Domain Names

You can register domain names at many places. Most popular domain registration services are Godaddy.com and Namecheap.com.

Some web hosting companies also provide domain name registration to make it convenient for clients to get everything done with a single company. However, you generally want domain registrar and web host to be two separate companies.

  • Buy the domain first at Godaddy or Namecheap.
  • Sign up for web hosting elsewhere.

The reason is web hosting companies will not offer the same domain features Godaddy and Namecheap provide. If you allow your web host to register the domain name, you will be limited by the web host’s support service and domain features.

For example, web hosts typically don’t allow additional domain managers, like Godaddy and Namecheap do.

Ownership

You should always own the domain name. Don’t let anyone take ownership of it. If it’s registered on your behalf, pay that person/company and have it transferred under your name as soon as possible.

For example, “Host your site with us. Pay for the full year and we’ll give you a free domain name.

Don’t do that. What if 6-months in their web hosting service is less than stellar and you want to make a switch? You can’t because the domain name is stuck with them for the full year. If you move without the domain name then you have to deal with redirection and rebranding, which is more serious than it sounds if not done correctly.

It’s bad to have web hosting and domain registrar be the same company. The exception is buying web hosting through the domain registrar.

  • Bad: letting web hosts register your domain name through their own system. Web hosts are not domain registrars. Even if they legally are, they are not equipped to operate like a large scale registrar.
  • Acceptable: signing up for web hosting through a domain registrar like Godaddy or Namecheap. This is okay because large scale domain registrars have a lot of resource. They can offer you incredibly cheap hosting. And, they’re just trying to make extra money by offering hosting. If their hosting sucks, you can always shut it down to move elsewhere. The downside is they are typically not equipped to operate like a fully featured web host.
  • Good: buy domain name with a registrar and buy web hosting with a separate company focused on just hosting. That way, you get the best of both worlds. It’s not more expensive to take this route. People simply don’t know it’s an option.

Domain Legal Stuff

This is not legal advice. This is strategy for U.S. companions worrying about SESTA/FOSTA. Find a registrar that lets you buy names ending with “.nl”, “.ch”, or whichever ending that aren’t directly within the jurisdiction of United States government. Do your research to see if a certain domain-name extension is adult friendly. Research the names I just mentioned, don’t just listen to me. There are many different extensions out there, I can’t cover all of them here.

Also, check to see if you can easily buy domain privacy for the chosen name. For example, the extension “.nz” didn’t allow privacy as an additional purchase back in 2012. If you can’t add privacy to the domain name, anyone can look up your personal information.

While you want a domain name extension that isn’t directly within reach of the U.S. government, your web site should continue hosting on a server that is physically located within United States. Yes, buy a domain name the government can’t easily get a hold of but continue web hosting within United States if the majority of clients are in the U.S. If you care enough to spend money on a website then hosting offshore defeats that purpose in the first place. I’ll expand on this later at the section about “Web Hosting for United States Companions”.

Web Hosting

A companion website is one of the least needy type of sites to build. Some may be more complicated than others, but what companion sites need from their web hosts are pretty simple. You don’t need to worry about comparing price plans. Find a web host with a good reputation and purchase the cheapest option. “A good reputation” meaning you should actually do the research and read reviews about the chosen company, not just listen to what one person says. When judging web hosts, one person’s experience with a certain host can be drastically different from others.

If you pay more knowing your site will be hosted on a server that’s not overloaded with thousands of clients, that would be better.

Not important

  • Email hosting: you should be using an independent, encrypted email service like Proton Mail anyway. Proton Mail has a limited free plan. Although, all new bookings should go through your own website booking form first then Proton Mail. That way, you have a backup of request messages even if Proton Mail services are temporarily unavailable.
  • Bandwidth: you will never feel the difference between 10GB and 20GB. Companion sites will barely scratch 5GB per month.
  • Storage: get something with at least 500MB to store site files and backup versions too. If you have many large, high quality photos then get something with at least 1GB for the site itself and another 1GB for backups.
  • Number of databases: 99.9999999% of all scenarios for companion sites, you’ll need exactly one database. If the web host is trying to nickel and dime you for extra databases, go for the cheapest plan with at least one database.

Important

  • SSL certification: this affects security and SEO rankings (more on that later)
  • Up time: Google for “uptimerobot” and sign up for the free plan to monitor your site. It will tell you whether your web host is delivering what they promised.
  • Speed: this goes hand in hand with “Up Time”. If they host you on a server packed with thousands of other sites, your site will have a hard time running fast and staying online.
  • Support: good web hosts are there when things go wrong. Eventually, something always go wrong. I’ve seen it too many times.

Web Hosting for United States Companions

Updated December 31, 2018: Here’s my full take on offshore hosting.

Again, this isn’t legal advice. It’s strategy and understanding what to actually fear. Most U.S. based escorts, at the moment, are looking for domain names not under jurisdiction of United States government and looking for offshore hosting to protect their websites from being taken down and to avoid legal issues.

Here’s a few problems with that:

  1. Companionship and escorting aren’t illegal. You’re charging for time, not sex. Selling sex and sex trafficking, on the other hand, are illegal.
  2. Sites like Backpage.com were targeted because they operated on a much larger scale. SESTA/FOSTA fails at preventing real illegal activities at the smaller scale because it’s hard and not feasible to do so. If you’re an independent escort from Los Angeles with a personal website, why would the government care? There are bigger fish to catch like Backpage.com and other community sites. It’s the large sites and communities that need to move offshore because they’re simply too big to manage all of their user activities.
  3. The fear of getting banned or taken down actually stems from large scale sites and web hosts banning you to protect themselves from the government.

If you’re a U.S. based escort then you should host your website independently on a U.S. based server. The closer your website is hosted, relative to your clients’ locations, the faster it will load. The faster it loads, the more user friendly it will run and the higher it will rank on search engines to get free traffic.

How often do you make a purchase on a slow online store? Almost never because you left after 4 seconds. If you move offshore, making your site slower for clients and your number of bookings per month tanks, take a look at web hosting and site performance.

Having your own website is investing in your brand, building repeat business through your own property, and eventually not having to rely on running ads because you’d be getting free traffic from search engines like Google. Hosting offshore defeats that purpose by slowing down your site speed significantly. It doesn’t matter if it’s high quality hosting, distant server location still gives you slower page speed.

So why host offshore when you’re operating legally and when you’re not operating as a community like Backpage.com?

If the very slim chance your U.S. based web host gets shut down, you can immediately move to another server, assuming you have a backup copy of your site that is. (Courtesan Creative does regular backups of all client sites.) It’s the domain name that you need to worry about, not whether web hosting location is offshore.

Web Development and SEO

The complexity of web development and SEO (search engine optimization) deserve its own group of articles, but that’s beyond the scope of this writing and frankly your patience. I appreciate you making it this far so let me try to give you a crash course.

I’ve personally witnessed plumbing companies pay $x,xxx per month to have a team of people doing SEO for them just so their company site would show up first when users google for “drain cleaning los angeles” or “drain cleaning seattle”. Fighting to be the first search result in your city is super competitive.

How does it relate to escorting? If you were an escort in a city like Los Angeles and if the most popular way new clients look for escorts is by specifically searching for “escort in Los Angeles,” your site should be the first result for that search.

(Realistically, you should aim to be on the first page of Google then eventually one of the top 3 results of the first page. Taking the #1 spot is really hard.)

That’s why it’s important to have a fast loading site that is SEO friendly in the first the place. If you host offshore or far away from where your clients are then you’re already behind.

On-page SEO

This has to do with how your site is built and structured. The details on individual pages also matter because search engines automatically scan for it. And based on different factors, it ranks your site. Speed and having a mobile friendly site are becoming increasingly more important.

A few basic on-page things to check off

  • If hypothetically, you are a Los Angeles or New York companion, does your site include those exact words or phrases in the site titles?
  • Are image names based on keywords or just randomly? Bad example: abby-123.jpg. Good example: los-angeles-escort.jpg.
  • Does your image embeds include “alt” tags with keyword based descriptions?
  • Does each page include an “H1” heading tag using the main keywords, for that particular page, as the heading text?
  • What is the average number of words you have per page? Google loves pages with 1500 plus words. I realize that’s unrealistic for pages like a photo gallery, but this is why companions should blog more often. Blogging helps clients get to know you and it helps you rank well on search engines.

There’s more to on-page SEO and all of it would only make up one aspect of SEO in general. There also off-page and negative SEO. Read “The SEO Guide for Escorts”.