Domain, website, web hosting… There are a lot of terms in our online world that all mean the same thing, right? Wrong. These are all parts of a whole and understanding the difference between them is key to understanding how websites on the internet work and how people can find yours.
Think of it Like a House
The house itself is your website, but you can’t just have a house on its own. You also need some land to put it on – your hosting provider; a street so people can get to you – that’s the internet; and a unique address so that people know where on the street you live – that’s your domain.
Obtaining a domain name is usually the first step when you decide to build a website. For example, Bullseye Media’s website has the domain onlinedentalmarketing.com. You would reach our “house” if you entered that into the address bar of your web browser. These “addresses” can come in many forms – .com, .net, .org, etc. – and either with or without the classic ‘www’. An annual fee is typically required to register a domain name through a registrar like GoDaddy, Domain.com, or NameCheap.
Having an address alone isn’t enough to start building your house, however. You also need the land to build it on. That’s where your web hosting provider comes in. Finding a good hosting company is essential, because you don’t want to build your house on a weak foundation. Your web hosting company is like the landlords, and you’re essentially renting space from them on a physical server computer that will hold all the files and data that your website needs to function properly. If that server isn’t well maintained, or disconnects from the internet, your website can appear broken or be totally inaccessible to visitors.
Now that you have an address and a nice plot of land, it’s time to start building your house, err… website! The website is what everyone is most familiar with because it contains all the content, images, and design that people see. To keep the analogy going, your homepage is like your front door, and all the other pages on the website are like the interior rooms. You can remodel, add on, or repaint the house with new images, content, and design. You could even tear it down completely and build a whole new website on the same land and at the same address as before.
The last thing to do is put your house on the street, aka the internet, and add your information to online directories (like traditional yellow pages only online), so that visitors can easily find you through search engines like Google or Bing. If you’re a practice looking for lots of new patients, you want to make sure lots of traffic is driving down your street and stopping at your house. You also want to make sure all those online directories have accurate information; otherwise, potential customers could easily get lost looking for you.
Understanding the basic differences between websites, domains, and hosting is awesome, but how do you put it all together? Luckily for you, Bullseye Media can help! We provide our clients with top-of-the-line website design, hosting, and management, as well as offering solutions to get you better traffic and more customers. Contact us to find out more.