Ok, so welcome to this first part of our free how to start a blog series. If you’ve just arrived here then read this page to get an idea of how this blogging course for beginners came about and what it is we’re hoping to achieve. If you have an existing website and want to improve it by blogging, or, if you want to create a blog from scratch and become a successful blogger then you’re in the right place.
As you’ll know from our earlier post, My daughter Emma, in addition to her daytime job, makes and decorates cakes to a high standard. It’s her ability, coupled with her desire to do more with her life that has lead to this joint project. So, rather than repeat myself, let’s crack on!
Choosing A Domain Name For Your Blog
Rather than go into the basics of domain names all over again, pop over to a post that I published earlier about choosing a domain name (opens in new window) and then come back here to continue reading.
As you know, Emma is planning to blog about baking, cake decorating etc. She’d already given some thought to domain names prior to our meeting this week and had text me some ideas. For those of you reading this from the UK, you’ll know that there is a popular TV show known as The Great British Bake Off. Emma first thought of trying to capitalise on this and had thought of worldwidebakeoff.com as a possible domain.
I advised checking with the intellectual property office to see if the phrase bake off had been registered. Sure enough, it had and so that idea was shelved. She had several ideas that included her own name such as emmaskitchen.com, cookingwithemma.com and so on. We discussed this and decided that despite it being important trying to get keywords in the domain name such as baking etc, what she doesn’t want to do is to restrict herself too much in the future. That said, we also covered that it’s important to focus on one niche and becoming an authority on that subject.
Another point that we discussed is whether she should include her name in the domain. Personally, I think that it’s important that a blog has an identity, a person who is part of the brand, especially in such a niche as baking but it’s not entirely necessary to include this in the domain name.
Many of the domains that we thought of had already been taken. Given that Emma is planning on publishing to a global audience, we really did want a top level .com domain. Finding one that was relevant that hadn’t been taken was proving somewhat of a challenge. I actually recorded our conversation, it took us over two hours, several coffees, some keyword research and much laughing to find just three domains that we liked that were available.
These are the domains that we shortlisted.
The Importance of Domain Name Research
Emma knew which her favourite was and thought she’d decided on it however, I suggested that we put it to the people in the Facebook group to gauge their thoughts. Opinions were mixed as we’d thought but whilst we were waiting for people to comment I thought I’d do a few checks.
For the record. Emma’s favourite up to this point was projectbaking.com. I started to do some more basic research on Google. First of all, I typed the keywords into Google without the .com bit to see what it gave us back. I was interested in the suggestions at the bottom of page. Out of all of them, baking tutor gave us the most relevant suggestions. This goes to show that Google understands that baking tutor is associated with baking lessons, baking tutorials etc.
This is quite important, It’s well known that Google have patents that cover synonyms. The Google algorithm for instance knows that the words baking, and oven are related. They understand that an expert is similar to a professional and so on. Encouraged by the results of this research, we took it one step further. There is a website known as Wayback Machine, which allows you to type a domain name into a search bar and search for any old versions of websites or blogs that have been on that domain. We ran all three domain names through to see the results. Two didn’t show any which indicates that they’ve never been used before. One however did! More importantly, it shown that this website had been first registered in 2011.
This is good news, it’s well known that domain age is just one of the ranking factors that Google considers when deciding where to rank a website or blog. It’s not a guaranteed success but it’s a step up the ladder, A bit like having an uncle who works somewhere when you go for an interview.
When we clicked the different dates on the archive we could see that the domain had already been used for a baking blog, granted, it was a specialised blog (gluten free) and somewhat basic in design but none the less, Google will know that this domain is something to do with baking.
Next check to perform was to see if this domain had any bad press. By that, I mean, has it been blacklisted for building spammy links etc. So, a quick pop along to open site explorer shows us that not only is it clear but it also still has a little authority! Great news!
We Found The Perfect Domain Name!
So, after a few hours, we’d done it. Emma had witnessed the research and despite preferring the name projectbaking.com, she could see the benefit of taking bakingtutor.com. The domain name was purchased via 123reg and another coffee was in order!
All that needed to be done now was to assign this to a hosting account and install WordPress.
The Ideal Hosting For WordPress
If the truth be known, there are lots of choices when it comes to hosting. Although I use 123 reg for domain names, I don’t recommend them for hosting, sorry 123, I can praise your services for domains but your shared hosting leaves a lot to be desired. One company I’ve used a lot is Bluehost. They’re cheap and reliable and easy to use. I already have an account with them so it was a simple matter of adding the new domain to the hosting account.
And then editing the DNS records back at the 123reg control panel. If I wanted the email to run through Bluehost I could simply change the name servers on the 123reg control panel to point to NS1.bluehost.com and NS2.bluehost.com however, for personal reasons, I prefer to keep the email running through 123reg. So, all I need to do, is to log into the advanced DNS settings at 123reg and change the A records to match the ones indicated above. See the image below. It looks scary, it really isn’t. If you buy your domain name from Bluehost too, then this step isn’t necessary as your domain name will already be associated with your hosting account.
Installing WordPress For Your New Blog.
You’d think that this would be hard right? It’s not. It’s so simple. As long as you choose a host like Bluehost who have Cpanel and softaculous then it’s a matter of pressing a button and entering a few simple details.
Rather than repeat what I’ve already published, take a look at the article how to install WordPress that shows just how simple this is. I also created a video last year showing the same thing. See below.
So, in just a few hours, we’d decided on a domain name. sorted out the hosting and installed WordPress. It’s worth noting that WordPress ships with a standard theme, the latest theme is called Twenty Seventeen and it’s a really nice basic free theme. We’ve installed a basic plugin to put a holding page on Emma’s blog whilst we develop it. So what next? I’ve given some homework to Emma on Trello. to find a theme that she likes the look of by looking around other blogs and also to open social media accounts under the new name Baking Tutor.
So when we meet next, we’re going to cover installing a theme, configuring the way the blog looks and feels and then turning our eye to structure. This weeks session has been a bit heavy going only because we’ve had to mess around with domain name servers and things. The worst is over! If you’re planning on following along with us then trust me, if you’ve got this far then it only gets easier, and it’s more fun!
If you’re struggling doing any of this then I have a company called NetWise that trains people how to use WordPress. We also offer hosting and a free WordPress installation service. Simply contact me if all the above was too much for you. I hope you’ve enjoyed this first session, We’ll see you again next week!
Steve & Emma