One of the challenges that we have as we create and share online content is that other businesses control or in some cases “own” our content. As an example of this, many people suggest that their main home on the Internet is their Facebook or LinkedIn page. The problem is that if either of these companies were to change their business model or close down, you would lose all of the content that you’ve shared there.
In this post, I will to discuss the basics of registering a domain and hosting a website. There are many hosting companies, but I use and value my service from MadBeeTech Web Hosting.
Because of the reasons indicated above (and many more), I believe that it is important for you to own and maintain your own space online. I believe that our schools should help prepare us for this environment by starting this domain as we enter the educational system. In a series of upcoming posts provide more guidance to develop your online home. As you begin this process, it is important to understand some of the basics of hosting your own website.
One analogy used to understand the connection between a domain and hosting is to compare your website to a house. The address of the house is the domain name. The complete house is the web hosting. Inside of the house, and included on the property is all of the data, files, and cat GIFS that make up your website.
What is a domain?
A domain, or more accurately a domain name is the naming system for given to addresses of web servers and web pages. It is a memorable and easy to spell part of the address of a webpage and website. Behind the domain name is also the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the various webpages and websites. Most people are not interested in the IP address of a website and instead focus on the domain name when connecting to this information. The domain name is meant to be a more usable, memorable name for the website, whereas the IP address is the technical address of the web host.
Domain names are organized right to left. The general descriptors, or the “top level domain” (TLD) is to the far right. More specific descriptors are included to the left. Levels of domains are separated by periods or “dots.” The machine name, often “www” is sometimes included all of the way to the left, but this is less frequently included.
Most U.S. servers use three letter TLDs (.com, .edu, .net). Countries outside of the U.S. more often use two letter TLDs (.au, .jp, .ca). Each of these TLDs has a specific reason for its use, and is organized by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
While we’re here, we should understand that the domain name is not the same thing as the URL for a webpage. To be technically correct, the domain name is part of a larger address for the website known at the uniform resource locator (URL). The URL goes into much greater detail than the domain name by providing information about the specific page address, folder name, machine name, and date. If you’re using an SEO firm such as MadBeeTech SEO at seo.madbeetech.com for search engine optimization, that business will likely suggest that you either include an important keyword as part of your domain name or, if you’re choosing your domain name for branding purposes (such as picking a name that matches your company name), then include keywords within the file names of articles you post.
Web hosting is a service that allows organizations and individuals to post a website or web page on to the Internet. A web host, or web hosting service provider, is a business that provides the technologies and services needed for the website or webpage to be viewed in the Internet. Web hosting services store your website files in high-powered computers (web servers) connected to a very fast network.
When you make a website and want other people to see it, you will need to publish (or upload) it online using a web hosting service. You can then allow others to view your website by just typing your website address into their browser. Their computer will then connect to your server and your webpages will be delivered to them through the browser. If you aren’t technically minded, or want a more sophisticated site (such as one that sells downloadable files), then you should use a host like MadBeeTech. This web host’s plan includes a site builder that allows people of any level of sophistication to easily create a nice looking website that is sure to fill all their needs.
There are many options to host your website for free. I frequently use Google Sites, Wikispaces, Weebly, Wix, and WordPress.com in my classes or with students. Once again, you are trusting these businesses with your content if you utilize these free services. If you have content that you want to make sure it stays online, you need to consider paying for hosting. See this article for more on business websites.