Internet users are like snowflakes, no two are alike nor do they behave the same online. Because there is no one else on the Internet like you, it doesn’t make sense to rely on the same services and platforms that everyone else does to show the world who you are.
If you’ve ever Googled yourself (and unfortunately, it seems that 60% of us never do) you probably saw a lot of results for people who share your name that definitely aren’t you. Sometimes the results are funny or interesting or sometimes you share a name with a nefarious criminal, the results are a mixed bag.
If you are a blogger, freelance businessperson, or former student trying to get your first job, this can be a real problem.
Why Domain Names and Websites
The best thing you can do to set yourself apart from everyone else online, especially the ones you share a name with is to get a personalized domain name and build a website.
A website is an important tool to control your content and engage with your readers and users on your terms, but the real star of the show is your domain name. A good, personal domain name can be your most powerful asset in the battle for a unique online identity. If chosen well, it will tell people who you are and what you are about right in your website’s address.
It is genius marketing, but more than that, it can be your ID and calling card online.
How Domain Names Work
A domain name is more than the identity mark of your website, it is also your address and routing system within the Internet. Each individual domain name is part of a larger domain name system formally known as the DNS. The DNS basically functions as the Internet’s Facebook, mapping, categorizing and connecting every address and webpage, ensuring its place in the Internet’s eco-system.
But even though your domain name is part of the DNS, it is not the actual name that the system uses. Instead, every domain name is connected to its IP (Internet Protocol) address. An IP address is a series of numbers that correspond to the address of the server where its website is being hosted.
Since the server doesn’t recognize the domain name, only the IP numbers it is connected to, the domain name is for you and your site’s visitors while the IP address is used to route anyone looking for your site by its domain name to the right place. This works out well because it is way easier and more fun to make up a cool domain name that has meaning for you than to type a long string of numbers and dots.
Why Do You Need A Domain Name if You Already Have Facebook, SnapChat and Instagram?
Having a domain name and being an independent part of the Internet’s eco-system sets you apart from everyone else doing what you do and everyone else who shares your name.
There is an alternate school of thought that your social media presence is all you need to set up your online identity. Some people believe that a robust social presence across a variety of platforms is all they need to communicate with customers, fans and readers. But what happens when those platforms disappear, or as is more frequently the case, users begin to abandon them?
When users began a mass exodus from Myspace in the mid 2000’s, many people left behind years of blog posts, photos and personal brand building. More recently, Google+ and Foursquare suffered a similar fate. Users who built up a following on these platforms alone, can lose a lot of content when the culture shifts away from them. If you find yourself in this position and there is nowhere else for followers and visitors to find and connect with you, they are abandoning you also.
If you have your own domain name and website, you make the rules, you control the content and you are responsible for making people come back to your site again and again.
Having Your Own Place on the Internet is Powerful
Having a domain name and being a part of the DNS roots you to a permanent place in the Internet in a way that being a casual user of social and free services doesn’t. SEO loves domain names and when you start using yours, you will see your ranking soar.
If you choose a cool, memorable, personal domain name and couple it with a compelling website that people like to visit you won’t have to worry that a bunch of people who aren’t you pop up when you Google yourself – which is perfect for a unique Internet snowflake like you.