How to Host on Your Domain

Many people have asked me how I set up my own site at www.skepticgeek.com and migrated my existing blog from WordPress.com in the process. In this series of posts, I will briefly cover the steps I took to set up this site.

There are many guides on the net about how to setup your own website, so I will not try to repeat all that wisdom here. Instead, I hope these posts will be helpful for two reasons: One, many of the guides and tutorials on the web are outdated, as the technology and commerce landscape changes rapidly. Two, there are some unique considerations involved in hosting multiple blogs on one domain and migrating a blog from WordPress.com to your self-hosted WordPress.org installation.

Choose Domain Name

I used Instant Domain Search to search for my domain name. If you are looking to build a professional website, I strongly suggest going with .com domains, and avoid other alternatives. For personal websites, any domain name that fits your budget is fineBluehost LiveDemo

There are advanced domain name search engines like Domize if you want to use sophisticated search. I also read How To Buy Domain Names Successfully and 11 Steps to Buying a Domain Name That Doesn’t Suck.

When choosing your domain name, think into the future. You can choose your own name if it is easy to remember and short . However, your personal name as your domain name puts limitations on what you can do with it. If you envision the site to be used by multiple authors for blogs, or to build a user community, a generic name is more suitable.

Try to get domains that have keywords of your interest and focus in the domain name. You might also want to check if the corresponding Twitter handle, Facebook vanity URL, etc. is available while making your choice. I went ahead with www.skepticgeek.com only to discover later that the Twitter username was already taken, and hence had to resort to using @ScepticGeek on Twitter.

Do not buy the domain name with a registrar until you have chosen your web host. Read further to know why.

Choose Web Host

There are some web hosts recommended by WordPress here. This is Lifehacker’s user-voted list of Most Popular Reliable and Affordable Web Hosts. After a simple search in FriendFeed, I realized that there is no “perfect” web host. You need to choose one based on your budget and technical requirements.

I checked the simplicity of WordPress installs, bandwidth and storage limits, flexibility in customizing and configuring various applications and subdomains, etc.

I tested the quality of customer service by live chat with the web host customer service before I decided on my host. After evaluating many alternatives, I had narrowed down my choices to Hostgator, Dreamhost, and Bluehost, and finally decided on Bluehost.

I also suggest you check with your social network community – either FriendFeed, Twitter, or Facebook. After I tweeted about searching for good web hosts, I got couple of responses that pointed me to some sites that list and rank the best web hosts. The names and locations of these sites change all the time, so find out the current ones by searching and asking around. Comparison matrices at such sites can be useful, since if you only look at the “features” offered by one web host at their own site, you might get the impression that they offer everything under the sun.

Is it better to buy a domain name separately and choose your web host later? This is certainly one option that has some advantages. For example, you can buy a “hot” domain name instantly and decide on hosting at your own leisure. If you are dissatisfied with the hosting service, you can easily move on to another provider since the domain name is completely within your control.

In my case, I found that Bluehosts plan included a free domain name, and there were no discounts if I already had purchased my domain. Hence I did not buy the domain separately, and bought it as part of signing up with Bluehost.

I used my PayPal account for convenient online payment.

Use Free Site Monitoring

All web hosts, even paid ones, have down time. Use a free website monitoring service like Pingdom to monitor your site’s uptime. Until now, there were no free services like this, and Pingdom has recently introduced free monitoring for one website. You must take advantage of this free offer.

If you find the post useful, let me know in the comments. In the next post, I will describe how I have setup two blogs on one domain. In the final post of the series, we will look at the process of migrating an existing blog from WordPress.com to your own self-hosted WordPress.org installation.

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  • http://www.twinester.com/ Andre

    Awesome post Mahendra!

  • http://vikasgupta.wordpress.com/ Vikas Gupta

    Thank you so much. I have not read all of it but presently only bookmarked it. Thanks for all the great links. I will be back here.

  • http://www.skepticgeek.com Mahendra

    You're most welcome! Thanks for visiting and for the feedback. :)

  • Pingback: Setup Two (or Multiple) Blogs in Wordpress | Skeptic Geek()

  • vikasgupta

    I have a question and the urgency is low/medium.

    It is well known that Google gives more weightage to TLDs rather than to blogs hosted on wordpress [eg. vikasgupta.wordpress.com].

    Now If I do domain mapping by buying a nice domain name [eg. xyz .com] and getting my WP blog directed on this domain name, will I get all the Google benefits?! I mean my blog will still be hosted by WordPress but the url will have no wordpress in it thanks to domain mapping option. So if I postpone buying my own web host and just buy a domain name and host it with WP only, will I get all the Google benefits of a self hosted blog?

    Thanks in advance.

  • http://www.skepticgeek.com Mahendra

    Vikas,

    I am sure I understand your question correctly, and further, I am not an SEO guy, but will try to respond.

    “It is well known that Google gives more weightage to TLDs rather than to blogs hosted on wordpress [eg. vikasgupta.wordpress.com]”.
    This is true in a situation when you are starting a new blog. When you have already built a pagerank for your wp.com blog, your new TLD will have zero PR, compared to your existing wp.com blog.

    Because of this, I am not sure what you mean by getting “Google benefits”. Your existing wp.com blog has a higher page rank than any new self-hosted blog. If you use WP.com's domain mapping upgrade, it will do a permanent redirect so that your new self-hosted blog slowly builds its PR from the existing PR of your wp.com blog. Domain mapping upgrade still restricts you to WP.com's policies, such as no scripting, no ads, etc. So I don't really understand what benefits you are referring to.

    Also, I presume when you say “hosted by WordPress” and “host it with WP only”, you are referring to WordPress.com. That “.com” is important when discussing this :)

    I suggest you take a closer look at the comments on WordPress.com's announcement of the Domain Mapping Upgrade: http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2006/10/24/domain-

  • http://vikasgupta.wordpress.com/ Vikas Gupta

    Thanks Mahendra, you actually answered it. By WP or wordpress here I always meant .com only and not .org.

    The comments on that page, I had ignored them. Thanks for the suggestion.

    My contention was that If i just domain map now to redirect my blog to the bought domain name and let the blog be on wordpress.com only [the current TOS will apply of course] then will the PR will have an effect again when I shift to WordPress.org a year from now! The answer is NO, I am convinced.

    Thanks again. I only meant the PR [nothing SEO].

  • http://www.skepticgeek.com Mahendra

    Ah, happy if you've got your doubts cleared! :)

    Matt himself has clarified some questions over there, so you should always check out WordPress forums and faqs. There's a wealth of information both in the .com and .org WordPress forums. All the best…looking forward to seeing your new site.

  • vikasgupta

    The WP forums are a goldmine indeed! Also the forums of various web hosts have a lot of info! I have done a lot of research on web hosting and themes and got many tricks to get big discounts etc. I'm getting 2 years unlimited in 70 dollars with a good web host [recommended by WP as well]. I am thinking of writing a post on it too narrating my web host hunting experiences.

    I don't' have a credit card or else I would have bought the web hosting by now! Bought a domain name in India with debit card [will buy more names]. I am mad about themes and learning new things; that's the primary reason I want to shift to .org [for a mag theme like Arthemia]! Just worried that it will cost me a lot of time [it already has].

    I will soon suggest Nita to buy her domain name [it's still not taken but crooks will get it someday] and map it on WP.com only [she has no fascination with .org]