Whether you are a blogger or a business, a website is an important tool for gathering information, interaction and e-Business which includes e-Commerce. However, having a website for the sake of having one can turn out to be more detrimental that it is helpful to your person or organisation. Poorly designed and developed websites equally scare away visitors and are in turn ranked low on search engines.
As a starting point, one needs to decide on an appropriate domain to improve the website’s image. A well formulated domain allows your website to begin building itself up as a professional resource for your targeted visitors.
What is a domain and why it is important?
Just like a company is registered with the registrar of companies in the physical world, registration on the internet is done through a domain. Domains are web addresses pointing to a server space (IP Address) where your website and other resources like emails reside on the internet. This allows visitors and prospects to remember your website without relying on search engines. An ‘easy-to-remember’ domain is good for search engine crawling and at the same time makes spreading by word of mouth easier.
Local domains have top level extensions like .co.zw (dot company, dot Zimbabwe) for companies, .ac.zw (dot academic, dot Zimbabwe) for research and academic institutions and .org.zw (dot organisation, dot Zimbabwe) for not for profit organisations. International domain extensions are unlimited and span from the traditional .com (commercial), .org (organisation), .net (network) to .online, .systems, .africa, .me etc. Choice of the top level domain depends with the scope of the business (local or international) as well as the targeted audience. International domains appeals to the international community and are taken faster that local domains and so, funds permitting, I advice to register both extensions and point to the same server if the focus is to grow the business international at some point.
What are Subdomains?
A subdomain is an extension of the top-level domain. Often, subdomains are used to point to extensions of the same site for instance blogs, news, forums, shops, support etc. For instance, if the domain is www.index.co.zw a subdomain for the their online shop would be shop.index.co.zw, and for articles would be blog.index.co.zw.
Why custom website domains?
- Memorable to visitors – custom domains gives an undiluted view by the visitors. Running you website on free hosting subdomains makes you site look like its an extension of the host e.g solarpro.index.co.zw dilutes the Solar Brand online.
- URLs and email addresses are entirely your own If you receive emails from visitors or URLs to your website are shared with a custom web address, they are entirely your own. People you interact with associate your domain with your business or blog when they see your email address or see a URL posted to your website or social media platforms.
- Visitors take your business seriously Visitors to your website automatically assume you are unable to afford or unwilling to register a custom domain when you utilize a free subdomain. This can tarnish the appearance of your business, which in turn can hinder you from reaching your goals. Visitors recognize a website with a customized web address as one that is both serious and professional.
- You are in control of your email addresses Free hosts typically force you to utilize one or two email addresses when they allow you to have one. These look tacky and may appear as spam due to their randomized nature. Custom web domains allow you to set up any email address, which even includes email@example.com, for use as your email address.
- Your website becomes more flexible A custom domain allows you to modify your website at your leisure. You can create subdomains, such as blog.mydomain.com or specials.mybusiness.org, that can make it significantly easier for visitors to reach certain parts of your website or blog. This facilitates interaction and increases the usefulness of your website to visitors.
- You can host your website where you wantBecause the link between your visitors and your website becomes your domain, you can host your website wherever or however you would like. This allows you to pick a host that suits your needs or provides a more reliable service.
- No more provider restrictions on your website The best advantage of a custom web address is the fact that you can run your website as you want. You no longer have to comply with the restrictions set forth by a provider, as you are now free to host your own website. This power can increase the diversity of your content, make it easier to interact with your customers, and allow you to provide new and innovative features to your visitors.