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How to use a domain name with your website

This is one of the most common questions we are asked and the subject is a potential minefield of conflicting data misinformation so I thought I would write this article to try to ease any worries you may have about it.

Web forwarding or domain hosting?
First of all you will want to know what the options are for using your domain name and it boils down to 2 possibilities:
1. Web forwarding
This creates a ‘frame’ into which your Layerspace website is loaded, so you are effectively looking at your site through a window. The domain name acts as a shortcut or ‘alias’ to your actual site. This works very well for many people and you can use it during your free trial period as it is usually active instantly (depending on your domain name provider).
You will usually use email forwarding as well as web forwarding which means that any email sent to yourname@yourdomain.com will be forwarded to you at the email address you specify, so you can use a Hotmail or Gmail account or the email that comes with your broadband service for instance. This is an excellent idea as it makes you sound more professional and you don’t need to change your email address if you change broadband provider.
The main drawback with using web forwarding is that it is not particularly good for search engines which will look at your site and see a small piece of code which directs them to look at another website. Search engines tend to be a bit sniffy about this, so to improve that you will need domain hosting – read on for more.

2. Domain hosting
Using domain hosting to link your domain name with your Layerspace website means that the systems which run the internet have a record of what to show when someone types in your domain name. This means the domain effectively IS the website, instead of just being a shortcut to the site. What this means in the real world is that search engines look at your site and see a page full of relevant text about you and the content of your website which can be used to form a picture of what the site is about and therefore when to show a link to your website in search results.
In addition to this, you will normally use the domain name for email as well, since your email account will be hosted as well as the website. There is no particular advantage of having your email work like this instead of email forwarding other than that it may be a little quicker sometimes.

So which do I choose?
Which method you choose depends on how important you consider search engine results to your website. If your customers predominantly come through web searches then you should definitely strongly consider going down the hosted route. If your customers or visitors are referred to your site in other ways then it may not make much difference. You should also note that web forwarding does not mean that your website will not be listed at all in search engine results, just that it may not be as high in search results. We make a small charge for you to add domain hosting to your account but this is a one off fee which helps to cover the cost of implementation. After the initial charge, there are no further costs. Web forwarding is provided as a free service by reputable domain name resellers.

How do I use web forwarding?
To set up web forwarding you must log in to the control panel for the company from which you bought the domain name. For instance if you bought the domain name from Daily you need to go to www.daily.co.uk and log in to your account. Once you have done this you will need to find out the method of setting up email and web forwarding. This can vary widely amongst different companies so it is beyond the scope of this article to explain this exactly but there will be a page somewhere to enter the URL of the web page you want to use for forwarding. You can find this URL by logging in to the control panel for your Layerspace website, and clicking the URL tab. Copy the URL from the Layerspace control panel and paste it into the relevant box on your domain name provider’s website.

There will normally be an option to use ‘Framed’ or ‘Masked’ forwarding. If enabled this will retain your domain name in the browser address bar rather than changing it to the Layerspace URL. You will also often be given the option to set the title of the page, a description and some keywords. These are all useful for improving the searche engine optimisation of your page.

How do I use domain hosting?
To set up domain hosting you first need to log in to your Layerspace control panel and click on the domains tab. Click to add a new domain and enter your domain name in the box. You will need to pay the one-off set up fee at this stage and once you have completed that you will be ready to change the domain name settings to use it with your website. Log in to the control panel for the company from which you bought the domain name. For instance if you bought the domain name from Daily you need to go to www.daily.co.uk and log in to your account. Once you have done this you will need to find out the place to change the ‘nameservers’ for your domain name. The nameservers are a few numbers which tell the internet system where to look for a website when someone types in your domain name. You will have been sent an email telling you which namervers to use when you set up domainhosting on the Layerspace website, so enter them now. We usually use ns1.layersites.com and ns2.layersites.com. All others should be empty.

When you have changed the nameservers your site should start to be shown when the domainname is typed in. WARNING! the process can take up to 72 hours to complete so it may be a while before anything changes. If nothing has happened please leave it a while and check again.
The settings for title, description and keywords for your site are now in the control of the Layerspace system and your email account will have been set up too should you wish to use it.

PLEASE NOTE
All the above assumes that you have already purchased a domain name. If you have not it is best to do that first – we recommend Daily (www.daily.co.uk) but there are a large number of companies which sell domains.

I hope this article is of some use to those setting up their domain name but as ever if you have any question please do not hesitate to call or email us, or raise a support ticket.


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