There are several words and phrases you hear again and again when you’re discussing your business website. One of these phrases might be “domain name,” and another is likely to be “web hosting.”
So, what do these phrases mean exactly? Let NEXT BASKET help you discover more as we analyze the sometimes confusing world of domains, web hosting providers, and building your online presence.
Get to know more about domains and hosting in our guide.
Your Domain Name: What Is It?
Your own website’s domain name is simply the title tag attached to the part of the internet your pages all share. You can think of a domain like online real estate – your company is located at a specific location online, with different departments and functions in different places on that same site.
The domain name itself is like the address for this online real estate. It is listed on the DNS (domain name system), which functions like a phonebook for the internet.
The actual address of your website is a numerical value, which will look similar to the IP addresses, (internet protocol addresses) attached to your devices when you connect to a network. This is what your computer and web browser use to identify your website. However, human internet users will find the domain name far easier to remember and recognize.
At NEXT BASKET, we use the domain name nextbasket.com. Our visitors access our website by typing this domain name into their web browser’s address bar and are taken directly to our page.
Parts of a Domain Name
Just like there are different parts of a physical address, there are different parts of a domain name, too.
This is the suffix that comes after the dot at the end of the website domain name. We use .com, but .org, .eu, .co.uk, .gov, .com.au, and other top-level domains are also common. This might also be known as a domain extension, which is appropriate because it extends your domain name by a few letters.
Second Level Domain
This is the part between the www. prefix and the top-level suffix. Our second level domain is nextbasket. The top and second levels comprise your primary domain – your main web address.
The subdomain is an optional part of the domain name. An example might be blog.[second level domain].[top level domain] – the blog. is the subdomain. This directs the user to a certain part of the site, but having this is unnecessary.
How to Choose a Domain Name
Your domain name is of huge importance to your business. It connects your website’s address to your brand identity and helps your customers to find you online.
With this in mind, how do you choose the right domain name? Here’s what NEXT BASKET recommends.
Lead With Your Brand
In the early days of the World Wide Web, it was common for brands to use a common keyword as their second-level domain name to dominate searches for this term. However, this is less common nowadays – your brand name needs to be the focal point of your domain so that your customers know exactly who they are dealing with.
Differentiate Your Identity
Some companies have similar names to one another, even if they operate in different industries. If this is the case for you and another company, you may want to ensure your domain names are not too similar, avoiding any confusion from your customers and leads.
Select a Reputable Top-Level Domain for Each Service Area
If you operate in Australia, you may need a .au top-level domain to show customers they are interacting with a reputable version of your Australian site. If you operate in the U.K., a .co.uk top-level domain will help you achieve the same. Select the appropriate top-level domain to gain the trust and confidence of local consumers.
Web Hosting: What Is It?
You might buy web hosting when you buy a domain name, maybe even from the same company, but the two concepts are fundamentally different.
While the domain name is the address that points users to your location online, web hosting provides this location. Web hosting involves storing the different components of your website on physical servers, where your user’s internet browser can access them.
Your browser uses the hypertext transfer protocol – the HTTP you will often see in your address bar – to access the website from the server and then display it on your device. Discover more about web hosting and the best options for you in NEXT BASKET’s handy guide.
Types of Web Hosting
There are different types of web hosting options to choose from. The right option depends on your specific needs and your budget.
Shared Web Hosting
Shared web hosting means your website is hosted on a shared server with other websites. Third-party servers and hosting providers have large amounts of resources that they rent or lease out to other users. If your business does not need, or cannot afford, to run a whole server by itself, a shared option may be the better bet.
These shared web hosting services are generally secure and stable. However – as the server architecture is shared with other users – it won’t be as secure and stable as the dedicated option.
Dedicated Web Hosting
With dedicated web hosting, you use a private server to host your website. All of this server’s resources are exclusively yours to use, hosting only what you choose to save to the server. Larger-scale and enterprise-level businesses may need a dedicated private server, as their requirements will likely be far greater than those of other businesses.
While a dedicated or private web hosting option is more secure than a shared plan and can provide more stability and less downtime, there are other things you’ll need to consider. To use this option, you’ll either need your own on-premises server or you’ll need to rent an entire server from a provider. Both these options can be costly and require significant resources.
VPS Web Hosting
VPS stands for virtual private server. Essentially, this type of web hosting combines aspects of shared and dedicated hosting and is becoming an increasingly attractive option for businesses.
With VPS web hosting, you share your server with other users, just like with shared web hosting. However, the VPS hosting technology creates partitions within this server, so you are effectively using your own private area of this server. Cloud hosting options typically use VPS technology, although there is still an underlying physical storage layer.
Businesses might choose this option for many reasons. The VPS technology makes it more secure than standard shared hosting, and it may also be more reliable as the VPS protects your area of the server from potential downtime.
You may also gain access to more bandwidth than you would on a shared server. Compared with dedicated web hosting, VPS hosting is much more cost-effective, as you do not need to rent or operate an entire server for yourself.
The Different Features of Your Web Hosting Solution
Your web hosting provider essentially sells you a product, similar to a software as a service, or SaaS, subscription. This provider gives you a physical space within which to store your website’s data and digital infrastructure. But what exactly are you paying for?
The NEXT BASKET team recommends looking out for some of these common web hosting solution features.
Bandwidth dictates how much activity can occur on the website at any time. Whenever a user visits your site, they are both sending and receiving data. They use more data when they watch a video or download a large file.
A high volume of users, all using a large amount of data, will require greater bandwidth. Larger-scale businesses, with high volumes of traffic and activity, will require a greater bandwidth from their web hosting company.
Disk space is the physical storage that supports your website. Just like your laptop or PC device has a physical hard drive where you save and store files, the server’s disk space works in much the same way.
Larger websites or organizations with many different web pages will need large amounts of disk space – these businesses may be better suited to renting an entire server or hosting their own server on-premises. Smaller or medium-sized organizations’ projects will not need so much disk space and may be better served by a shared server or a VPS option.
The period in which your website is available to users via the web is known as your uptime. Any time the site is unavailable, for whatever reason, this is known as downtime.
You want to achieve as great a proportion of uptime as possible, and your provider might guarantee up to 99%. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to guarantee 100% uptime, but aim to get as close to this as possible.
How a Domain Name Connects to Web Hosting
You need both a reliable web hosting service and a memorable domain name for your business. Remember that web hosting provides the online location for your website, while the domain name is the tag your website visitors will use to access this location. The two aspects are related, just like a physical building and a street address are.
When a user types the domain name into the address bar, the browser connects to the hosting server and requests data from the site. The HTTP protocol transfers that data, which the browser then renders in the browser window.
Sometimes, you may get a free domain name when you sign up for web hosting services, getting both domain and web hosting from the same service provider company. In other instances, you will need to buy a domain separately, and you may need to pay a domain registrar fee to complete the process and secure a registered domain name.
Choosing a Web Hosting Service That Matches Your Domain Needs
How do you choose the right web hosting service for your website?
At NEXT BASKET, we recommend considering these key factors when you select a web hosting service provider:
Scale and Capacity
Make sure you are not paying for more disk space and bandwidth than you need, but also ensure that your web hosting account can scale to meet your requirements in the future.
Smaller and medium-sized businesses may find that a shared server or VPS is the best option. Larger businesses may need more space and capability, and a full private server may be necessary.
You may need user support to get the best from your web hosting plan. Make sure this is available to you.
Uptime History and Protections
Downtime can be disastrous for your business, so you need a provider with a competitive uptime guarantee of 98% and above. Ask potential web hosting companies about the network and server protections they use and about their operational history.
Finally, your budget will play a big role in the decision-making process between hosting plans.
Domain and Hosting Management and Maintenance
Domain and hosting service providers should provide management and maintenance services as part of your subscription.
Our team at NEXT BASKET can help you with this. Here are a few things to look out for when you weigh up management and maintenance services.
Managing and Renewing Domain Name Registration
Domain name management should be relatively straightforward. Your service provider can make this even easier for you by using automations and dashboard features.
- Your domain name registration should renew automatically at the end of your registration period. This is often a 12-month rolling period, and the quoted price for your domain should not change.
- Your domain service provider should provide a digital dashboard where you can manage all your domain name and DNS settings and view your active domains in one central location.
- Your domain service provider may be able to offer redirects for domain names similar to your own as long as you also control them. Use redirects to cover common errors or spelling mistakes from customers when they type your website’s permanent address.
Managing Web Hosting Accounts and Services
Web hosting management can be a little more complex than domain name management.
However, a good service provider should still be able to make this simple for their clients:
- You will need a clear and well-designed interface where you can see the status of your current active hosting options.
- If you are using a VPS, you may want access to a self-service option to scale your capacity as required.
- You may need cloud hosting access, securely integrating your hosting solution with cloud-based applications for easy management of your website’s files.
- Your web host provider team will handle physical maintenance and inspection unless you are using a full-scale, self-managed dedicated server on your business premises.
Troubleshooting Common Issues With Domain and Hosting Connectivity
Let’s look at some of the most common issues with a web server.
Disconnection Between the Site and Web Servers
This can happen for several reasons, but the disconnection usually occurs upstream at the server. Your web hosting provider should be working to put this right.
The Connection Is Overloaded
The server may become overloaded if there are too many users or the activity level is too high. You may need to invest in a higher-capacity server.
Web Pages Are Slow to Load or Unresponsive
An overloaded server may also cause this, and you may need to invest in more capacity from your web hosts.
Looking for the best web hosting and domain name services for your business? Call on NEXT BASKET and find out how we can help.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need both a domain name and web hosting?
Yes, web hosting is your physical location online, and your domain name points to this. You need both.
What’s the connection between domain names and website servers?
Domain names help your browser find your website files on the server. Then, the browser uses the hypertext transfer protocol to display these files as a web page.
Can I get a domain name and website hosting service together?
In some cases, yes. Your website hosting service provider may also be able offer domain name registrations.