A question that I frequently hear is "Do I really need to have my own domain name?" The one word answer is "YES.". If you put up your site with some of the free web hosting services, the only company who benefits is the web hosting company. The last person who benefits is you. There are a number of reasons why having your own domain name is a must:
1) When you have your own domain name, the address of your web site will be of the form http://www.yoursite.com. On the other hand, if you put up your site on one of the free servers, the address of your web site will be something like http://www.somefreewebsite.com/yoursite/. Which of these two sounds more professional? Which of these two is smaller and is hence easier to remember? I leave you to make the judgement.
2) The only way to make money online is to build up credibility among your customers. Having your own domain name is the first step in doing that. Your customers will feel more comfortable buying whatever it is that you are selling if you have your own domain name. It makes your customers feel that they are dealing with a large, established company, rather than with some fly by night operator.
3) When you have your domain name, you can have multiple email aliases of the form email@example.com. This allows you to assign different email aliases to different functions, all of them pointing to your actual email address. Hence, for example, for questions related to the products and services that you sell, you can have an email address like firstname.lastname@example.org. For questions related to the newsletter that you publish, you can have an email address like email@example.com. For comments/suggestions about your web site, you can direct your customers to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Having different email addresses for different functions not only makes it easier for you to filter your email using your email client program (Eudora Pro, Pegasus Mail, Outlook Express etc.), but also gives your customers the impression that yours is a large, established company with whom it is safe to do business.
4) Many search engines give a lot of emphasis to the home page of a particular domain, i.e. other things remaining the same, a home page of a domain will often rank higher for a particular keyword than any other page. When you use some of the free hosting services, your index.html page is the home page of your site, but not of that domain. Hence in these search engines, your site will find it very difficult to make it to the top 20 or top 30, let alone the top 10 for some of the really competitive keywords. Just think of the amount of traffic that you will lose if this happens.
5) Some search engines are now refusing to spider the web sites which are hosted by the free web hosts. For instance, if you have a site hosted by the free web hosts, you would, until recently, have got the infamous error message saying that too many pages have been submitted from your site if you tried to submit your site to AltaVista. While AltaVista now says that "your URL has been submitted for processing" if you try to submit your site, rest assured that it will not spider any site belonging to many of the free web hosts even though it says that your site has been accepted. Can you afford that?
6) When your site is hosted by some of the free web hosts, you will find it very difficult to get it listed in a major directory like Yahoo!. Although Yahoo! will never admit that it won't add a commercial site which is being hosted in one of the free web hosts, in practice, it will be a miracle if you can get your site listed by Yahoo!!. Listing your site with Yahoo! is difficult enough even when you have your own domain. Don't make your task more difficult than what it needs to be.
If you do not currently have a domain name, are you convinced that you need one right now? The small fee that you pay per year for your own domain name is peanuts compared to the benefits that you get. You can check out the availability of domain names and register new domains here.
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Article by Sumantra Roy. Sumantra is one of the most respected and recognized search engine positioning specialists on the Internet. For more articles on search engine placement, subscribe to his 1st Search Ranking Newsletter by sending a blank email to mailto:1stSearchRanking.firstname.lastname@example.org or by going to