Do I Need a Domain?

WordPress.com hosts many types of blogs and you can determine if the kind of blog you want to establish is allowed or not allowed very easily.  These are the characteristics of successful bloggers: Purpose, Passion, Productivity, People Skills and Persistence. You don’t need a domain to become a successful blogger but it helps. Blogs on their own domains communicate the message that the blogger is serious about blogging, serious enough to purchase a domain.

Committment To Longevity

Whether you are a professional blogger, a business blogger or a hobby blogger, if you are committed to developing your brand by producing quality content over the long-term, then I recommend getting your own domain and a no-ads upgrade from the get go.

Increased Credibility

Theres’ no doubt about it. Blogs on .blogspot.com or .wordpress.com or other free hosted sub-domains do not have the same credibility with readers or with search engines that blogs on their own domains do. Blogs on sub domains like .blospot.com or .wordpress.com lack the credibility that blogs on their own domains have because those on domains are less likely to disappear over night or to be spam sites.

Consider where search engines find the majority of low quality content, duplicated content, and stolen content blogs plastered with Google Adsense ads? The answer is on free hosted .blogspot.com sub-domains. In contrast,  no blogger initiated advertising is allowed on free hosted WordPress.com blogs. The ToS Staff at WordPress.com are extremely vigilant. WordPress.com actually has a “community” and the bloggers in it report such blogs without hesitation to Staff who examine and delete the ToS violating blogs “tout de suite”. Hence blogs on WordPress.com sub-domains have more credibility than blogs on other free hosted sites but less credibility than blogs on their own domains have.  Search the internet and you will find that stated by the top blogging tips bloggers and SEO bloggers over and over again.

When it comes to rankings both age of the site and the length of time the domain purchase reflects (1 year, 2 years, etc.)  are factors that search engines like Google take into consideration. It helps significantly with SEO if you also register the domain name for as many years as possible, rather than for just one year.

Registering a domain provides an opportunity to convey your brand through keywords to your target audience. If you are a professional or business blogger geographical location (.ca; .uk; etc.) is a consideration for top-level domain purchase. There are many articles on length of domain names that advise registering a domain name that has few characters as possible  (67 characters maximum). Related post:Typosquatting Impact.

Increased Flexibility

Without doubt, a domain name is a powerful branding tool and purchasing a domain mapping upgrade obscures the fact that you’re not paying for your hosting here at WordPress.com. Purchasing your own domain  makes it easier for your target audience to find your site. It provides more flexibility for an easy move to self-hosting should you care to move, and helps you keep your RSS subscribers if you do move. If you’ve registered your domain through WordPress.com and want it to point to a blog or website hosted elsewhere then you can do this by updating the nameservers.

Domain Mapping – How it works

Most bloggers have published content under their .wordpress.com URLs prior to purchasing a domain name via a domain mapping upgrade. The reason they do purchase domain mapping is so that all the URLs from the .wordpress.com root blog when clicked seamlessly redirect to the same content in the same posts and pages under the new domain URLs.

The page rank and authority the blog earned was earned by the .wordpress.com URLs and belongs to them. It’s not transferable and that means the domain starts from zero. In about 4 – 6 months time the same content originally indexed under the.wordpress.com URLs,  will all be re-indexed by search engines under the domain URLs.  All things being equal, the blog will probably have the same page rank and authority it had prior to purchasing domain mapping.

Domain Mapping – Three Choices

If you don’t own a domain you can register a new domain through WordPress.com. If do own a domain registered elsewhere you can map that existing domain to your .wordpress.com blog. If you already have a website, and you want to add a blog to it by mapping a sub domain you can do that too.

Expired Domains

If  you do not renew your domain mapping then all the domain URL’s will be broken and the blog will revert to the old .wordpress.com URLs.  The broken domain links all over the internet and in Google search results will produce 404 (page not found), until Google and the other search engines re-index them again under the .wordpress.com URLs, and clear their caches (3 – 6 months).

There’s a huge industry focused on buying, squatting and selling expired domains. Failing to renew your domain before it expires may mean a domain name squatter will buy it and then charge you the moon to get it back.

Related posts:
Setting up a Self Hosted WordPress.org Install
Moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org Resources and Tips

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