Establishing Your Web Presence

Part of the success of most home-based businesses is their web presence. After all, you want to benefit from the global exposure, reduced marketing expenses, and low entry costs. But to receive those benefits, you must first get your web site off the ground which means you need to select an effective domain name and find reliable web hosting.

The tips below can help you accomplish both goals successfully.

Picking a Domain Name

When it comes to choosing your web site's domain name, you need to keep a few things in mind:

1. Your domain name should relate directly to the product or service you provide. Avoid picking a name that is vague or misrepresents your company.

2. Your domain name should be easy to remember. Keep the name as short as possible, but do not use unconventional spellings or add hyphens just to secure a version of the name you want.

3. Your domain name should be simplistic. Do not pick words which may be difficult to spell or which have multiple spellings. Also, select words and phrases that are common and easy to pronounce, especially if you are aiming your business toward the general public.

4. Your domain name should be a .com address whenever possible. Avoid selecting the less common extensions which cost more to register and which will be largely unfamiliar to your clients.

Once you do select a domain name, you should consider registering other variations of the name. That way if someone uses the wrong extension or adds a hyphen, he or she still end up right where you want them.

Here are some good places to register your domain:

http://www.godaddy.com (Recommended)
http://www.networksolutions.com

Choosing Web Hosting

You could literally go crazy trying to compare all of the hundreds of hosting plans and providers on the market. To narrow down your options, talk to friends and business associates who have professional web sites.

Ask them which providers they use or recommend. A number of Internet sites, such as CNET and Epinions, allow users to share their thoughts about web hosting companies, so their input could be valuable in your search also.

Once you've found a manageable number of potential providers, you can begin to compare plans. Here are a few things you should focus on:

? Money Back Guarantee - Many providers offer a 30-Day money back guarantee so that you can try their service risk free. Always look for this option so you don't get stuck with a service you're unhappy with.

? Storage Space - This is the amount of room you will have for your site. Of course, you don't want to pay for room you don't need, but you also want room to grow. If you've a small site in mind 10-15 MB should be sufficient to begin with.

? Bandwidth/Data Transfer - Data transfer (bandwidth usage) refers to how much data/information is sent to or received from your hosting account on the server over a specified period of time. Usually it is measured monthly.

More the visitors to your site, more bandwidth you'll require. Small sites usually suffice with 1 GB/month.

? Site Speed - This is very important factor while considering a hosting service. This will decide how fast your site loads when some one visits your site. Online surfers are extremely busy, so you need a fast server. Or else they will leave your site even before it gets loaded!

You may ask your hosting provider to provide you with a list of their client's sites (if they can) for checking their speed. Here's a good tool to check a site's speed:

http://www.hostpulse.com/app/networktools/ping.asp

? Customer Service - You strive to provide exceptional service and you should expect nothing less from your web hosting company. Look for multiple methods of receiving service, such as a toll-free phone number or live chat. You may also want to consider testing their response time in advance.

? Uptime Guarantee - Your web site is like your store. If your store is closed, you aren't making any money. The same is true if your web site is down. You should only choose a plan that provides at least a 99% uptime guarantee.

? Cost - Price should also be a deciding factor. Cheaper is not always better, but there are reasonable rates for quality hosting available if you do your research.

Never pay for a full year of service upfront, though you are likely to pay less in the long run. You have to take into consideration their after sales service too.

Also, as far as possible, try to choose a hosting company that allows easy upgrade/downgrade between plans. This way you can trim down your costs to the maximum.

Using these tips and suggestions, you should easily be on your way to establishing a successful web presence and to reaping all the benefits the Internet has to offer.

Also read:

http://www.epinions.com/inet-Web_Hosting_Topics-Selection_Criteria
http://www.webhostmagazine.com/hf/choose.asp

Vishal P. Rao is the owner of: http://www.work-at-home-forum.com/ An online community of people who work at home.

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