tight on marketing funds, so free is always a win. 6.     Boost your SEO Depending on who you ask, you’ll receive different answers regarding just how much social media affects SEO, search engine optimization. However, one thing we can all agree on is that yes, it does affect SEO in some capacity. To get to the bottom of the matter, the team at Hootsuite conducted an experiment with their blog posts to determine social media’s effect on SEO. What were their findings? “…There is an indirect relationship between social media and SEO. That is, content that performs well on social will likely earn more backlinks, which helps boost search rank.” Go ahead and share your content and keep an eye on what performs well on social media. Those posts may just see an SEO boost, too. Now you know that your business really and truly needs a social media presence, but do you know where and how to get started? There are quite a few social media platforms out there and learning to navigate them all can be overwhelming. Tips for getting started on social media Here’s a collection of tips that our social media marketing manager put together to help you navigate any murky social media waters. Quality, not quantity. Don’t spread yourself thin by creating accounts on every single social media platform that exists. Start with one or two, and remain open to changing platforms in the future. As an example, if you run a fashion boutique, bakery, or other business that lends itself well to visuals, you’ll probably want to be on Instagram. Put some thought into your audience and desired customers — what platforms do you think they’re on? You should be there, too. “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” -Benjamin FranklinApproach social media with a plan. Take into consideration any existing time constraints you may have, what content you’d like to share, and your ideal posting frequency. Do some research into social media customer service so you have an idea as to how to handle any interactions your customers initiate on social media. (There’s nothing like dealing with an irate customer on social media when you’re utterly unprepared for it.) Remember, what happens on social media ISN’T private — you’re on a stage for the whole world to see. Manual versus automated posting.It’s difficult to stop whatever you’re doing multiple times a day to source content and post it to social media. While it may only take a few minutes to find the material and post it, it can take a whole lot longer to regain the focus you lost when you were interrupted. Consider using an automated tool that allows you to schedule your content and posts far in advance. There are many tools on the market today and a lot of them offer free plans for small businesses and those just getting started. Some social media platforms, like Facebook, allow you to schedule posts natively, or within the platform itself. Automated alerts.Time is money. Have you ever caught yourself going online or checking social media for a specific reason, only to find yourself down a rabbit hole an hour later with no accounting for your time? Resist the temptation and avoid the distractions by setting up automated alerts. You can set up alerts to notify you when your business is mentioned, if a competitor is mentioned, industry news, and so much more. Two of our favorite tools are free: Google Alerts and IFTTT. Provide other avenues for contact.We can’t begin to count the number of times we’ve gone to a social media profile to find contact information … and there’s none to be found. At a minimum, make sure your domain name is visible! If your website is clearly listed, people can always go there to find additional information about you, or even better, make a purchase. It all starts with a great domain. Get yours from Domain.com. Give your business a boost by going social Once you get started with social media, you’ll find it provides a host of benefits to your business. From customer service, to free marketing, and competitive intelligence — the world is your oyster on social media. What other benefits can a business derive from having an active social media presence? Do you have any tips for those just getting started? Share them in the comments below, we’d love to hear them! The post 6 Reasons Your Business Needs Social Media and How to Get Started appeared first on Domain.com | Blog.

9 Free Stock Photography and Image Resources for Your Website

Your website is the heart of your digital presence — and as such, don’t you think it should look good? That’s what we at Domain.com believe, so we’ve put together this list of free image resources to help you create a beautiful website. You can also use these images for your marketing and social media needs. Get the perfect domain name for your website today at Domain.com. 9 Free image and photo resources for your website Unsplash Unsplash’s tagline is “Photos for everyone,” and they mean it. Over 100,000 photographers contribute high-resolution photos to Unsplash, and those photos are reviewed daily for the best, hand-picked selection. With more than 850,000 photos on their site you’re sure to find what you need and be able to use it as you’d like. Foodiesfeed Do you have a blog or website devoted to food, recipes, or cooking? Foodiesfeed might just become your new best friend. All of the photos on Foodiesfeed (1300+) fall under the Creative Commons Zero license (CC0), so you can modify and use them for free, both personally and commercially. Doesn’t this image make your mouth water and inspire you to plan your next blog post? Styled Stock Ladies (and anyone who may identify as such) this one’s for you. Styled Stock offers feminine stock photography for your commercial and non-commercial needs, and doesn’t require attribution. If your website could benefit from a feminine look-and-feel, check out their images. If you’re looking for diverse photos of women, and not just feminine photography, check out our next resource. Createherstock Ok, we’ll admit, we love their name! Createherstock describes themselves as “… a lifestyle-esque, stock photography resource where [they] curate modern and authentic imagery for female bloggers, creatives, and online influencers of color.” Is your website lacking diverse representation? Createherstock can help. Their photos may be used either personally or for business needs, but not commercial marketing or advertising. You can read their full Terms of Use here. Take a look at the sharp, beautiful, and inclusive image below, and then go check out the rest of their free images. Nappy “Beautiful, high-res photos of black and brown people. For free.” Nappy challenges what many traditional stock photography sites offer — “unrealistic representations of real people doing real things.” Their site focuses on filling a gap many other stock photography sites miss, and that’s highlighting diversity in their photos. All of the photos they offer fall under the CC0 license, so they’re fair game to use as you see fit. Stocksnap.io Why does Stocksnap.io exist? To provide “… sharp, arresting visual images” so your work on the web can succeed. All of their images are free to use, no matter your needs or purpose. Their large selection of free stock photography is curated and easily searchable with their tag-based category system. Burst Powered by Shopify, Burst is a “free stock photo platform.” One of the things we like most about Burst is their “Business Ideas” collections. Here, you’ll find 20 popular online business ideas — replete with marketing tips, business model information, and neither last nor least, free stock photography. Their photos are available for personal and commercial use. These collections were created for entrepreneurs and for those thinking of taking the leap into entrepreneurship. And don’t worry if you don’t use Shopify, they believe in giving everyone access to the photos on Burst, which we can all appreciate. Gratisography What’s life without a little quirkiness? Gratisography provides “quirky, creative, always free photos” that you can download and use without copyright restrictions. If you’re tired of the more traditional, staid, stock photography sites then give Gratisography a round of applause for providing beautiful, interesting, and engaging alternatives. Old Book Illustrations Is photography not your thing? Is the look-and-feel of your website more illustrative? There’s a free resource for you, too! It’s called Old Book Illustrations, and they offer “…a wide range of public domain, royalty-free images scanned from old books.” You can review their Terms of Use here. It’s time to make a beautiful website Now that you know where to find arresting, engaging images for your website, what’s stopping you from getting it up and running? Or updating your current website for a refreshed look and feel? If you don’t have a website, we can help! With every domain name purchase we offer a free 6-page website builder, or you can choose to purchase other website packages. We’re here to help, so don’t be a stranger if you have any questions. Best of luck with your website! The post 9 Free Stock Photography and Image Resources for Your Website appeared first on Domain.com | Blog.

How to Identify Your Ideal Customer

When it comes to starting a business, or building an e-commerce website, there are some things you must know in order to be successful — like who your ideal customer is. Why is that so important? Well, your business, as great as it is, isn’t for everybody. Some folks will love what you offer and turn into repeat customers, some can appreciate what you offer but won’t commit to a purchase, and others won’t be interested at all. (Sounds a lot like dating, doesn’t it?) How do you market your business to such a wide variety of people who all feel differently toward your business? You don’t. Instead, focus on identifying your ideal customer by creating a customer persona that you can then use to cater your marketing messages for maximum effect. Once you know who you’re trying to sell your products to, you’ll find it easier to design your site and messaging to attract them. It all starts with a great domain. Find yours at Domain.com. Here’s what to consider when creating a customer persona What problem do I solve and what’s my differentiator? When you start a business, one of the first things someone might ask you is “What problem do you solve?” If you haven’t figured that out yet, now is the time. If you aren’t sure what needs your product or service addresses, how can you expect your customers to know? Your customers can’t understand how your product will benefit them if you haven’t taken the time to think it through yourself. Once you’ve identified the problem that you solve, it’s on to part 2, figuring out your differentiator. Do you have competitors who offer the same products and solutions that you do? What sets you apart? Is it your customer support or bonus features? Your differentiator should play a role in determining your marketing strategy and helps you stand out from the crowd. What do current customers say about your product? Feedback is a gift, so ask for it and use it. Use your current customers’ praises and critiques to fine-tune your offerings and make them more appealing to your ideal customer. What are your ideal customer’s demographics? Why do demographics matter? If you’re selling high-quality, fine wines, you don’t want to waste your time and money marketing them to people who refuse to buy anything that isn’t on sale. By understanding your ideal customer’s demographics, including income and preferences, you’ll be able to cater your messaging to get your product in front of the people who will buy it. The role of Google Analytics If you don’t have Google Analytics, or something similar, on your website then you should add it. Google Analytics is a set of free tools that Google created as part of its marketing platform and they’ll help you analyze and understand your website traffic. How does that assist in creating a customer persona? If you can get insight into who is purchasing from your site — where they come from, what device they use, what social media channel they discovered you on — you can start to paint a picture of your online customers. Do the people who purchase from you online match up with your expectations? Is there anything you need to tweak to bring in your ideal customers? It all starts with a great domain. Find yours at Domain.com. Identifying your ideal customer leads to improved marketing When you identify your perfect customer and create a customer persona, you’re also learning about your business. Depending on your business, you may even need to create multiple customer personas. You can use this information to improve and cater your marketing messages for better results, and more sales, moving forward. The post How to Identify Your Ideal Customer appeared first on Domain.com | Blog.

Mobile-First Indexing for All New Domain Names on Google

This post first appeared on Morgan Linton’s blog. Google is making a major change on June 1st, one that they started to talk about back in 2016 and are finally bringing live next month. The idea makes a lot of sense but it could also leave some website owners in a tricky situation if they haven’t already taken a mobile-first approach themselves. Here’s the skinny: That means that when a new website is registered it will be crawled by Google’s smartphone Googlebot, and its mobile-friendly content will be used to index its pages, as well as to understand the site’s structured data and to show snippets from the site in Google’s search results, when relevant.(Source – Techcrunch) As many of you know, when you visit my blog on a mobile phone, it looks completely different. I have a nice handy plugin for WordPress that does this for me. The ads go away, all distractions disappear, and instead the focus is on what is should be on mobile – content. Still, there are a ton of website and blogs out there that don’t have a great mobile experience and they are likely going to start to notice less traffic coming from search starting in June. Not only is Google using the mobile version of a site to get content for indexing, for years now it has been ranking sites higher that are mobile friendly: As we noted earlier this year, today’s the day we begin globally rolling out our mobile-friendly update. We’re boosting the ranking of mobile-friendly pages on mobile search results. Now searchers can more easily find high-quality and relevant results where text is readable without tapping or zooming, tap targets are spaced appropriately, and the page avoids unplayable content or horizontal scrolling.(Source – Google Webmaster Central Blog) The good news is, it has never been easier to make your site mobile-friendly, especially if you use a platform like WordPress. Here’s a handy article that compares seven different WordPress plugins to make your blog look great on mobile. Don’t use WordPress? Don’t worry. Here’s a solid article to help you understand how to make your site mobile friendly, and if you’re not a developer, don’t worry there either, there are more web developers than ever now and places like Upwork can help you connect with one for a fraction of what you would have paid only a few years ago. It’s important to remember that while you might still be someone that surfs the web (do people still say that?) on your Desktop with your huge monitor, most people around the world are looking at your site on a tiny Smartphone screen…and that trend is here to stay. Interested in a WordPress hosting package? See what Domain.com has to offer! The post Mobile-First Indexing for All New Domain Names on Google appeared first on Domain.com | Blog.

Com vs Net: Which Should You Choose?

There are two basic components within a website address. First, there’s the domain name, it’s what connects the website to a company or individual. It usually contains the name of the business, or speaks to what the business offers, or both. Then, there’s the domain name extension, it identifies what kind of website it is. There are over a thousand domain extensions although these are the most common: .com.net.org.edu.gov The two most frequently used domain extensions (.com and .net) are used by individuals and businesses who are trying to expand their reach online. Having a website allows you to buy and sell products online, offer research into a specific topic, and to spread a captivating message. So with both .com and .net being so common, which domain extension should you use? It all starts with a great domain. Get yours at Domain.com. 3 Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right Domain Extension Whether you’re a for-profit business, a blogger, or a conspiracy theory debunker, the right domain extension sets the proper expectation for users accessing your site. Imagine trying to purchase shoes online and seeing that the domain extension is a .org. One might make the logical leap that purchasing these shoes is in some way benefiting a nonprofit (as most nonprofits and charities will use the extension .org). While at first, this sounds great — even more reason to buy those shoes! — some might consider that a dishonest use of a domain extension. (Not that there are many requirements as to which TLD (or, top-level domain) businesses can use, but there are certain expectations and connotations for each one.) To properly utilize the .com or .net domain extension, consider these three factors. What is the Purpose of the Website Are you selling a product? Are you offering information? Are you trying to save a species of animals? These are important questions because they strike at the heart of your business and determine which domain extension is appropriate. Here is a breakdown of the most common domain extensions: .com – Usually offers a product or service. “Com” is short for “Commercial.” Commercial businesses, for-profit companies, personal blogs, and non-personal blogs are all standard for owning a .com domain. That being said, because of its generality, almost any website is acceptable as a .com. .net – Stands for “Network,” and is generally associated with “umbrella” sites — sites that are home to a wide range of smaller websites. Network sites were initially created for services like internet providers, emailing services, and internet infrastructure. If a business’s desired .com domain name is taken, .net can be considered an alternative. Other commonly used domain extensions have a more specific purpose: .org – Short for “Organization.” These sites are generally associated with nonprofits, charities, and other informational organizations that are trying to drive traffic not for commercial purposes. Other organizations who use .org are sports teams, religious groups, and community organizations..edu – or “Education.” Schools, universities, and other educational sites will utilize the .edu domain extension for an air of authority in the education space..gov – or “Government.” These sites are required to be part of the U.S. Government. Anything related to U.S. government programs or other departments must have a .gov domain extension. How Common is Your Business Name Imagine: A business offers standard products like sewing equipment and materials. The name of the company is something equally familiar like Incredible Sewing. Because “incredible” and “sewing” are two commonly used words, the chances that the appropriate domain is available for a .com domain extension is much less than for .net. (Although as of writing this, Incredible Sewing is available in the domain space.) The reason for this is how frequently each domain extension is used. In 2018, upwards of 46% of all registered domains used the .com TLD while only 3.7% used .net. When trying to come up with the perfect web address, sometimes it feels like every one-word or two-word .com domain name is already taken. This is one reason why some individuals and businesses will choose to use a .net extension versus a .com. (Note: It might be beneficial to check if your desired domain is available before moving forward with a project or company. Going to great lengths to plan in the beginning will save time and prevent you from having to remake those business cards due to an unavailable domain name! If you’re wondering how to search for your domain, check out Domain.com.) Memorability: Com vs Net Has this ever happened to you: An advertisement is playing, and you barely catch the tailwind of it? You type in the website address only to have it come up blank. Later, you find out you had put in .com when it was a .net, or some other, domain. The fact is, the basic assumption about websites is that they all have a .com domain extension. This is because the second most common top-level domain is only used about 5% of the time (.org). By going with the tried and true .com, companies can ditch this confusion and not worry about decreased traffic. If this seems absurd, consider this: Most cell phone keyboards now come with a “.com” button, though none come with .net, .org or any other domain extensions attached to it. Other Considerations for Creating a Web Address While both .com and .net are resourceful domains, there are other considerations to think about when creating a web address. Some of those center around: Traditional vs nontraditional domainsDomain protectionSEO: how each performs Traditional vs Nontraditional Domains For most businesses, straddling the traditional and nontraditional is part of the balancing act. While companies want to seem edgy and unique, unconventional ways can be viewed negatively by more traditional businesses and customers. In the web domain space, there are now over a thousand domain extensions available to the consumer. All but a handful are looked at as “nontraditional.” So, while it might seem valuable to stand out, be sure to consider how it may be viewed professionally. New TLDs Back in 2012, ICANN decided to allow businesses to apply for unique domain extensions. This quickly rose the number of TLDs from its original 22. Some of the early applications for domain extensions involved words such as: .design.lol.love.book.tech Some of these new TLDS offered immediate value to businesses and consumers who wanted a new and noteworthy domain. Others seemed more like gag websites (hence the stereotype of new TLDs being unprofessional). Either way, these new TLDs have exploded to a comprehensive list. Now, if you’re a yoga company, you can use .yoga. Sell yachts? Make tech? Play tennis? Eat soy? These are all available as domain extensions. Which means not only can you create more unique web addresses, but you can also be more specific. If having a new TLD sounds perfect for your business, be sure to check through the full list to find one that fits your needs. Domain Protection Depending on what you want to accomplish with your business website, it might be worth registering both .com and .net. In this way, you can protect yourself from competing companies taking a very similar domain. Otherwise, another company can ride off your success and potentially drive traffic away. As companies grow, they become more susceptible to being confronted with these sorts of schemes. They are then forced to decide whether to buy out the competing website or to let them be. Needless to say, the larger the company, the more they’re going to have to pay. What are other things you should look out for when it comes to people using similar domain names? Typosquatting Typosquatting is when individuals purchase web domains based on common misspellings of words. From our last example of Incredible Sewing, they might take the web domain by spelling “incredible” as “incredibel.” By systematically using misspellings, these forms of leaching can drive substantial traffic away from the intended website. These typosquatters can then offer to be bought out, or they’ll just continue to steer traffic to other organizations that they own. As of right now, the most viable option for protecting yourself is to purchase multiple domains. Although, this is becoming more difficult with each new TLD. SEO: How Each Performs Search engine optimization has to do with complex algorithms that determine how relevant your website is to a given search. In terms of which domain extension you should pick (between com vs net), there is no evidence that suggests one does better over another. It can be noted, however, that having certain keywords within your web domain can improve your SEO ranking. Having “sewing” within your domain will make your site more relevant for keyword searches around sewing. It’s that straightforward. Com: Pros and Cons As an overview, let’s run through the benefits and pitfalls of using a .com domain extension: Pros – Using a “commercial” extension, companies and individuals can signify their intention. Whether that’s to sell a product or service or to promote your work, the .com does this in a matter that’s professional and can be trusted. Also, there’s no worrying over your web address being confused. Cons – Because nearly half of all websites are based on .com, finding the perfect domain name that isn’t already in use can be tough. It can be pricey to buy out an existing domain and time-consuming to find one available. Net: Pros and Cons Originally designed for any network organization like internet providers and email sites, .net sites have been rising in popularity as an alternative to .com. Pros – Many fewer .net website domains have been registered than .com domains. This means there’s a higher chance of getting your ideal web domain. Also, because of its original design, .net sites are often associated with having a community around them. This can promote a positive image.Cons – These websites will need to market harder to compete with a similar .com site. Automatically, people think that any website is a .com site, which means businesses can lose traffic due to confusion. It all starts with a great domain. Get yours at Domain.com. How to Create the Perfect Domain Name Once you’ve decided whether you’re going with a .com or a .net domain extension, it’s then important to make sure it’s paired with the perfect domain name. The ideal address will do one of three things: State your businessState what your business doesIncite intrigue The first two are preferred, while the third is more of a backup strategy. Because many .com and .net sites have already been taken, sometimes a roundabout domain will be the best solution. A domain name should also have a few decisive characteristics. Try creating a web address that is some combination of: ClearConciseUnmistakable Short Straightforward Approach The first step is always to check if the business name is available as a domain. If your business name has been taken, check to see how up-to-date the website is. If it’s not current and doesn’t look like it’s being used, it might be possible to purchase the domain name from whomever owns it. Having the business name as the domain name is ideal because it’s the logical extension of that business. Starbucks has Starbucks.com. Apple has apple.com. If the business name is unavailable, sometimes it helps to add a modifier word. If starbucks.com was already taken, the next logical domain would be starbuckscoffee.com. In the same way, Apple would be able to use appleelectronics.com. It’s not as short as only having the business name, but it is still clear, concise, and unmistakable. Branding a Unique Term Another idea for getting the perfect website domain is to coin a term that’s unique to your business. Then you can use that term within your brand’s website. By doing this, you not only have crafted a unique web identity, but it can also be concise and short. Conclusion When determining which domain extension is better, com vs net, always be sure to look inward first. Acknowledge the purpose of putting your content online. Whether it’s to market a brand, sell a product, or connect various smaller sites by theme, each domain extension has its proper setting. By crafting the perfect domain name with the suitable domain extension, you can have a web address that is memorable, unique, and fitting for your business. More Information To find out more about the differences between new TLDs and gTLDs check out our domain blog today! There you’ll find other resources like How to Block an IP Address, How to Design a Website, and more. The post Com vs Net: Which Should You Choose? appeared first on Domain.com | Blog.

How to Block an IP Address

Of all the metaphors used to describe the internet, one of the most appropriate might be the “Wild West.” The Wild West, just like the internet, was expansive and difficult to regulate, and filled with bandits and marauders who would take advantage of someone without batting an eye. While technological progress has fortified internet security, in reality there are still many ways for bad actors to infiltrate a business or person’s website, email, or online persona in order to wreak havoc. How to Block an IP Address Just as it would have been in the Wild West, it’s important to learn how to protect yourself from external threats. The basic security offered by internet servers can ward off some infiltration attempts, but often crafty criminals slip through the cracks. Learning how to identify and block the IP address of an online pest is perhaps the best way to improve your security on the internet. It all starts with a great domain. Get yours at Domain.com. What is an IP Address? Blocking IP addresses might be the most effective way to bolster your internet security, but what good is that knowledge if you don’t know what an IP address is? The best way to think of an IP address is by comparing it to a street address. Think about your place of residence—you receive bills, packages, and guide friends to your house by giving them a combination of numbers and letters. That combination—your address—is used to single out your location in relation to all other possible locations. IP addresses work in the exact same way. Each device that’s connected to the internet is assigned a unique IP address.A device’s IP address allows the device to interact with, receive information from, and otherwise contact other devices and networks on the internet. Simply put, an IP address places internet users on the grid. Without it, they would be unable to communicate with other networks. What do IP Addresses Look Like? Even though most internet users connect to the internet using an IP address on a daily basis, the vast majority of people don’t know what an IP address looks like. There are two forms that an IP address can take. The first is IPv4, which stands for “Internet Protocol version 4.” The second is IPv6, which stands for — can you guess? — “Internet Protocol version 6.” IPv4 Invented all the way back in the 70s, IPv4 was the first wave of IP addresses. Most devices are still connected to the internet using an IPv4 address, but that started to change in 2011 with the release of IPv6. IPv4 addresses are composed of four numbers between 0-255, separated by dots or periods.An IPv4 address might look like: 99.31.235.187. From the inception of the internet, IP addresses were provided using the IPv4 model. However, all of the available IPv4 addresses have been allocated, necessitating the move to IPv6. IPv6 On June 6, 2012, IPv6 was launched by organizations like the Internet Society, among others. IPv6 addresses use a hexadecimal digit system, separates groups using colons, and may include letters. The number of conceivable IPv6 addresses is enormous and won’t run out anytime soon.An IPv6 address might look like: 2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334. The complexity of an IPv6 address means that the internet will be prepared to host an even larger number of connected devices in the future. Why Block an IP Address? There are several reasons a business, educational institution, or internet user would attempt to block an IP address. In general, the most common reasons are: Blocking Bots, Spammers, and Hackers: When bots, spammers, and hackers attempt to infiltrate your website, it can put a heavy strain on your bandwidth and decrease the speed with which you and other users can access your website. If you run a business online, this can be detrimental to sales.  Limiting Website Access: Many academic institutions and businesses use IP blocking to limit the websites that students or employees can visit. The goal is typically to increase productivity by limiting distractions.Protecting Data: Hackers often attempt to infiltrate websites to steal data or other important information. That information can be used to blackmail or otherwise undermine a company. Maintaining Confidentiality: Many academic institutions and companies who keep sensitive records—like transcripts, health records, etc.—are regularly targeted by hackers. Identifying threatening IP addresses and placing them on a blacklist is an essential step to keep those records safe and confidential. This list should only be seen as the tip of the iceberg. There are countless reasons that an individual or organization might want to block certain IP addresses, and there should be no underestimating how malicious certain internet hackers can be. How to Block an IP Address Ultimately, blocking an IP address allows administrators and website owners to control website traffic. The process of blocking an IP address—or several—changes depending on the operating system that’s being used. While there are several different operating systems, the most common are Windows and Mac. We’ll cover the steps for blocking an IP address using both of these systems, which achieve the same goal through slightly different means. Blocking an IP Address for Mac Users To block an IP address on your Mac computer, you’re going to need access to your wireless router (or LAN router, which connects to the internet using an Ethernet cable). Knowing the password is essential, which can often be found printed or stuck on the outside of the modem. System Preferences: Find the Apple menu, represented as the Apple logo in the top left corner of your computer screen. Open the dropdown menu and select “System Preferences.” Once your System Preferences menu appears, find the icon labeled “Network.” Then, press the “Advanced…” bar at the bottom of the screen. Navigate to the TCP/IP tab, where you should find your IPv4 or IPv6 address.Access Router: Next, you’re going to have log into your router. Again, password information can typically be found on the outside of the router, but if you’re having trouble you can always contact your network administrator. Restrict Access: Once you’ve logged into your router, a list of enabled and disabled IP addresses should appear. From there, most routers will give you the option to deny access to unique IP addresses or an entire range of addresses. You should also have the option to block a website. After blocking the IP address, your network will be protected from that address. Blocking an IP Address for Windows Users Blocking IP addresses on a Windows computer requires going through the “Windows Firewall.” In tech terms, a firewall is a component that allows your computer to block access to your network without inhibiting your ability to communicate with outside networks. This guide is going to explain how to locate and block the IP address of a website. Windows Firewall makes this a relatively simple process. If you already know the IP address you want to block, begin with step 3. 1 – Locate Website to Block: Open your internet browser and locate the website you want to block. Highlight and copy everything that comes after the “www” in the web address. 2 – Open Command Prompt: Navigate to your start menu and open “Command Prompt (Admin).” Paste the website’s web address into the first line of code. Command Prompt should respond by generating several lines of code, which should reveal the website’s IP address. Highlight and copy the IPv4 or IPv6 address. Return to your internet browser, paste it into the search bar, and press enter. Confirm that it takes you back to the website.  3 – Open Windows Firewall: Open the start menu. Locate “Control Panel.” From there, find “Windows Firewall.” Open it. 4 – Advanced Settings + Windows Inbound Rules: With Windows Firewall open, locate and click on “Advanced settings” on the left of the screen. Then, locate “Inbound Rules,” which should also be found near the top left of the screen. This should change the menu options. On the right portion of the window, find and click on “New Rule…”5 – New Rule: With the New Rule tab open, select the “Custom” option and press “Next.”  Advance by pressing Next two more times, until you arrive at a window which asks “Which remote IP addresses does this rule apply to?” Click the option that reads, “These IP Addresses.” 6 – Add IP Addresses: Click on the “Add…” button. From there, you can paste the website’s IP address (or any other IP address) into the box that reads “This IP address or subnet:” Repeat this process, adding all IP addresses you wish to block. Once they’re added, click “Next” at the bottom of the screen. 7 – Block: Three options should appear on the next page. The bottom option will read “Block the connection.” Click this and advance to a page which prompts you to “Name,” the blocked IP addresses. After you’ve named it, press Next until the “Finish” bar appears. Click Finish. 8 – Repeat Process with “Outbound Rules”: Return to the Advanced settings window and repeat the process you completed under “Inbound Rules” with “Outbound Rules.” Once steps 1-8 are complete, the IP address or addresses that you’ve isolated will be blocked from your network. Why Have I Been Blocked? If you’ve attempted to visit a website and discovered that you’ve been blocked or have otherwise been denied access, there are several potential reasons. The most common include: Viruses in your DeviceSoftware ExtensionsHistory of Illegal Actions Viruses in your Device One of the most common reasons that IP addresses are blocked from accessing remote servers is because the remote server detects a virus contained within your IP address. It’s often the case that internet users don’t even know that they have picked up a virus. Once you’ve removed the virus from your network, feel free to reach out to the website you attempted to access and explain why you should be removed from the blacklist. Software Extensions There are many ways to customize your internet browser. Some of the extensions that you can add will eliminate pop-up ads from websites or attempt to detect viruses that might be hiding within a website. While there’s nothing illegal about adding extensions to your browser, some websites will ban users who run ad-blockers. They may see this as a disruption of their revenue flow. History of Illegal Actions If you have a history of conducting illegal activity online, many website admins will block your IP address as a preventative measure, deeming you untrustworthy. Online illegal activities may include illicit trade, activity in the dark web, or cyber-crimes. Inappropriate Website Content If you operate a website that contains potentially offensive content like pornographic material or illegal trade, you will likely be blacklisted from many websites on the grounds that your content is subjectively inappropriate. While you may disagree with the decision of another admin to blacklist your website, there is often no way around the blacklist outside of a direct appeal to the admin. It all starts with a great domain. Get yours at Domain.com. Recapping How to Block an IP Address To recap, IP addresses are used to connect devices to the internet at large. They help locate a connected device in relation to all other devices. By discovering the IP address of a device or website that is causing trouble to an internet user, that user can block the address using a rather straightforward process. The process of blocking an IP address may change depending on the operating system that is used by the internet connected device. While there are more steps required for PC users, the process is equally straightforward, and perhaps even easier than the process required by Mac users. If your IP address has been blocked, there are several possible reasons. The first, and most common reason, is that your IP address is associated with a virus—usually one that you’ve picked up by accident. By using antivirus software, you can purge that virus from your computer and then appeal to the website admin to remove you from the IP blacklist.   The post How to Block an IP Address appeared first on Domain.com | Blog.

What Are The New TLDs

As the internet has matured, the sheer number of relevant domains has started to dwindle. If you’ve registered a .com web address, chances are you’ve felt the pain of trying to find an applicable one-word or two-word domain that’s still available. With only about 22 generic top-level domains, the domain space was beginning to feel a bit crowded. Enter, new TLDs: .tech.space.actor.yoga New TLDs provide novel territory for individuals and businesses who want to distinguish themselves among other websites. Some of these domain extensions have incredible utility by offering companies a more niche website or a creative take on their original TLDs. What Are the Original TLDs The old TLDs are the original domain extensions that are still commonly in use today. Each has a specific purpose and a certain domain space to which it is connected. A few of the most well-known examples are: .com – Often used for commercial businesses and individuals who are marketing themselves..net – Short for “Network,” these are commonly associated with internet providers, emails, and umbrella sites that are connected to various smaller sites..org – Nonprofits and charities will often use the .org domain extension. Other organizations like sports teams, community groups, and religions will often use .org..edu – “Education.” Most schools, universities, and other learning centers will use this TLD..gov – This is a restricted TLD used by the U.S. government. Any government site must have a .gov domain extension. For a long time, these sorts of top-level domains were considered sufficient for covering all the subsections of the internet. But, of course, as the internet expanded, so increased the necessity for new TLDs. It all starts with a great domain. Get yours at Domain.com. ICANN and its Role in New TLDs The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (or ICANN) is a non-profit that helps maintain the Domain Name System (or DNS). ICANN is the organization responsible for the decision to expand the internet domain space, by allowing new TLDS to operate. Back in 2012, ICANN decided to allow businesses to apply for new top-level domains to promote growth. Some of the earliest applied TLDs included: .art.app.love.shop.baby Since then, more than a thousand new TLDs have entered the public domain. Now the question is, which one should you choose? 6 Considerations For Choosing a New TLD While these new TLDs are unconventional compared to the standard .com or .net, they have many benefits. Maybe you’re looking to stand out creatively from the other websites in your competitive space. Or maybe every domain idea you’ve had has already been taken. However you want to use them, new TLDs have incredible potential to boost your web presence. Modernized TLDs Every so often some new technological advancement will come along that shifts the way something is done. In this case, what’s changed is the possibility of a new and innovative web address. Businesses have always evolved and by using these new TLDs, companies can stay ahead of the curve. New TLDs — A Fresh Take Therefore, it’s important to have perspective. Sure, right now certain traditionalists consider anything but the core group of gTLDs to be less desirable (.com, .net, .org, etc.). But as these new TLDs become more commonplace, this view is changing and having an up-to-date domain will save time. Companies who lag might later change their opinion too late and find out their desired domain has already been taken. Of course, use this perspective with caution. How a business is perceived is always essential. Be sure to understand your audience and take them into account when registering a domain. Knowing Your Audience Not all businesses are created equal. Different demographics will be attracted to different facets of a company. Marketing strategies toward senior citizens, for example, will be much different than marketing toward millennials. Understanding your audience can help push you toward the right TLD. As a yoga center, one option is to register a .com domain extension. However, it would also be appropriate to register a .yoga TLD. This would generate authority within the yoga space. Some other new TLDs that fit a niche market are: .coffee.tennis.pizza.toys.photography Each of these domain extensions hits their target market with a certain exactness. Specificity Knowing what sort of business you run or what kind of service you are providing can help narrow down the TLD you want. The perfect domain extension indicates precisely what to expect when users stumble upon your website. Not only this, using a more specific domain extension can reduce the length of the website URL. Some new TLDs that can help specify your web address are: .tech – With the increasing number of tech start-ups out there, having a .tech TLD can set your website apart from the pack..design – Spice up an artist portfolio page with a .design URL. Or use this new TLD for any number of design professions like interior decorator, web designer, graphic designer, and more..luxury – Fashion brands, high-end accessories, car companies, furniture, these are all services that can succeed under the .luxury domain extension..restaurant – This TLD can separate your restaurant from all the other .com eateries. It allows the name of your restaurant to exist as the domain name and leave the “description” for the domain extension. These are just a few of the numerous TLDs available on Domain.com. Each has its own space where it provides value. It’s all a matter of finding the right one and getting creative. Increased Creativity With the sheer number of available TLDs nowadays, it’s possible to use them to upgrade your web address and boost it to the next level. Some examples of new creative web addresses include: [Your Name].cool[Clothing Brand].fashion[Cooking Site].recipes[Anything].pizza As you can see, these are just a few examples of possible combinations. With over a thousand of these new TLDs, it’s hard to imagine not finding the perfect domain that is both creative and descriptive. Brand Protection For those companies who already have their generic TLD domain name, it can be beneficial to scoop up similar TLDs that are available on the market. If a coffee business owns its brand name with the .com domain extension, they might also wish to purchase the .coffee domain extension as well. The Necessity of Brand Protection Unfortunately, with each new TLD, it becomes harder to protect a brand from those trying to benefit off of it. Brandjacking – Individuals will purchase relevant domains based around a popular website and use its popularity to drive traffic away from the intended website. An example of this would be trying to register starbucks.coffee before Starbucks does in order to exploit them or drive traffic to an opposing site. (In this case, Starbucks is a trademarked entity, so this would not be possible. It is more of a problem for smaller companies.)Typosquatting – Another form of brand protection that becomes harder to manage is typosquatting. This is when individuals will purchase web domains based on common misspellings of certain words. If enough traffic is driven away from the main site, companies are often forced to buy out that individual for the rights to the web address. More companies are having to purchase additional domains despite already owning their business website. Availability With each additional TLD available, the domain space grows and more companies can purchase a short, memorable and descriptive web address. This is incredibly useful as almost half of all domains are registered under the .com domain extension while the next few TLDs don’t quite scratch 5% usage. With Availability Comes Variable Pricing Because there are so many TLDs available now, there are multiple organizations who monitor different domain extensions. This means that there is no one standard price for registering a domain name. Which is great for those domains that happen to be cheap. Others, however, can be quite expensive depending on how in-demand they are. New TLDs vs Old gTLDs So far, the focus has been on new TLDs, but how do they compare with the old, standard gTLDs? Benefits of gTLDs – Traditional TLDs are tried and true. There’s a reason .com still reigns supreme in terms of how many sites are registered each year. Having a domain extension .com, ensures a certain quality and reliability. Everybody knows and understands what’s involved when accessing a .com site.Downside of gTLDs – That being said, it is much harder to generate a desired web address with a gTLD. It’s then equally difficult for your website to stand out among other websites.Benefits of new TLDs – New TLDs are creative and fun. With new TLDs, it’s possible to express more than with the older gTLDs. The level of specificity achieved is more significant than what can be provided by standard gTLDs like .com and .net, and there are a lot more domains available.Downside of new TLDs – Because of how many new TLDs are being created, the demand for particular domain extensions can be significantly high. This pushes the prices up in an unpredictable way. Those who happen upon a popular TLD might end up paying considerably more than a traditional gTLD (whose prices stay relatively even throughout time). It all starts with a great domain. Get yours at Domain.com. Registering New TLDs With each new TLD, there is a procedure they go through before they’re available to the general public. Domain.com does offer their members to be a part of the early access group and pre-registration groups which is great for businesses and individuals seeking out highly-contested domain names. Here are a few different methods of registering for new TLDs: General Availability (GA)– This is the list of new TLDs and gTLDs that are currently available to the general public. Of course, these can be purchased if no other entity has secured the domain already. You can search by domain name on Domain.com to see if the desired name is available.Early Access – The Early Access Period (EAP) is usually during the first week that a new TLD is available. As the week progresses, domains with this extension decrease in cost. This allows individuals and businesses to spend more in order to purchase a domain earlier. The time length generally doesn’t exceed a week.Pre-Registration / Priority Pre-Registration – There is another way to gain a new TLD earlier than general availability. This is by pre-registering (or paying a premium with priority). This gives users the best chance to acquire hotly-contested web addresses. Trademarks and the Sunrise Period The earliest possible time to register a domain under a new TLD is known as the sunrise period. This is a period of 30 days where an entity with a registered trademark can register early for a new TLD (trademarks must be registered with the Trademark Clearinghouse—an international trademark database). By trademarking part of a business and incorporating it into the web domain, companies can further protect themselves against brandjacking. Other Types of TLDs Available There are some other types of top-level domains available that cover a different angle of web addresses. These include: ccTLDs – These are known as “country-code top-level domains.” They signify websites that are associated with a specific country. Common examples include:.us – United States.uk – United Kingdom.eu – Europe gTLDs – These are generic top-level domains. There are over twenty of these common gTLDs (.com, .net, etc.).sTLDs – Or “sponsored top-level domains.” Private organizations manage these, and in general, are not available to the public (.edu, .gov, etc.). Conclusion New TLDs are a fun, creative way for businesses to express their identity with the perfect website address. By sprinkling in some spice with a new domain extension, companies can upgrade their website and stand out among the countless number of sites around today. With how many new TLDs are available, the options are starting to seem unlimited. If you’re looking to use the perfect new TLD for your web address, know that Domain.com has over 300 new TLDs from which to choose! Sources: LinkedIn. (2017, Jan.). Brandjacking: What It Is and How to Avoid It. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/brandjacking-what-how-avoid-wink-faulkner/Domain Name Stat. Domain name registration’s statistics. https://domainnamestat.com/ ICANN. (2011, June). ICANN Approves Historic Change to Internet’s Domain Name System | Board Votes to Launch New Generic Top-Level Domains. https://www.icann.org/news/announcement-2011-06-20-en The post What Are The New TLDs appeared first on Domain.com | Blog.

Marketing: What It Is and How to Get Started

When you open your own business, whether it be a full or part time thing, you need to know the basics of marketing. Pop Quiz: Where do you start? A)    Digital Marketing B)    Social Media Marketing C)    Cold calling D)    Direct mailers E)    TV advertising F)     All of the above Our point is that it’s hard to know where to crack the marketing nut. There’s so much information about marketing available at your fingertips that it’s overwhelming. We’re going to get down to marketing basics: what it is and how it’s done, to make life easier for you. Once we’ve covered the basics of marketing we’ll discuss different tactics that you can employ today and some that you can plan for. Marketing, a definition If you search Merriam-Webster you’ll find marketing defined as Look to Dictionary.com and you’ll see Marketing, in a nutshell, is about getting your product or services in front of people who will purchase them. It’s been around for generations. You’ve heard of the ancient Greeks, right? What do you think they were doing when they loaded their goods into their carts and brought them to the agora? It wasn’t so people had something to look at, it was to get their products in front of prospective customers. Imagine a crowded Greek marketplace with multiple people selling the same product — they’re competing for the same customers. They need to cut through the noise and get the attention of the buyers so maybe they have a catchy slogan, or brightly colored carts, or a device to amplify the volume of their voice. These could be called ancient Greek marketing tactics.* We doubt you’re pulling your goods to a crowded, hilltop market in Greece, so your marketing tactics are going to look a little different. It all starts with the right domain. Get yours today at Domain.com. An explanation of common marketing terms you’ll encounter It’s hard to walk the marketer’s walk if you can’t talk the talk. We get it. Here are some common marketing terms you should know. Analytics– The information that you get from analyzing data or statistics.B2B– Business-to-business. If you sell products or services to other businesses, you’re in the B2B category.B2C– Business-to-consumer. If you sell products or services directly to consumers (including e-commerce, or online sales), you’re in this category.Bounce Rate– This measures the number or percentage of people who land on your website, but leave it after looking at only one page.Brand– A brand is a tricky thing to define. Here’s a good summary.Buyer Persona– A representation of what your ideal customer looks like: what motivates them, what are they trying to accomplish, what are their behaviors, and their demographics.Click-through-rate (CTR)- This measures the number of times someone clicks on your advertising or marketing materials. It’s a measurement of engagement.Conversion Rate– The number or percentage of people on your site who take the action you want them to take (make a purchase, get more information, sign up for your email list, etc.)Data– The statistics and facts you collect for analysis.Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)– KPIs describe the quantifiable ways you measure success. For example, if I were to send an email newsletter, I might choose open rate and click-through-rate as two of my KPIs.Marketing– We’ve got this one covered. If you’ve forgotten, see the start of this post.Marketing Funnel– A model of the path a prospective customer takes to become a paying customer. Marketing tactics for your small business or side gig What marketing tactics are best for you? There are so many that it can be difficult knowing where to begin. Unless you have a large marketing budget, you’re not ready for national TV advertising, so let’s look at other options. Email Newsletter– Email marketing is a great way for your customers (or prospective customers) to stay connected to you. Consider providing updates on sales, coupons, or special offers for your frequent readers.Podcast– What’s your expertise or interest? Can you provide value and insight to your customers by creating podcasts? Depending on your goals your podcast can vary from an entertaining overview of a recent comic (if you’re looking to drive engagement and build a fan base) or you can provide short, actionable tips and advice for your listeners.Blog– Blogs aren’t just for stay-at-home moms who share recipes. Writing blog posts increases your subject matter authority and can help your website rank higher in search engine results.Social Media– You don’t have to be on every single social media platform, but you should be where your customers, or potential customers, are. Share tips, tricks, offers, and build a community with your followers.Website– This is your home base. Your website should be built around the end user experience. Make it easy for your website visitors to find what they’re looking for or complete a purchase. If your website stinks, your marketing can only do so much.SEO– Search Engine Optimization. There are some great resources that exist to help you understand what you can do to rank higher in search engine results. There’s a lot to learn when it comes to SEO, so don’t get down on yourself if you can’t master it all in a day. Keep in mind that no matter how you start your marketing efforts, you should go into it with an idea of what your customers look like and what motivates them; this is what allows you to cater your marketing strategy and tactics for success. It all starts with the right domain. Get yours today at Domain.com. Ready to take on your marketing? The word “marketing” shouldn’t strike fear into your heart. Marketing has been around for centuries, and whether or not you realize it, you’ve probably already started marketing your business (word-of-mouth counts, so have you told anyone about your business?) Use our definitions of common marketing terms and suggestions for small business marketing tactics to jumpstart your marketing efforts today. What else do you suggest a small business owner, or someone just starting a side business, do to start their marketing? Any advice that you’ve learned through experience? We’d love to know, so share it below in the comments. *The author is no scholar on ancient Greece or Greek civilization. These events are dramatized as an illustration. Though, if you are an expert and have some background information to share, post it in the comments. The post Marketing: What It Is and How to Get Started appeared first on Domain.com | Blog.

5 Ways to Increase Your Online Visibility

It’s 2019, do you have a small business website? If you think creating a website requires years of technical training, an in-depth knowledge of code, and a month’s worth of free time … you’re incorrect.   You can build a good website in less than one day; in fact, you can do it in less than an hour with a tool like WebsiteBuilder. Think about what you’d like for your customers to do on your website: purchase products, sign up for an email list, etc. then plan and create your site around those actions. Keep in mind that your website is the heart and soul of your digital presence. Do seedy-looking storefronts make you want to shop at those retail locations? Probably not. So you’ll want to put a little thought into the domain name that your customers type into their browsers; after all, it is the first thing they’ll see and associate with your website. If you need more motivation, consider this: Retail e-commerce sales in the United States are projected to exceed 735 BILLION dollars by 2023. Do you really want to miss out on your piece of that pie? After creating your website, what else can you do to boost your online visibility? While your website is the cornerstone of your small business’ digital presence, there are other things you can do to increase it. Our friends at Radix created the following infographic, “5 Ways to Boost Your Business’ Online Visibility” to help your small business level-up. The post 5 Ways to Increase Your Online Visibility appeared first on Domain.com | Blog.

Google Analytics for Beginners: Get Started in Under a Day

Google Analytics can look intimidating — at first, it seemed that way for the author of this post. If you aren’t familiar with Google Analytics then you’ll likely recognize some of these questions: What is Google Analytics?How does it work?Is Google Analytics a marketing platform?I don’t understand how to set up Google Analytics on my website.I don’t understand what the different Google Analytics metrics mean. There’s no need to feel intimidated, because we’re here to answer these questions. At Domain.com, we’re determined to help our customers achieve success with their websites, so there was only one obvious solution: Roll up our sleeves and demystify Google Analytics so you don’t have to. Your time is precious, we get that, so we’ve made this Google Analytics Guide easy-to-follow. In our Google Analytics guide you’ll learn: What Google Analytics is.How to set up your Google Analytics account.How to add tracking codes to your site.How to understand and begin using your analytics data.How to set up automated reports. What is Google Analytics? Google Analytics is a set of free tools that Google created as part of its marketing platform. These tools help you analyze and understand your website traffic, which has a far greater reach and importance than you might realize. Your website is the heart of your digital presence, so knowing whether or not it’s healthy is vital. Analytics allow you to understand what parts of your website and site content are performing well, and what else needs some attention. They give you a picture of your digital customers and that allows you to cater and serve those customers better (happy returning customers = revenue). Any way you slice it, understanding your website performance so you know what to expect and where to improve will help your bottom line. Ready to get started? So are we. From sign up to set up: Covering your bases Sign up for a free Google Account if you don’t already have one. Your Google Account is your ticket to the world of Google, including Analytics. Navigate to the Google Marketing Platform and sign in with your Google Account.Once signed in, click “Set Up” under Google Analytics. Google breaks down what to expect as you complete your Analytics set up. Fill in the required fields, review your data sharing settings, and accept Google’s Terms to receive your tracking ID. Add the Global Site Tag (gtag.js) tracking code, which includes your newly created tracing ID, to your website. It’ll look like this: Google provides explicit instructions on what to do, so follow them as they relate to your site for specifics. Copy the code you’re given and paste it as the first item into the <head> section of each and every webpage you want to track. Or, if you already have a Global Site Tag on your webpage then Google says to only add the config line from the code they provide to your existing tag. Are you a WordPress user? If so, you have a few options for adding Google Analytics to your WordPress site. First, you can use 3rd party plugins to add your tracking code. There are a few different plugins available, but the most popular one was created by MonsterInsights. MonsterInsights offers a few different plans including a free version, and that’s the one we’ll show you how to use today. Navigate to MonsterInsight’s website to download and install their free plugin. If you’ve never installed plugins on WordPress before, this guide by WPbeginner will walk you through it. Activate the plugin and then click the new “Insights” tab on your WordPress admin menu. Now, you’ll be able to configure the plugin quickly and easily by answering the following prompts.Choose what type of category best describes your business (Business Website, Publisher/Blog, or Ecommerce) and click “Save and Continue.”On the next screen, click the blue “Connect MonsterInsights” button. This will open a pop-up.The pop-up will ask you to select or sign into your Google Account. Make sure you’re selecting the account that’s associated with your business or site.You’ll be prompted to give MonsterInsights access to your Analytics account. Click “Allow.”To complete the connection, select the profile you want to track. This should be your website. Once you’ve added your website click “Complete Connection.” Once you’ve completed those steps then MonsterInsights will install Google Analytics on your website and you’ll need to choose the recommended settings for your site. Generally, the default settings will suffice. You’ll see a couple more prompts, like to purchase a Pro account or install WPForms, but those are optional. You can select them or skip those steps. Click “Finish Setup & Exit Wizard” and you’re done! Did you know: MonsterInsights pulls Google Analytics information right into WordPress? It’s true! Click “Insights” then “Reports” to see an overview of your data. If you’d rather not use a 3rd party plugin, that’s ok. You have the option of installing Google Analytics in your WordPress Theme. A word of caution: This way is more advanced so we recommend having a familiarity with code if you choose this method. If you were to change themes in the future, you’d need to update the code in your new theme. Did you install the code or use a plugin? Congratulations! Google Analytics is now set up on your website or WordPress site and soon you’ll reap the benefits. Analytics gathers data to keep you apprised of your site’s performance — what are people engaging with, where are they coming from, how long are they staying on your site — it offers these insights, and so much more. It all starts with a great domain name. Get yours at Domain.com. Google Analytics is set up, now what? It’s time to see yourself out (of your data, that is.) You’re using Google Analytics to understand how others interact with and use your website, not to see your own behaviors and clicks tracked. Here’s how to stop your IP address (and your business’ or coworkers’ IP addresses) from Google Analytics tracking. Log into your Google Analytics account.Click “Admin” then “All Filters” then “ADD FILTER.” Name your filter.Filter type should be “Predefined.”Under Select Filter Type choose the following options in this order from the dropdowns: “Exclude.”“Traffic from the IP addresses.”“That are equal to.”Click on “All Web Site Data” in the Available Views area on the bottom left of the page and click “Add” to move it to the Selected Views area on the right.Click “Save.” That’s it, you’re officially on the blacklist (in a good way.) You’ve got Google Analytics tracking your website activity and you’ve excluded yourself from the data, so what’s left to do? Using and Understanding Your Google Analytics Data As you familiarize yourself with Google Analytics and learn about the data it offers you, keep in mind your business or website goals. These goals should influence the data you prioritize and any enhancements you make to your site. Breaking it down: Important data definitions as defined by Google Unique Visitors – Unique visitors tells us how many unique web browsers accessed a website during a specific, or pre-determined, time period. Cookies are used to calculate this metric. If some of your visitors use multiple browsers or delete cookies frequently, this can inflate your visitor count. Unique Pageviews – Unique pageviews tell us how many sessions included views of a specific page (or pages) at least once. Think of it this way: you can view a webpage 100 times within a session, but that will count as only 1 unique pageview.Unique Event – When you think “Event,” think “Action on page.” Unique events tell us how many sessions included a specific action (event). Events can include things like clicking on a CTA button you created or downloading a file from your site. Think of it this way: A visitor on your site can download the same file 5 times in a row, but unique events will only count it once. Unique Session (or Visit) – Sessions tell us how long a visitor spent on a certain website. A session begins as soon as someone hits a page on your website and it loads; it ends when the visitor leaves your site, closes their browser, or is inactive for 30+ minutes. Average Session (Visit) Duration – Average session duration tells us the average amount of time that a session lasts. This is normally displayed in seconds and calculates the time between the visitor’s first pageview and the last event that happened. So, if someone lands on your website and doesn’t do anything, thereby causing no event (like a click), average session duration will reflect as zero seconds. New Sessions (Visits)– This metric tells us how many first-time visits your site or pages receive during a specific timeframe. Cookies are used to calculate this metric, so if someone has deleted their cookies after visiting your site and then they come back, they’ll show as a new session. Return Sessions (Visits) – This is the pretty much the opposite of new sessions. The return sessions metric tells us how many repeat sessions, or visits, occurred during a specific timeframe. Cookies are used to calculate this metric. Bounce – A bounce is calculated as a visit that only has one pageview. Keep in mind: Sometimes, a bounce is a good thing. It can mean that someone entered your site and found the information they needed on the first page, then left. Oftentimes, it’s not so nice. If your site or pages experience a lot of bounces it could mean your visitors aren’t finding what they need, or are confused by your website, so they’re leaving your site before getting to the page or information they need. Do your due diligence and track what pages receive the most bounces and decide whether or not they make sense. Adjust your site accordingly. Bounce Rate – Bounce rate is calculated by dividing the total number of bounces by total number of visits (not unique visits.)Goals – There are 4 types of goals. Here’s how Google breaks it down. For an in-depth look at goals, check out Google’s dedicated support page. These are a selection of the important metrics offered by Google Analytics and the ones you should know as you get started. It all starts with a great domain name. Get yours at Domain.com. I know the lingo, now what? Once you’ve had a chance to review the available metrics and think about both your business and Google Analytics goals, we’re betting you’ll want to view the collected data in a convenient, easy-to-interpret manner. We’ve got good news: Google Analytics offers reports that allow you to quickly surmise your website and page performance, visitor behavior, and more. Analytics offers a great deal of customization when creating reports. You should customize your reports to track your goal performance and cater them to your business needs; however; here are two things we think everyone should track. How are people finding your website?This information helps you understand the different channels through which people arrive at your site. You’ll be able to tell if visitors are finding you via social media, organic traffic, email, paid advertising on certain channels, and more. With that kind of insight, you can optimize your marketing messages and spend. You can find this information by selecting “Acquisition” in the menu on the left of the page, then by clicking “All Traffic” and finally “Channels.” What pages are people landing on when they arrive at your site?If people are landing on some pages more than others it can mean a few things, like:Some pages are better optimized to appear in search results (SEO) than others. Can you duplicate any of the SEO tactics on your other pages?You’re putting more spend behind certain landing pages and campaigns than others. Is this intentional or do you need to readjust your spend?You can find this information by selecting “Behavior” in the menu on the left of the page, then by clicking “Site Content” and finally “Landing Pages.” At this point you might be thinking, “Wow. That’s a lot of information. How am I supposed to remember where everything is in the reports each time I need to look at the data?” Are there people who could? Yes, sure. But they’re few and far between. As we mentioned earlier, we know your time is precious and you wear a lot of hats, so … Thanks be to Google, you can save and schedule reports (and view them in a convenient Dashboard)! Google says that “Saved reports remember your settings so you don’t have to reconfigure a report each time you open it.” Scheduling and saving Google Analytics reports What gets saved in a report? Custom segments YES New metrics you’ve added YES Changed dimensions YES Date range NO How do you save a report? Great question. It’s simple. Assuming you’re already signed and looking at the correct property: Click “Reports” from the left-hand menu.Find the one(s) you use from the categories offered or from the tab labeled “Customization.”Make any changes or edits you’d like to the report. Configure it how you see fit.Click “Save” from the action menu located above the report. Name the report.Click “OK” to save your report. Note, this will automatically take you to the “Saved Reports” section of your account. Can you make changes to a report once it’s saved? Yes, you can. Here’s how: In the left-hand menu click “Customization.”Select “Saved Reports.”Select the report you’d like to edit andMake any necessary updates or changes thenClick “Save.” Looking to rename or delete one of your reports? You can do that, too. In the left-hand menu click “Customization.”Select “Saved Reports.”Use the “Actions” menu to Rename orDelete. If logging into Google Analytics to look at your reports is too time-consuming, you have another option, make your data come to you. Here’s what to keep in mind when scheduling reports: How often do you need this data?Whether it be daily or monthly, you can customize the frequency of your scheduled reports.How many reports do you need?You are limited to 400 scheduled email reports per user per view.  Who needs to see the report?You can have scheduled reports emailed to more than one person at a time. Once you’ve created or identified the report(s) you want scheduled, go ahead and open it up. Then you’ll need to: Click “Share.”In the “To” field, type the email address where the report should go. Separate multiple email addresses with commas.Enter a Subject Line.Choose the type of attachment you want to receive (CSV, TSV, TSV for Excel, Excel (XLSX), Google Sheets, or PDF.)Select the frequency of the report. Did you select something other than “Once” for your frequency? If so, click “Advanced Options” and select the “Active for” period that you’d like. Example – You can select a weekly frequency and have that report scheduled and active for 6 months, meaning you’ll get a weekly report for the next 6 months.If you have additional information to share you can type it into the text field in the body of the email.Click “Send” and you’re good to go. We’ve got one last helpful hint in our Beginners’ Guide to Google Analytics, and that is: make sure your Analytics account is set to the correct time zone. The time zone you choose will affect the data that you collect. Your data will display in your time zone and the beginning and end of a day will be designated by the time zone. Once you’re logged into your account, go ahead and: Click “Admin.”Click “View Settings” in the View column.Update “Time zone country or territory.” It all starts with a great domain name. Get yours at Domain.com. Putting it all together Use our beginners’ guide to help you get started with Google Analytics in less than one day. By following this guide you’ll be able to create a Google account, install Google Analytics tracking code on your website or WordPress site, create regularly scheduled reports containing the information you need to better your site, and understand what that data means so you can act upon it. For your website to be successful you must understand how it’s performing and identify areas of opportunity. Google Analytics, and our guide to it, will help you do just that. The post Google Analytics for Beginners: Get Started in Under a Day appeared first on Domain.com | Blog.

[Infographic] 10 Tips to Find the Perfect Small Business Domain Name

It’s National Small Business Week, and here at Domain.com, we couldn’t be more excited. Did you know that there are around 30.2 MILLION small businesses in the U.S.A. and they account for 66% of net new jobs? Small business owners everywhere, you impress us. Have you been thinking about starting your own business? There’s no time like the present. But where should you start? Your business and domain names are some of the first things potential customers see, and can influence their perception of you, so let’s start there. You’ll want to make sure that the business name you choose is also available to register as a domain name. This way, your physical and digital small business presence is consistent and you won’t confuse any potential customers. In honor of small businesses and entrepreneurs everywhere, our friends at Radix created the infographic below with 10 tips to help you choose the perfect domain name. It all starts with the right domain. Get yours today at Domain.com. 10 Tips to Find the Perfect Small Business Domain Name 1. K.I.S.S. — Keep it short & simple. People are busy and deal with constant distractions; be memorable with a short and simple domain name. 2. Avoid using hyphens and numbers. When it comes to choosing a domain name, err on the side of caution and avoid using lots of numbers and hyphens. Those characters are harder for people to remember, and you may lose out on website traffic. 3. Refrain from unique spelling. Much like with #2, keep your customers in mind. Chances are they’ll type your domain name the way they believe it should be spelled and never end up on your website. 4. If you already have a business name — use it! If you’ve already decided on a business name, use it for your domain name. There are many domain extensions, like .store or .tech, that increase the likelihood of you getting the perfect domain name to match your business. 5. Be descriptive. Don’t leave potential visitors guessing as to what they’ll find on your website. Make your domain name descriptive and creative so they’ll know exactly what to expect from your site. 6. Be relevant. Going all in on a tech startup? Use .tech. Diving into the world of e-commerce? Consider using a .store domain name extension. 7. Do your homework. Getting caught up in legal red tape isn’t a lot of fun — don’t use a domain name that’s trademarked. 8. Avoid slang to leave room for growth. Certain slang might be “in” today and passé tomorrow. Plan for longevity. 9. Don’t ignore Artificial Intelligence. We live in an age of Artificial intelligence, though you might call it “Alexa” or “Siri.” If automated assistants can’t spell or pronounce your domain name, there’s a problem. Hearkening back to #3 — spelling matters. 10. Plan on being social. Before hitting “Purchase,” take a few minutes to see if your desired domain name is available across different social media platforms. It all starts with the right domain. Get yours today at Domain.com. What other tips and tricks do you know that can help others find the perfect domain name? Share them with small business owners in the comments! The post [Infographic] 10 Tips to Find the Perfect Small Business Domain Name appeared first on Domain.com | Blog.

What Is a Generic Top-Level Domain?

If you’ve spent any time on the internet, chances are good that you’ve entered a gTLD, or Generic Top-Level Domain, into the search bar. The vast majority of websites possess one, and they exist to make the internet a more organized place. That said, what exactly is a gTLD, where do they come from, and how can they be used to your advantage? Before diving into these questions, it’s helpful to quickly explain how the internet, and web addresses, are organized. The DNS According to a survey done in January of 2018, 1,805,260,010 websites currently exist on the internet. That’s 1.8 billion individual web addresses that exist online, with more added every day. Organizing all of those web addresses seems a grueling task, but thanks to the Domain Name System (DNS), developed in 1983, the process has been simplified. Think of the DNS as the internet’s phonebook. Each web address — like Domain.com — is represented as an IP address, a long string of numbers that functions as the home address of a website (much like your home address corresponds to your house or apartment.) The DNS helps translate IP addresses into domain names. Domain names are easier ways to remember web addresses — they’re shorter and more practical for humans than a long string of numbers is. Components of a Domain Name Domain names are comprised of multiple parts, but only two of them are essential components. They exist on either side of a web address’ “dot.” To demonstrate how a web address is broken down, we’ll use Domain.com as an example. Domain.com has two components, a second-level domain (SLD) and a top-level domain (TLD). Second-Level Domain (SLD): The second-level domain is the text that exists to the left of the dot in Domain.com specifically the word “domain.” All web addresses possess a second-level domain, which is used to distinguish one website from others. Top Level Domain (TLD): A website’s top-level domain, or TLD, further distinguishes websites from one another, and also helps identify the content of the website. In Domain.com the TLD is the string of letters that fall to the right of the dot, specifically, “.com.” There are over one thousand unique TLDs, but the most popular and recognizable of them are known as generic top-level domains, or gTLDs. It all starts with the right domain. Get yours today at Domain.com. What is a gTLD? There’s a certain irony about the word “generic” in the phrase “generic top-level domain,” or gTLD. Generic means something unexceptional, banal, common — and yet, websites that use a generic top-level domain are respected, sought-after, and valuable to the companies and individuals who use them. Understanding the history of gTLDs can help explain why that is. History of gTLDs The first wave of gTLDs were released in the 80s, shortly after the internet was invented. They were developed to help the first generation of internet users organize websites. Despite being 30+ years old, the original seven gTLDs are among the most popular top-level domains on the internet. The original seven are: .com.edu.gov.int.mil.net.org It’s likely that you’ve seen or recognize most, if not all, of these gTLDs. Because of how recognizable these gTLDS are, domain names that include them are often considered more valuable than domain names using some of the more obscure TLDs developed in the past several years. gTLDs vs ccTLDs Top-level domains can be divided into multiple categories. Two of those are gTLDs, like the seven listed above, and ccTLDs, which stands for “country code top-level domains.”  Just like gTLDs, ccTLDs are represented by a string of letters that come immediately after the dot in a web address. Unlike gTLDs, ccTLDs designate a country, autonomous territory, or sovereign state. If a web address includes a ccTLD, it’s safe to assume that the website refers to a specific geographic location. A report was released in 2018 that listed the 10 most popular ccTLDs in the world. Here they are, in order of relevance. .cn – China.tk – Tokelau.de – Germany.uk – United Kingdom.ru – Russia.nl – Netherlands.br – Brazil.eu – European Union.fr – France.au – Australia Compared to gTLDs, ccTLDs help websites target internet users in their geographic region. Many ccTLD domain name owners believe that using a specialized ccTLD gives them a competitive advantage. Some ccTLDs, like .ca or .us, have geographic restrictions on who can register and use them. The Top Four gTLDs Over 1,000 TLDs are available on the internet and many of them hint at a website’s function (.coffee, .travel, etc.), but the most common TLDs were designed to be open-ended. Four of the top gTLDs in registration volume include: .com.net.org.co Each of these TLDs offers domain name owners unique advantages. We’ll dive a little deeper into their origins, and how they can be used most effectively. .com .com has remained popular ever since the first wave of gTLDs was released, and as a result, is the most recognized top-level domain. The “com” in .com stands for “commercial”.com is the most widely used gTLD of all time.com is the most recognized gTLD of all time Originally intended for use by for-profit, commercial businesses, .com became the go-to extension for the majority of websites. If someone has the chance to register a domain name with a .com gTLD, they should seriously consider taking advantage of the opportunity. Here’s why: Familiarity: Almost every internet user has typed “.com” at some point in time (if not on a daily basis) and that’s led to an implicit authority possessed by all .com websites. People tend to trust .com websites as they see them all the time and are most familiar with them. SEO Favorability: SEO experts agree that many search engines are biased towards .com websites as .coms are widely used and frequently searched. So websites with a .com domain name have a higher chance of appearing towards the top of search results.   .net There’s no debating the dominance of the .com gTLD, but there’s also no debating the strength of the gTLDs trailing right behind it in registration volume. The “net” in .net stands for “network”.net has been a gTLD since the 80s.net is one of the most popular gTLDs available The word “network” suggests that the .net gTLD was originally intended for tech-based companies and industries. It’s frequently used for websites that advertise, promote, and sell web-based services. Since fewer .net domain names have been registered than .com domain names, companies or individuals have a higher chance of securing the .net domain name that best fits their brand.   .org .org is another gTLD that’s available for anyone to register. However, its original purpose was to indicate websites belonging to non-profits, NGOs, and other organizations. Like .net and .com, .org is one of the oldest and most credible gTLDs available. The “org” in .org stands for “organization”.org websites often focus on community building .org websites are normally seen as trustworthy. Some of the most famous .orgs, like Wikipedia, have done a lot to bolster the credibility of this classic gTLD. .org is often associated with websites that impart reliable information, but it’s also commonly used to register websites that serve as an online home for communities of people with similar interests. .org is a powerful choice for SEO. While it may not have the same amount of pull as .com does with search engines, it still performs well as it falls in the second tier of preferred gTLDs (along with .net.) Although .org was originally intended for nonprofits, a lack of regulation has essentially eliminated that restriction, making it possible to secure your ideal domain name with a .org gTLD. There are millions of registered .org domain names, but not as many as .com, so you may have a better chance getting the domain name you want with this gTLD. .co Of all gTLDs, .co might have the most interesting backstory. Most of the gTLDs we’ve discussed have been around almost as long as the internet has, but .co came much later as it was introduced at the same time as other ccTLDs. The “co” in .co officially stands for Colombia but it’s changed to stand for “commercial” or “company”.co is a trendy option for many companies and startups who want to separate themselves from older, more traditional .coms. .co is the only TLD on this list that was originally created to be used exclusively as a country code. There are several reasons that this extension gained popularity in the last decade. The first reason is distinction. Startups and companies are always looking for ways to distinguish themselves from their competition. One of the best ways to do this is by distancing your company from previous generations, those same generations that all obsessed over the .com gTLD. .co is seen as a forward-thinking, fashionable TLD. While .com clearly indicates “.commercial,” .co can suggest “company,” “corporation,” as well as “commercial.” By opting for a .co TLD, you have a higher chance of securing your ideal domain name. Businesses have swept up .com domain names for decades, but .co is still relatively new and hasn’t been abundantly registered.   How to Register a Domain Name and gTLD The best way to register a domain name and gTLD is through an ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) accredited online registrar, like us, Domain.com. We offer a domain search tool that allows you or your business to search for your desired domain name. If no exact match is available, we’ll show you a list of domain names that are available and associated with the keyword or phrase you searched. How Much Does it Cost to Register? Because certain gTLDs and ccTLDs are more popular than others, prices between them tend to vary. Some TLDs cost $9.99 and others cost $2.99 to register for a year. You can find the perfect domain name for your business here and register it for a period of 1 to 5 years. Recapping gTLDs Many popular gTLDs have been around since the 80s. These gTLDs include .com, .net, and .org, among others. When you register a domain using one of these TLDs, your website gains an implicit authority based on the familiarity most internet users have with those gTLDs. Registering a gTLD is simple, and can be done at low costs through domain name registrars like us, Domain.com. Choosing a domain name and finding a reliable web hosting company has never been easier. Sources: Guilon, J. (2019, April 8). March 2019: Which New gTLDs Are Becoming Mainstream? http://www.circleid.com/posts/20190408_march_2019_which_new_gtlds_are_becoming_mainstream/ Top-Level Domains (gTLDs). (n.d.).https://archive.icann.org/en/tlds/ Usage of Top-Level Domains for Websites 2018. (2018, June 20). https://www.statista.com/statistics/265677/number-of-internet-top-level-domains-worldwide The post What Is a Generic Top-Level Domain? appeared first on Domain.com | Blog.

What Is a Marketing Funnel and Why Do You Need One?

What actions do you want customers to take on your website? Depending on your business it may vary from purchasing a product, getting more information, subscribing to your blog, or donating money to your cause. When a customer completes the action you want them to take it’s called a conversion. You can encourage conversions by refining your marketing funnel. We’re going to explain what a marketing funnel is, how to identify yours, and how you can improve your funnel for increased results. It all starts with the right domain. Get yours today at Domain.com. What’s a marketing funnel? Marketing funnels represent the steps prospective customers take on their journey to becoming an actual customer. Funnels are broken down into different sections, each designed to represent a pivotal moment someone can have with your business. They’re a way of understanding your customer’s experience. It starts the second someone learns about your business and it continues through the moment that they become a customer. Successful funnels encourage customer advocacy, loyalty, and repeat business. A healthy funnel looks like this: As you move down the funnel there are fewer people at each step. Not everyone who visits your site becomes a customer, right? Optimizing your funnel increases the number of people who make it all the way through. In order to refine your customer’s experiences and your funnel, you need to understand what happens at each step. Breaking down the funnel Each section of the funnel represents a pivotal moment in your customer’s journey. Marketing Efforts/SEO: Your marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts aren’t technically part of the funnel, but they do influence the user experience and willingness to move through the funnel. Think of your marketing efforts as food for your funnel. Without any marketing or SEO efforts, prospective customers won’t know you exist and can’t find their way to your website. Marketing efforts can include having active social media profiles for your business, a blog, email newsletters, and any other content created for your site or products. Your marketing efforts directly affect awareness of your business or site. Awareness: This lives at the top of the funnel and goes hand-in-hand with your marketing efforts. At this stage, people are finding your website and discovering what it is you offer. They’re learning about you on your own territory (your site or retail store). Interest: Once someone’s aware that you exist, one of two things will happen: you’ll pique their interest or they’ll leave your site having decided that their needs can’t be met by your offerings. To increase the number of interested parties, make sure your site has clear CTAs (Call-to-Actions) and a good user experience. If you’ve explained and positioned your offerings clearly people will take greater interest in your services and move further down the funnel. Evaluation: They’re aware, they’re interested, and now they’re seriously considering your product. Many things can happen in the evaluation step: prospective customers are trialing your goods or services, or perhaps they’re taking advantage of your free initial consultations. People at the evaluation stage are on the cusp of becoming paying customers. Conversion: This is the moment you’ve been working for. Conversions happen when site visitors complete the action(s) you want them to take. Conversions can include purchasing an item or signing up for your webinars and blog posts. When someone converts, you earn a customer or client. Loyalty and Advocacy: Sometimes, you’ll find loyalty and advocacy described as two distinct parts of the funnel, but they go hand in hand. Treating customers well and providing good experiences for them will earn you their loyalty and a loyal customer is a repeat customer. These customers are also more likely to recommend your product or service to people they know. Customer advocacy and recommendations can make a world of difference. Convince and convert did a recent study and found that “50% of Americans would choose word of mouth if they had to pick one source of information” — so provide an experience and product you’d be proud to have people talk about and recommend. Customer advocacy is free advertising for you! Keep in mind that repeat customers go through the funnel every time they purchase an item from you. Don’t get lax with your website experience or product offerings, because you want them to make it all the way through the funnel each time they visit. What’s your funnel look like? Now that you know what a funnel looks like, put yourself in a potential customer’s shoes to explore your funnel. Ask yourself these questions: Where can they find out about my business?Do you have enough of a digital presence for people to know you exist? Take stock of your social media profiles, marketing materials and efforts to identify and address any opportunities.Is my content interesting?Pumping out content for the sake of having content isn’t a great strategy. Make sure your content speaks to your desired audience. Who do you want as a customer? What are their needs? Do I provide enough opportunities for engagement?As people evaluate your product or service they’re going to have questions. You, or a support team, should be available to address them. Consider offering a free trial or consultation if you provide a service. What’s my checkout process like?If your checkout process is clunky and cumbersome then you’re in trouble. You want your visitors to move seamlessly from evaluation to conversion.Am I encouraging happy customers to leave reviews and talk about my business?Word of mouth brings in new customers. Encourage existing customers to leave a review on your Facebook page or other outlet where it can easily be found by others. It all starts with the right domain. Get yours today at Domain.com. Do what’s best for your business Reviewing and optimizing your marketing funnel should increase your site traffic, spike visitor interest, and most importantly — bring in the customers. Use the marketing funnel description we provided to understand the different steps along your customer’s journey. Once you understand what that journey looks like, pretend you’re a potential customer to evaluate your specific funnel. It wouldn’t hurt to ask a friend or person you trust for their feedback, too. Do you have any tips or tricks when it comes to improving marketing funnels? Let us know in the comments. The post What Is a Marketing Funnel and Why Do You Need One? appeared first on Domain.com | Blog.

Website Hosting vs Website Builder

If you’re trying to launch your first website, you’re probably dealing with information overload. There are these things called domains you need to buy, web hosting services, website builders, and then HTML, CSS, and other coding languages are woven into this double helix of jargon that’s constantly evolving. If you’re a bit confused, worry not. In this guide we’re going to: Break down the differences between web hosting vs. website builder Explain the benefits of each Show you how to get started What is Web Hosting? When you rent a home, you’re paying for a piece of real estate to live in. Usually you fill this home with your own furniture and memorabilia, making it feel like your own. Web hosting follows the same principle, except you’re paying for a home in what is called a “server,” where the data, content, and the information of your website will live. In order for you to claim this piece of real estate on the internet, you must pay to have it hosted. The bigger the piece you want, or the bigger your website, the more you’re going to have to pay. But, at the most fundamental level, web hosting offers  a plot for people to build websites on. When it comes to the debate of “web hosting vs website builder,” a website builder would be useless if not for hosting services — how can you build if you don’t have land, or a server, to build on? What is a Website Builder? If you’ve ever wondered, “What is a website builder?” you can think of it this way: it’s a tool that allows beginners and experts alike to build a website, without needing to know code. The pre-coded platforms work by providing a large variety of website templates and themes to choose from, which can then be customized and tailored to your needs. These tools are built to be user-friendly and often come with tutorials and technical support seeing as they’re designed to complement the DIY (do it yourself) method. Since website builders exist on servers that users can access anywhere they have internet, they are in a certain sense also hosting your website. The sites are hosted on these servers regardless of whether or not a website is finished or launched. By returning to the real estate metaphor, think of website builder hosting like owning some acreage and slowly building atop the land. Once the home is complete and you’re done building, it’ll still be “hosted” on that land. It all starts with the right domain. Get yours today at Domain.com. Types of Web Hosting Web hosting is an umbrella term and it refers to the act of renting space on a server; there are more specific types that fall beneath it. To understand the differences between web hosting and a website builder, it’s important that we break it down. The four most common types of web hosting are: Shared HostingVPS HostingDedicated HostingWebsite Builder Hosting Shared Hosting Shared hosting is like an apartment complex; multiple small businesses rent apartments and share the resources. It’s the most affordable and popular type of hosting available, and usually it’s the first type of hosting used by different companies and individuals as they launch their website. This type of hosting is perfect for people who have relatively small websites and have less custom or elaborate needs. There are often storage limitations and can be limited to one or a few websites that you own. Dedicated Hosting Dedicated hosting is more expensive, and rightfully so as it’s a personalized type of hosting. On a dedicated host, a company or individual has a server all to themselves. They don’t share any resources, nor do they allow for any third party to rent or squat on their space. This allows for a full customization of the server, a higher bandwidth for traffic, and better security. If you have a bigger business or a website that experiences high volumes of traffic, take a close look at dedicated hosting. VPS Hosting The acronym “VPS” stands for Virtual Private Server. Think of this type of hosting as a hybrid between dedicated and shared. This “combination” hosting is reflected in both its price-point and functionality. With VPS hosting you’ll still share a server, but each company or individual on it has their own dedicated piece. What does that mean for you? It allows for more traffic while experiencing less slowdowns, and a bit more flexibility regarding customization. If you’re a small business that’s seeing growth and venturing into the mid-sized business territory, VPS could be a great fit. Website Builder Hosting You can use a website builder with any of the hosting types discussed above. However, keep in mind that all Website Builders are in a sense hosts. Think of it this way: no matter if you’re a big business or a small business, you want a quick and easy way of creating a beautiful, functional website. That’s what Website Builder is for. But, if you are a  business or organization that needs to accommodate high customer traffic and secure their information,you’d want to invest in a more advanced hosting option (like a Dedicated Server.) If you’re an individual or small business whose website doesn’t get a lot of traffic (yet) then you can use Website Builder to create your site and keep it “hosted” there as you build and grow. Check out Domain.com’s Website Builder — with every domain name purchase you receive a free, basic Website Builder that’s good for creating a 6-page website. If you’re using Website Builder Hosting as your primary hosting then it’s a good idea to also look at options that provide more security and room for growth of your website. A Comparison of Website Hosting and Website Builder When comparing web hosting and a website builder, semantics play a major role in defining the two. Here are some points to use to compare these products: Web hosting allows an individual or company to rent a space on a server, which will host all the data and information of their given website. This space can take many different forms and is often chosen based specifically on the needs and budgetary requirements of an individual or enterprise A website builder cannot host more than one website or act as a server for anything other than the website you’re building with it. It’s not designed as a hosting platform, it’s both a storage locker and construction ground for your website. Remember, “website builder hosting” is a bit misleading, what’s being hosted is the Website Builder software, not the website being created by the Website Builder.Web hosting is rented space or digital real estate, it’s not a service that allows you to build a website. If you purchased hosting and want to build your website with it, you’re putting the cart before the horse. Think of it this way: you need a website in order to host it. Some hosting packages will offer tools to build a website, but that’s an added feature and not a standard feature of web hosting.A website builder allows the user to actually create the website they’re going to host on a server. Website builders provide pre-coded and templatized “sections of websites” that you get to put together and customize to create your own website. Domain.com’s Website Builder offers drag and drop functionality, making it a breeze to use. At its core, the main difference is that web hosting is a piece of land, while a website builder is what allows the construction to happen atop that land. A Website Builder Explained As we mentioned, a website builder is a software platform used to build a website. Engineered for both experts and beginners alike, they are usually offered alongside a hosting platform to create an all-inclusive package. There are two types of website builders: An online website builder – the website builder is hosted on the same server as the website and can be accessed anywhere there’s internet. This means that the user will never have to download or install software and can access their “build” — at any stage — so long as they have a healthy internet connection. These are more common than the following type.An offline website builder – typically thought to be geared more towards users with technical knowhow, an offline website builder is exactly as it sounds; a platform that works offline. This means the user will have to download the software and save the files locally, then upload them onto a server once they want to launch the website If you choose to use a website builder hosting package that doesn’t mean that you’re bound to that specific hosting plan once your website has been built. It all starts with the right domain. Get yours today at Domain.com. What Should I Expect (And Want) from a Website Builder? A quality website builder provides all the tools you need to build, maintain, and expand upon a website. A few common things to expect are: Variety of Templates The allure of using a website builder is that it’s pre-coded. This means that someone with zero knowledge of coding can utilize the user interface to create their own website. This is done by way of templates. Each website builder will have their own catalogue of templates which are  pre-coded, designed, and color coordinated. Once selected, these templates can be customized to fit a brand or personality. Functionality A good Website Builder will have an image editor, “drag and drop” functionality, and customizable templates. The functionality of a website builder should be easy to use and versatile. Mobile Formatting It’s no secret that people are just as likely to visit your website on their mobile device as they are on their computer. Today, mobile formatting is not only important for websites, it’s an imperative. If the website builder that you’re considering doesn’t format for mobile, run away. You can’t risk losing customers because a website doesn’t load properly on their mobile device. User-Friendly Interface & Technical Support Website builders are designed to be user-friendly, allowing even the most computer illiterate of us to easily create a site. To that end, every website builder should be backed by a reputable and diligent technical customer support team. If anything in the website happens to break, or if certain pieces aren’t fitting together, then a good provider would offer customer support to troubleshoot the problem. Analytics Tools & SEO Analytics and SEO (search engine optimization) are now utilized by every successful website, so you should expect your website builder to offer some form of both. This can mean offering a flawless integration of Google Analytics, or even some ground level keyword generation for SEO. These types of tools will allow a user to understand how well they’ve positioned themselves on the internet, what they’re doing wrong, and where to improve. Key Takeaways When it comes to spelling out the differences between web hosting and a website builder, it’s best to separate them entirely. Some key takeaways: Web hosting hosts both websites and website builders but by its definition is incapable of building a website.A website builder does not host a website so that consumers can access on the internet. Rather, it hosts the tools and pieces needed to create that website, allowing the user to build.Both web hosting and website builders work best in packages, where a website builder is utilized to create a website, then the website is hosted through the same bundle It all starts with the right domain. Get yours today at Domain.com. I Understand Now, How Do I Get Started? Now that you understand there is no choosing one or the other, rather it’s about working to integrate both web hosting and a website builder, how do you get started? First, you need a domain name. Your domain name is going to be the name of your website, which should hopefully align with your brand or company. From there, you can choose what type of hosting and website builder package you want. If you’re still confused about all the options or have any questions regarding domains, hosting services, and website builders, then feel free to reach out to the experts at Domain.com and they’ll provide the answers you’re looking for. You don’t need to be an expert coder to create a fantastic website, you just need a solid website builder and a decent web hosting plan. Sources: Domain.com https://www.domain.com/website-builder Percentage of mobile device website traffic worldwide from 1st quarter 2015 to 4th quarter 2018 https://www.statista.com/statistics/277125/share-of-website-traffic-coming-from-mobile-devices/ The post Website Hosting vs Website Builder appeared first on Domain.com | Blog.

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