Choosing a Domain Name

There are a number of things to consider when choosing a domain name for your business. Here are some helpful hints, tips and nuggets of advice to help make sure you make the right decision and snap up the perfect domain name.

Two Essential Tools:

Google Keyword Tool — to assess a few of your chosen keywords for local search volumes (UK only), use the Google Keyword Tool at https://adwords.google.co.uk/select/KeywordToolExternal.  Enter a few keyword ideas and Google gives a free brainstorming session based on how many people actually search for those keywords and related ones.  INVALUABLE!

Bulk Domain Checking — to search through multiple domains for an available one, this is a great tool to save you time.  My favourite tool for this is from Daily at http://www.daily.co.uk/products/domain-names/domain-bulkreg.html

I have a number of techniques for using these and other tools to generate a comprehensive list of options and assess the best domain names to buy.  Get in touch here and we can discuss further.

Other Essential Tips:

 

    • Avoid confusing spelling. If your domain is targeted at a worldwide audience then stay away from words that are spelt differently throughout the world, such as words ending in ize(us)/ise(uk). This also applies to many words that have different meanings throughout the world. Some common english words are even offensive in other languages.

 

    • Avoid domain names that are very similar to others if possible. After all, you want customers coming to you, not your competitors! An exception to this rule is if you register the domain name of a commonly misspelt word, in the hope of catching additional customers, provided that you are not infringing on any trademarks.

 

    • Avoid domain names with words that join to form unintentional words such as “pen island” which reads “penisland”. Avoid them altogether or use captialization in marketing material or hyphens in the domain name to separate the words if really necessary.

 

    • Avoid hyphenated names – should you get a hyphenated name? There are a few things to consider here: people struggle to remember if your domain name has hyphens and where they are, so best avoided, unless all other domain names have gone and the hyphenated version is all you are stuck with. In this case it is probably better to choose another name altogether.

 

    • Avoid trademarked names – companies no longer need to open their chequebooks to get their names back. They just call their lawyers. Even if your site sells one brand, you need permission from that brand if you want to use their name in your domain name or one of your parked domains (for seo benefits). Check you are not infringing on an existing trademark or other name that rightfully belongs to another business or individual. An available domain name does not necessarily give you the right to register and use it.

 

    • Be Quick! Domain names are being snatched up fast so register asap unless you want to get stuck with leftovers.

 

    • Dot what? – there are various extensions available right now. For UK businesses, a .co.uk suffix is best.

 

    • If you take these alternate forms of a name, you will always have to promote your site with the full form of the name. Otherwise, users forget to add the necessary prefix or suffix. The best way to do this is to capitalise each word and remove spaces – e.g. Thedomainwebsite. In logos, using different shades or colours for the different words can work well.

 

    • It usually makes sense to get several domain names registered. If you have “yourname.com”, register “yourname.net” so no one else takes it. You can register your full business name and a shorter, easier to remember version. Some people even register common misspellings of their business’s name. (you don’t need a separate web page for each. Several domains can point to the same website.)

 

    • Keep it short – people need to remember it easily and type it into their browser quickly. Register the shortest name that your customers and visitors will associate with your website.

 

    • Keyword names, generic names or brand name domains? – there are huge benefits of having the keywords of your product or service in your domain name , but if you have or intend to creat a strong brand, then a domain name matching your brand name is very important. The name you use to advertise your product is the name that you want for your domain, because that is the first thing that people will likely type into their web browser.

 

    • Know your target audience – choose domain names that are appropriate for them. Depending on who you are targeting this could mean choosing names that sound sincere, cool, current, active, professional, or that use key words from the industry for example.

 

    • Plan for the future. If you are planning on releasing other products or services from this domain name in the future then don’t limit the relevance to the initial product or service. That being said internet marketing experts believe that your web site should have only one subject or focus. All products or services listed on the web site should be related. A web site with a broad focus is not as appealing to someone who is looking for particular information.

 

    • Plurals, and other forms of the domain name e.g. “the”, “go”, “my”, “4u”, “your”, etc. – if your preferred domain name is gone, the domain name registrar may suggest alternate versions of the name you want. For example, if you were after datingwebsite.com, it might suggest forms like: thedomainwebsite.com, mydomainwebsite.com, domainwebsites.com

 

    • Register a long domain name containing a list of relevant words for your web site to achieve a higher ranking in some search engines. Several of the major search engines rank web sites much higher if the search terms are contained in the domain name. You can use up to 63 characters to create a long domain name with keywords and automatically redirect visitors to the real web site. Some registrars offer the redirect service as standard in their price.

 

    • Register the domain name in the correct global or country level domain. For universal appeal use a .com, .info, .biz, .org, or .net domain. For local appeal use an appropriate domain in your country, such as .co.uk or .org.au. Note that many domains have restrictions on what domain names can be registered. In some domains you can only use a name that is derived from a registered business or organization name.

 

    • Avoid confusing spelling. If your domain is targeted at a worldwide audience then stay away from words that are spelt differently throughout the world, such as words ending in ize(us)/ise(uk). This also applies to many words that have different meanings throughout the world. Some common english words are even offensive in other languages.

 

    • Avoid hyphens between words if possible. A domain name with hyphens is harder to describe when said aloud. It is commonly accepted that a domain name with multiple words does not include hyphens. An exception to this rule is when choosing a domain name that has many words or words that are hard to decipher. Consider using capitalization when displaying the domain name in marketing material instead. For example, WebDesignTrainingCourses.co.uk is easier to read than webdesigntrainingcourses.co.uk.

 

    • Get the opinions of others. When you have settled on several available name choices, see what your friends and clients have to say. A name that may make perfect sense to you may be too hard for other people to remember. Is your domain easy to say? Is it hard to spell? Do you have to explain why you chose the name?

 

  • Your domain name should be your website name – naming your site after your domain may seem obvious to some of you, but you’ll be surprised to learn that not every website is named after the domain name even when the webmaster owns that domain name.

 

Cloud Hosting is the Future!

Unless you have been literally living ON a cloud for the last year, you will have heard one word mentioned a lot lately, in both the business world as well as the tech community.  That word is of course “cloud”.  There is cloud computing, cloud storage and cloud hosting.

Just see the meteoric rise in the interest in everything cloud at Google Trends.

Cloud hosting has quickly evolved from a futuristic technology into a commercially viable alternative for companies looking for a cost-effective hosting, storage and server solution. It is estimated that by 2014, 90 percent of the worlds biggest companies will use cloud hosting services.

While cloud hosting technology still has some minor concerns for companies  (such as with privacy and security), the numerous advantages and undeniable benefits far outweigh them:-

  • Reduced Costs – because cloud solutions are scaleable on demand, saving organizations money.
  • Increased Storage –  more data can be stored via cloud than on private computer systems
  • Scaleability & Flexibility – cloud services offer much more flexibility than past computing methods
  • Reliable Management by Skilled Technicians – cloud hosting providers offer reliable service and have skilled practitioners running huge datacenters with vast amounts of storage and computing capacity.  They know what they are doing and their business hangs on their reputation as 100% reliable.
  • Accessibility & Mobility – staff can access services, stored data and information anywhere, so no need to be in the office.Highly Automated – updates and maintenance can be provided by the cloud service providers so internal IT staff need not work to keep software up to date
  • IT can focus on more important things – maintenance, security, server updates and other IT issues can all be taken care of by the cloud providers, so organizations can concentrate on bigger issues.
  • Ease of Implementation – no need to purchase hardware, software or implementation services, cloud-hosting can be up and running in no time — and at a fraction of the cost of most onsite solutions

Best WordPress Hosting UK

Before you can run your own WordPress website, you need a host. Choosing the right web hosting provider and package is vital if you want to run a quality website and avoid  problems further down the line.

Decisions you need to make when choosing a host…

What kind of server? Windows or Linux?   Shared server, dedicated server, Virtual Private Server (VPS) or VPS Cloud?

Which Web Hosting Control Panel – cPanel/WHM, Plesk or DirectAdmin? (search Google for “wordpress cpanel vs plesk vs directadmin”)

How much power will your website need? How much hard disk, bandwidth, RAM, processing power, etc?

Expandability –  could the requirements of your site change in future?

 

Things you need to consider

You must be sure you make the right choices to establish the best host to suit your requirements…

  • Is your site small or large?
  • Do you want to set up one website or multiple sites?
  • Which of the following are important to you… SEO ? Good support? Fast site speeds? Quick page loading times?  Reliability? High quality of service? Flexibility and expandability?
  • How important are these things to you and are you willing to pay extra? Or are you on a tight budget and willing to slightly sacrifice some of these to keep the costs down?

 

My recommendations for the best UK-based WordPress web hosting

Having tried many different hosts myself and done a huge amount of research, I can wholeheartedly recommend the following providers. If you site is mainly for a UK audience, it is strongly recommended you use a host based in the UK, and most importantly, with their servers in the UK (ideally in the midlands or the south east).

For small websites – I recommend shared hosting with EvoHosting, Heart Internet, eUKhost or Pixel Internet

For multiple small websites (with low to moderate traffic) – I recommend multiple-domain shared hosting accounts with EvoHosting and eUKhost.  EvoHosting especially, have outstanding support!

For large websites (single and multiple domains with potentially high traffic volumes) – I recommend VPS Cloud hosting with CloudNext or SwitchLink

For very large corporate sites – I also recommend cloud VPS hosting from CloudNext.  In some cases, dedicated servers are still a good option, but generally speaking cloud hosting offers so many advantages even for huge corporate giants, in terms of on-demand expandability, that dedicated servers can rarely match them.

 

Cloud Hosting is the Future

Read more about cloud hosting here and why it is taking over the world

 

Who uses WordPress? Only The World’s Biggest Names!

Due to the flexibility of its framework, WordPress is the most popular website building application in the world for fully functional Content Management System (CMS) websites.  Over 14% of the 1,000,000 biggest websites in the world use WordPress. This figure is growing fast – just see Google Trends here.

Many of the world’s biggest and most successful web-based businesses (eBay*, Yahoo*, Flickr*), companies (Sony*, Samsung*, Ford*), universities (Harvard*, MIT*), news networks (CNN*, NY Times*) and brands (KrispyKreme*, Ben and Jerry’s*), have chosen WordPress for all the great features it has to offer.

 

* To see for yourself that these companies are using WordPress…
… just follow these links to their WordPress sites, right click on the page and select “View page source / source code”.  Search the text for “wp-” (CTRL+F to find/search text and enter “wp-”) and you will see the WordPress file structures (e.g. /wp-content/, /wp-themes, etc) spread through their source code, just as you will for this website.

.

 

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Other Brands, Companies and Famous Users

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  • Ford

    .

    http://www.thefordstory.com

    .
  • Ben & Jerry’s

  • SONY Playstation

  • People Magazine

  • SONY make.believe

  • Samsung

  • Nokia

  • Nikon

  • Pepsi

  • Lexus

  • Krispy Kreme

  • Katy Perry

  • .

    About WordPress

    WordPress is web software for creating beautiful, effective and search engine friendly websites, blogs and content management systems. It is a powerful open source web development tool and publishing platform run on the most universally popular database scripts, PHP and MySQL. It has a powerful but highly intuitive and user friendly Content Management System (CMS) and over 6000 plugins and counting, plus an almost endless range of template themes.

    These features together give WordPress users almost limitless possibilities to add features, functionality and designs to their site and huge potential to enhance and grow their online business.

     

    Rapid Growth in Popularity

    WordPress is used by over 14% of the 1,000,000 biggest websites as of May 2011, but this figure is rapidly growing. WordPress is fast becoming the most widely used platform in the world for web design and development – just see the meteroic rise in its popularity here on Google Trends.  Also, see here how quickly it has overtaken Joomla and Drupal as the most popular content management system.

    The core software is built by hundreds of community volunteers, and when you’re ready for more there are thousands of plugins and themes available to transform your site into almost anything you can imagine. Over 25 million people have chosen WordPress to power the place on the web they call “home” —  join the family!

     

    Who uses WordPress?

    Everyone loves WordPress, from solo bloggers, to huge corporations like Sony and Ford, with everything in between.  For more information about some of the higher profile organisations who use WordPress, read this article.

     

    30 SEO Tips and Strategies

    (saving the best for last…)

    The best tip I can give you is to hire ME to take care of all the following for you.  But shameless self-promotion aside, what follows is my own expert summary of the strategies you need to be using to get your website top of Google.

    1. Keyword Research – know what people are searching for in Google so you can target the right search terms
    2. Domain Name – Short names are easier to remember, avoid hyphens and include short primary keywords
    3. Domain TLD Extension – .com or .co for global businesses, .co.uk for UK businesses, .org or .org.uk for charities
    4. Web Host’s Location – If you are attracting UK business, then be sure to host in the UK
    5. Build a Great Website – kind of obvious, but if people like your site, Google will like your site!
    6. SEO-friendly URL’s – include relevant keywords in your URLs and file names, if possible, such as yourdomain.com/my-keywords
    7. Press Releases – if you have something newsworthy, distribute it to journalists via a PR distribution site like PR Web
    8. 8. Link Building – build links intelligently
    9. Link Partnerships find relevant websites within the same market sector or niche and swap links, using relevant keywords as anchor text.
    10. Don’t Use Flash – yes, flash is pretty, but it cannot be read by the search engines
    11. Content is King – create great, unique content, writing for users first. Page content should be high quality, natural and relevant, with your keywords prominent, but not spammy, or stuffed with keywords. Use your most important keywords about 3-8 times per 100 words.
    12. Navigational Structure – keep it simple and intuitive as possible, but keep your keywords at the fore
    13. Meta Tags – Title and Description. Make it unique to each page and related to page content
    14. H1, H2 and H3 Tags – use for headings, sub-headings and sub categories within the content
    15. Internal Keyword Linking Strategy – use targeted keywords to link between pages and make sure your most important pages are linked to from all your other pages
    16. Image Alt Tags – keywords prominent, but not spammy
    17. Privacy Policy – assures trust and confidentiality
    18. W3C Standards – the site should conform
    19. Robots.txt and “NO FOLLOW” links –  files and code which permits or denies access to robots or crawlers to areas of your site.
    20. XML Sitemap – create according to Google’s guidelines and submit to Google
    21. Write Unique Articles – submit them to article directories and PR sites
    22. Directory Submissions – submit your site to local, relevant and industry related directories
    23. Maximise Traffic Sources – get visitors from as many different places as you can, both online and offline.
    24. Social Networking – get on facebook and twitter
    25. Blog – keep your own blog and write posts on other blogging sites relevant to your industry
    26. Site Stats and Web Analytics – track everything!
    27. RSS feeds – create and submit to relevant feed directories
    28. Use SEO Tools and Software – sign up with Google’s AdWords and if you can, with Yahoo’s Search Marketing and Bing.  They have loads of useful tools such as Google’s Webmaster Tools and Yahoo Site Explorer.  You can also choose from a wide range of other online tools and software to help you conduct SEO as efficiently and effectively as possible.
    29. Stay SEO Savvy – keep informed, via the leading SEO related news and tips websites, like Search Engine Watch, SEO Book and SEO Moz. Also follow what Matt Cutts has to say on his blog – he is head of Google Search, so about as “in the know” as it gets!

    And most importantly of all…

    30. Hire me to do all this for you!

    Click here to hire me as an SEO consultant.

     

     

    10 Best WordPress Themes

    Whether you are building a simple blog with WordPress or a proper website, you want your site to look as good as possible.  One of the best things about WordPress is the huge range of themes available – whether for tailoring your site to be a corporate website, a photographer’s portfolio or an online shop, there dozens of great themes for every requirement.

    First you must decide what your site is for and how you plan to structure it.  Your content should really determine the structure and the structure to determine the design.  However, it may be worth browsing the themes available, so you can have a better idea of the site structures and layouts you think might be best.

    Below is a list is the best premium WordPress theme frameworks around.  I have used several of the themes before and am only recommending the ones I know to be good.

     

    Frameworks?  Child Themes?  Skins?  Confused?

    “Frameworks” like Genesis or Thesis provide a WordPress site with greater functionality, enhancing what WordPress can do, but with only a basic minimalist design template.

    “Skins” (or “child themes”) provide the extra design elements, to transform the framework’s basic design into something special, making it look pretty and often tailoring it to a certain purpose, such as a business, magazine, portfolio or even specific industry such as real estate or photography.

     

    1. Genesis

    by StudioPress

    The Genesis theme framework is my most highly recommended, as it is SEO friendly, simple, robust and the Genesis child theme designs are not only some of the best and slickest around – check them out here – but they integrate so seamlessly into the main Genesis framework, together bringing out the very best of WordPress. The only thing Genesis is not really suited to is easy customisation, but the child themes are so good as they are, you will often want to keep them as they are.

    2. Thesis

    by DIY Themes (Chris Pearson)

    For a long time the Thesis theme by Chris Pearson’s was the undisputed front runner and his Thesis theme was widely acknowledged as the best WordPress framework around.  Unfortunately, ever since a falling out with the WordPress founder, he has lost enthusiasm and been overtaken by Genesis as the first choice of many professionals.  Thesis is still an excellent theme and has plenty of unique selling points to recommend it, but it seems to be going stale.  Especially bad timing, since there are now finally a decent selection of attractive skins which have been developed to go with it – check them out here.

    3. PlatformPro

    by PageLines
    The ultimate “drag and drop” design theme

    4. WP-Elegance, WP-DaVinci and WP-Prosper themes

    by Solostream

    5. Builder and Flexx themes

    by iThemes

    6. Elemental

    by Pro Theme Design

    7. Catalyst

    the successor of the Frugal theme

    Catalyst is widely regarded as the best theme for customising a WordPress design to look exactly how you want it to, with minimal existing technical knowledge.  Check out Catalyst here.

    8. Canvas

    by Woo Themes
    Woo Themes have some really great looking designs and are firmly established as a highly popular and well respected provider of WordPress templates for all kinds of purpose.

    9. Xtreme One

    10. Headway

    .

    Best of the rest…

     

    • Elegant Themes – the Paris Hilton of WordPress themes: great to look at but not so much going on inside. Elegant themes offer excellent value, and some beautiful designs, but the back-end controls are not very flexible, practical, intuitive or SEO friendly, compared to the frameworks listed above.
    • Templatic
    • Theme Forest

    10 Best WordPress Settings

    When you first install WordPress, there are a number of settings you will want to tweak, before you do anything else.   Here we list just the essential changes you should make.

     

    General Settings

    1. Site Title

    2. Tagline

    3. Email

    4. Set time zone

     

    Reading Settings

    5. Depending on the theme you have installed, you may want to add a “Home” page and then select it as the “Front page” here in Reading Settings

     

    Discussion Settings

    6. Untick “

     

    Permalinks

    7. Select Custom Structure and enter: /%category%/%postname%/

     

    Plugins

    8. Install the essential plugins, as outlined in 10 Essential WordPress Plugins

     

    9. Set your WordPress API code for Akismet, Site Stats and any other plugins you have installed that require it.

     

    Contact Page

    10. Assuming you want a contact page, install the Contact Form 7 plugin, click on Contact in the main menu, click to create the table, change any options you want to and then paste the table code into a new page called “Contact”

    10 Best WordPress Plugins

    WordPress has thousands of useful and powerful plugins that can add extra functionality to your site. Some plugins are essential while others are just gimmicky – here is a list of just the essential ones.

    Beware that installing too many plugins will put pressure on your CPU usage, slow down your system and increase the page loading time.  If you have shared hosting then excessive CPU usage may get your site suspended.  A good alternative is VPS Cloud hosting.

    These are some of the most popular plugins, which help secure your WordPress site, make it load more quickly, fight spam, and increase your search engine ranking.

    Security and Anti-Spam Plugins

    1. Akismet

    Akismet is a powerful anti spam plugin for WordPress. It comes pre-installed with your WordPress installation, but you need to register at WordPress.com to get your unique API key and activate the plugin.  Akismet does not always get it right, and sometimes it marks legitimate comments as spam and vice versa. Many WordPress users review the spams, but this is up to you.

    2. WP DB Backup

    Backup, backup and backup again!  WP DB Backup allows you to easily backup the database. This is vital so you don’t lose your content, not even if your site gets hacked. There are three options to backing up your database: save to server, download to your computer, and email. You can also schedule your WordPress backups using this plugin – recommended!

    3. Antivirus for WordPress

    This simple plugin will monitor and detect malicious code in your WordPress system. Just enable the daily antivirus auto-scan feature, and you will get an email if the plugin detects a virus in the system.

    SEO Plugins

    4. Google XML Sitemaps

    The Google XML Sitemaps will create a sitemap for your site, saving you a lot of hassle doing it manually. The generated sitemap is search engine friendly and fully compliant with Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask.com. This plugin can even notify the search engines about updates to your site automatically.

    5. All in One SEO Pack

    All in One SEO Pack is a highly recommended plugin if Google rankings are important to you and it automates a lot of the hard work in making your site search engine friendly. After you have installed this plugin, you can set the title, description and keywords for your site.  As for your pages, posts and articles, let the plugin do all the work – it dynamically generates these for you based on your title and the first lines you write as content.  Clever eh!  Recommended upgrade: Scribe offers advanced SEO guidance, to ensure your meta tags and articles appeal to Google as much as possible.

    6. WP Super Cache – for fast page loading and reliability

    The WP Super Cache plugin builds static html files to speed up the loading of your site. If you tend to get spikes in your web traffic, this is an essential plugin to keep your site serving all its visitors and stop it from going down.  The basic settings suffice for most users, but like many plugins, you can tweak the more advanced options if you know what you are doing.

    Alternative for advanced users: W3 Total Cache, even faster but not for beginners!

    7. Yet Another Related Posts Plugin

    The Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) uses a template system to display a list of related entries on your site and feeds.  This can be customized in several ways, but you ideally need some knowledge of html and php.

     

    Site Stats Plugins

    8. WordPress.com Stats

    Use you WordPress API key, like you did for Akismet and get all your basic stats in an easy format.  If you want the more advanced stats, the best option is to also set up Google Analytics, below.

    9. Google Analyticator

    It is well worth having an account with Google, if you don’t already.  Google have some very useful tools for any website, the most useful of which are all free!  These include Webmaster Tools, Adwords, Keyword Tool, Google Trends and Gmail, but their best tool for running a website is surely Analytics, which gives you advanced reporting on visitors to your site.  You can view a basic overview or go in deep to almost infinite possible ways of viewing data on your visitors e.g. where they came from, what route they take through your site, how long they spend on different pages, you name it, Google tracks it! Google even knows what browser and operating system the visitor is using!

    10. Contact Form 7

    Contact Form 7 lets WordPress users create simple contact forms in seconds. It is highly customisable so you use the standard form as it comes, just with name, email, subject and message. Or you can include a range of different inputs as well, including for phone, checkbox selection boxes, radio buttons, text boxes, quiz questions, etc.

    The plugin supports Ajax-powered submitting and CAPTCHA anti-spam.  There are loads of supplementary plugins which act as add-ons to enhance the functionality of the Contact 7 plugin.  Just search the plugin directory for “contact 7”.

    If you want to avoid spam, just download the Really Simple CAPTCHA plugin at the same time, which inserts a small image of a code which users must type in order to click send.

    Useful tip: many users have problems getting the CAPTCHA plugin to work, so there is a great alternative I recommend.  Add a “Quiz” input and enter a simple maths problem as the quiz question, such as “What is 2 + 5? | 7”.  If the user enters anything except 7, an error message appears asking for the correct answer.  This blocks some spam which CAPTCHA cannot, but is open to other types of spam, so it’s “swings and roundabouts” really!  But a great quick alternative to using CAPTCHA.

    Alternative for advanced users: Gravity Forms

     

    THIS ARTICLE IS ADAPTED FROM THE WEBSITE “BEST WORDPRESS PLUGINS