Confused about the difference between a domain host, a web host, a server, and a platform? Not sure what you’re being charged for? If it’s your first time buying a website, getting overwhelmed by all the terms and price-tags is common and perfectly understandable. This article will help you learn terms and definitions to guide you towards making informed financial decisions about your website.
You might be tempted to believe that getting started with a website is inexpensive, easy to set up and requires very little maintenance. This is generally how websites are marketed to us, but it’s not exactly the truth. A successful website begins with research and purpose, and maintaining a website is a part-time to a full-time job. Bottom line, if you aren’t ready to invest time and money into a website at this time, you should absolutely not buy one.
Websites and web services generally run on the subscription financial model and you can quickly find yourself paying for things or going into debt over things that aren’t providing you value. You can, and should, start your research now though if you intend to purchase a website at some point. If you’re buying a website, having a plan will save you time, money, and lots of headaches in the future.
Hosting: The Difference between Web & Domain Hosting
Although Domain Hosts can provide Web Hosting Services, they aren’t actually the same service and you are in no way obligated to use the same Domain Host and Web Host for your site. Picking the right service provider comes down to preference. My only recommendation is to look for popular hosting providers that have good reviews, especially when it comes to support.
When looking to buy a website, the first thing you’re likely to look for is going to be your Domain Name, or in other words your Website Name and Web address. A domain looks like this domain-name.com or this domain.co You probably have an idea of what you want your business name to be and now you need to find an available domain name that will work.
Domain names are traditionally very cheap and Domain Hosts generally provide a simple way to search and purchase domain names for cheap. The important thing to note is that a Domain Name is not a Website. Your Domain is just the name and, in a way, it’s like purchasing a home address without purchasing the home.
A web host is, for all intents and purposes, the company you pay to ‘serve’ your website. It helps to think of the Web Host like a party host; they provide the place, organize the services, and make sure there’s enough room for your visitors. The value that they provide you is setting up and configuring your server to ensure that your website is being served to you and your site visitors and that it’s providing a good user experience. Web Hosting is going to be the first big ticket item you see. The cost of Web Hosting can vary from a hundred a year to thousands and what you pay for is generally what you get.
What is a good host?
A good Web Hosting provider is one that offers multiple hosting services so that you can find the right package for you, but also a company that provides good service. Do not waste money using a cheap Web Hosting service if you are going to get sub-par service. Your server will need adjusting as time goes on, and things are going to go wrong. Having good support is very important.
What kind of hosting do I need?
When buying a website, what kind of hosting you need depends on a few things like what kind of website are you building? Is it a blog, an e-commerce shop, or a company website? Do you expect to have a lot of traffic starting out, or will you be building an audience? What is your budget? If you have a lot to invest and you expect a great deal of site visitors then dedicated hosting is the way to go. However, If you have a limited budget, a shared server will likely suit you just fine.
For a shared hosting plan, the features in your bundle that suit your needs are what you’ll want to pay attention to. A valuable hosting plan will provide you an SSL certificate, Unlimited Storage, and Domain Privacy. If they offer CPU Optimizations, that will help your site be served faster to a bigger audience, so if you have it in the budget then that’s a valuable option.
Platforms: I’m buying a website, what kind of Content Management System is best for me?
Some of the most popular Website Platforms are WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, and Shopify. Some of these platforms offer domains, or web hosting, and some don’t. You don’t for any reason need to purchase your domain hosting, web hosting, or platform from the same company. Generally Content Management System (CMS) Platforms are free and the services like web and domain hosting are extra.
What is a Content Management System?
A Content Management System is just software that allows you to create & edit content. In other words what makes up your website is text, images, links, products etc. and that is all content. You need a place to edit your web pages, unless you’re building each web page with static HTML, in which case you probably don’t need this part of the article 😉
What Kind of Platform Do I Need to Buy For My Website?
WordPress is probably the best platform available for bloggers. If your revenue stream is dependent on blogging, you will likely find better third party services and partners if you are using WordPress. But, if you have products though, WordPress might be too slow for you or create extra hurdles and Shopify might be easier for you to integrate into your business processes. Of course, if all you need a website for is to provide information about your business, you may not need WordPress or Shopify. Something you find easy to use and to update easily would be the best decision for you in that case.
Purchasing Third Party Services for your website: SEO, Marketing, Social Media, and Web Design
What is SEO and Do I Need it?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. You do need your website to be Optimized for Search Engines, but paying an “SEO Expert” can be as dangerous as letting a family member do the electrical work on your house. You just never really know the quality of an SEO expert unless you can afford to pay a highly recognized service. Most of us can’t afford that and there are hundreds of free tools and information online about Optimizing your site for better Search Results. The absolute best place to get SEO advice is from the creators of the Search Engine rules, Google.
I’m buying a website, do I really need to pay for marketing?
Yes! You need to work a marketing budget into your Website Budget. Whether you plan to market your website using social media advertising or Google Ads, you’re going to need to get your site out in front of people. Organic Marketing (free marketing) does exist but it won’t be enough to get seen and turn a profit quickly. I definitely recommend also incorporating Organic Marketing techniques, but relying on this solely can be tough and demoralizing at first.
Do I need a Social Media Presence?
Yes you likely do need to be on social media and regularly engaging with your audience. The key is to choose the Social Media Platform that your audience is on. You aren’t likely to need to pay a company to handle your Social Media Marketing at first unless you’re a well funded start up. None-the-less a strong social media presence is the most effective Organic Marketing tool to increase website engagement and improve your Google Ranking.
Do I need a Web Designer?
A web designer can help you create your brand presence online, and how your website looks will reflect your Brand. What is important to note, when buying a website, is that you can end up getting more design than you need and too much design can slow down your website which will affect your site traffic and google ranking. Sites that focus too much on flashy design can also leave out entire demographics if the design isn’t accessible. If branding is key to your marketing plan, it might be worth looking for a company that can both optimize your site for page speed, while providing design and user experience expertise.