Today I wanted to chat about the technical side of blogging and how getting it right can be great for your business. The technical side of things is something I’ve learnt along the way; after many years of struggle, so I thought today’s post might be of use for those newer to blogging: I’m going to chat all about what domains are, hosting, what ‘DA’ means, its importance and more.
What is a domain and do I need to buy one?
We all have a domain- it’s our website address. However, usually, when we refer to ‘domain’ we talk about owning our own so we don’t have the .blogspot or .wordpress at the end of our URL. Owning your domain is the first step you should take as a blogger in my opinion: even if you’ve only been doing it for a few weeks. Owning your own domain is inexpensive (usually around fifteen pounds a year) and helps with…
- Looking more professional: I do lots of blog outreach and I rarely work with bloggers who have a .blogspot or .wordpress address; as to me this marks them out as a new blogger. At the end of the day, if you don’t feel you can invest a small amount in your blog, why should I invest in working with you? Having your own address from the outset shows you mean business.
- Paid Work: Domain authority (more on that in a mo) is one of many blogging ‘metrics’ that signals your authority. Without a domain, you don’t have any domain authority. Your DA can lead to paid work.
- SEO help. Having a high domain can also help with SEO. More authoritative sites have higher DAs and therefore will possibly show higher in search engines. Search engines don’t just rely on this, but it will certainly help.
In most cases, it’s best to go with the .com domain for your blog; however, if you feel your blog is country specific (in my case, I want my audience to be UK bloggers largely so went for the .co.uk version) then a country-specific domain might be better. I would not recommend quirkier extensions, like .me and .info as many of these are not given a DA ranking (more on that below).
What is domain authority and how can it help me?
DA is a measure of how ‘authoritative’ your domain or URL is. The higher your domain, the more authoritative your site is. Which is why sites like The Guardian have domains of almost 100 and new bloggers have domain authorities of 0. It shows who we can trust-whose been around for longer and who is linked to more frequently. You can check your blog’s DA score by the MOZ toolbar.
Domain authority increases when…
- your blog gets older. So this is why I would recommend getting a domain RIGHT NOW even if you don’t feel like working on your blog.
- Other sites link to it. When first starting this site, I set myself a goal of guest posting on 10 sites. I spent 30 minutes-1 hour each day on guest content to help grow my name.
Therefore, to increase your DA:
- Guest post for others.
- Participate in roundup requests.
- Collaborate with other bloggers.
- Write amazing content that will naturally be linked to.
- The more authoritative the site, the more beneficial the link so focus on guest blogging for those with high DAs.
- Interlink in your blog posts too-internal links between blog posts on your site can help! For example, in a moment I’ll share some of more blog posts you might want to read.
Enjoying this? Why not read…
How I turned my blog into a job
How to go from blogger to freelance writer
How will a high DA earn me money?
As you can imagine, a high DA is very valuable for companies- as is the chance to be linked by lots of other sites. Some bloggers with a high DA charge for sponsored posts and include a ‘link back’ to the company’s site. This ‘link back’ helps pass on some authority/link to the brand; helping boost their own DA and potentially their rank in search engines. However, this is only the case if it’s a follow link. I’ve done a little video explaining the difference between follow and no follow links below as it gets a bit tricky….
So one way to make money for your blog, is charging companies for sponsored content or links. If these links are ‘follow links’; the company will benefit more and the higher your DA, the more beneficial your links are (and the more companies will pay for them).
Just in case you didn’t watch the video, paying for links goes AGAINST google guidelines; which means it’s something bloggers weigh up carefully. It isn’t breaking the law but it means Google can blacklist you and stop you receiving traffic from the search engine.
However, whilst most brands who ask about your DA will be interested in follow-links; it can still show the authority of site (in terms of how many people are linking to the content) so it is still a metric PRs might consider and still worth being aware of even if you don’t charge for links.
What is the difference between having your own domain and self-hosting?
Having your own domain is very straightforward and a great way to start taking your blog seriously. ‘Hosting’ your own site does not impact DA. Usually, when we start blogging, we host via WordPress or Blogspot. ‘Self-Hosting’ means we host the content( through a third party). Self-hosting is beneficial because it gives you much more freedom beyond wordpress.com or blogspot. For example:
- There’s usually more flexibility and freedom in what your blog can look like;and you will have more flexibility in dividing your blog.
- You have complete control of your site.
- You can advertise more freely- there is some talk that advertising on a blogspot/wordpress.com could be against the rules but I have not tried this to comment on it.
- You can use plugins. This is 100% the most important one for me. There are SO many plugins to help your blog grow and work more efficiently: from the Yoast plugin to make SEO so simple to the ones that help your readers Pin easily or others that allow you to entice your reader to sign up for your mailing list. I’ve lost count of the number of plugins I have experimented with and they make such a difference to my blog.
Self-Hosting is reasonably cheap in your first year, so if you’ve made any money at all; I’d recommend putting it back into hosting. I previously used Siteground- for my hosting and they do have some very good introductory offers. Siteground was a good beginners choice for me and I thought their technical support was great at first.
I was with Siteground for around three years but as I then owned three blogs and my blogs grew and grew; it kept crashing and going down-and my hosting became more expensive. I needed solutions and Siteground kept trying to encourage to pay a site developer rather than helping my fixing them. I ended up moving to Lyrical Host and am much happier. Note I am an affiliate both these companies but, as always, these are my honest thoughts (I am also approached to be an affiliate for other hosting companies and always say no as I do not have first-hand experiences of them.)
If you’re completely new to hosting, Siteground might work out cheaper for your first year (especially if your traffic isn’t high or you just own one blog and therefore you shouldn’t have my issues). However, Lyrical Host allows you to pay monthly with no commitment, which is a big advantage.
Lyrical Host is also run with bloggers in mind which is another big advantage; since they don’t expect you to have the techincal knowledge; do the migration for you without any fee and you get lots of bonuses (such as lovely, blogger-friendly stock images). You can use my code BLOGLANCER to get 10% off your hosting with them.
What if I change my mind?
If you decide that self-hosting is not for you, it is easy to ‘downgrade’ and just keep your domain- since the URL is what people link to. This guide explains how to do so. Therefore, don’t see hosting as a permanent commitment.
Phew, that was a super long blog post and I’m glad we’ve come to the end of it! Any other questions on hosting or domains? Pop them below and I’ll do my best to answer!
Before you go…
Read: 10 ways to grow your mailing list.
Watch: How to get engagement on your Facebook channel.
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