Website Basics: Domains, Hosting & SSL


Or a “domain name” is your website name that appears in the search, or URL bar. For example, our domain is and is totally unique – a bit like a mobile number. Domains are typically anything from £5-£1000/year and generally can be purchased for a minimum 1 year and a maximum block of 10 years. There are people that purchase domains and assume this means they have also bought a website, this is not the case. Buying a domain is like buying a SIM card for a mobile phone, without the phone it’s not particularly useful. Hosting must be purchased separately, which may also include a basic web-builder like Wix or Squarespace.

Another common mistake with domains is the assumption that your business name will not already be taken as a URL, so be sure to shop around and find something that works for you and your brand.  We tend to suggest avoiding novelty alternatives to or .com as potential customers can find it difficult to locate your site.

Quick facts:

  1. Domains can be a maximum of 63 characters long.
  2. The most expensive domain sale of all time was $35 million. Sold to Brian Sharples, the owner of holiday rental business: HomeAway.
  3. Google founders, Larry Page and Sean Anderson had intended to name their company “Googol,” the term for the number value 1 followed by 100 zeros. They made a minor spelling error when they searched if “googol” was available. They registered and the rest is history.
  4. In 2012 a gentleman called Mike Mann purchased almost 15,000 domains in a 24hr period. When asked about his investment, he replied “I’m just really greedy, I want to own the world.” No further questions, Mann.



A web hosting service provider, just like Hughes & Co, is a business that provides the technologies and services needed for the website or webpage to be viewed on the internet. Websites are hosted, or stored, on servers. Web hosting is the place where all the files of your website are located – files include; images, text, downloadable content as well as code that makes your site work. It is like the filing cabinet of your website.

An analogy

If you consider the contents of your website as your furniture or personal possessions then the web hosting server is equivalent to the physical house that contains them. This ‘building’ has a unique address (like a postcode) which is listed on a series of worldwide directories. When someone enters your domain in their browser, the browser checks the name with the address held in the directory and connects to the appropriate hosting server. The signposting of where your website (and for that matter your email) reside in relation to your domain name is commonly known as DNS (Domain Name Server)


SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a small piece of code that lives with the rest of your website files stored on the server. It has two main functions:

  1. Authentication and verification: The SSL certificate has information about the authenticity of certain details regarding the identity of a person, business or website, which it will display to visitors on your website when they click on the browser’s padlock symbol. The vetting criteria used by Certificate Authorities to determine if an SSL certificate should be issued is most stringent with an Extended Validation (EV) SSL certificate; making it the most trusted SSL certificate available.
  2. Data encryption: The SSL certificate also enables end-to-end encryption, which means that the sensitive information exchanged via the website cannot be intercepted and read by anyone other than the intended recipient.

In recent years it has become even more essential to invest in an SSL. Search engines now heavily penalise sites that do not have them by bumping sites down displayed results and preventing immediate entry to the site.

But does having an SSL actually improve my site? Yes! But how?

Better Search Engine Ranking: In 2014, Google made changes to its algorithm in order to give the upper hand to HTTPS-enabled websites (This means all sites that have an SSL certificate). This has been evident in various studies conducted by SEO experts around the world.

Improves User Trust: Apart from encryption and authentication, SSL certificates are vital from a customer trust point of view. The easy to identify signs inform the users that the data they send will be secured.

Google Made SSL Mandatory in 2018: To give a safer web browsing experience, in 2018, Google decided to flag all websites that do not have SSL certificates installed on their website. Any sites that fail to comply carry a warning message in the URL bar of “Not Secure”. Some search engines now block the page from loading altogether, requiring the user to “confirm you understand this site is not safe”. This is known to result in loss of visitors.