A domain name is your website’s gateway to the Internet. You cannot own a domain name, you can only lease the right to use it. It is very important that you renew the lease each year before it expires, otherwise you may find someone else has snapped it up while you were napping. Choosing the right domain name is an important decision for your online business. Take time to consider this because a mistake here can be quite difficult to rectify once your Internet presence is established. Following are some tips on choosing one that will best suit your business.
Domain suffix (dot what?)
There are many different domain extensions available. For businesses most people seem to prefer the .com suffix. It is the domain extension that most people will try when searching for a Website. Also, because it is one of the oldest extensions, .com can make your business appear well established on the Internet. Some domain extensions are organisation specific (.org) and some are country specific (.co.uk). The main domain extension for the UK is .co.uk and most British people are familiar with it. As a general rule I would say that if you are dealing primarily with UK clients go for .co.uk, otherwise try and obtain .com. It is also a good idea to register multiple domain extensions and point them to your primary domain. This prevents someone else obtaining them, which could affect your business. For example your primary domain might be mybusiness.com. If you register mybusiness.co.uk and mybusiness.net you can point these domains to your primary domain. These are then known as parked domains.
What’s in a name
There are two starting points when choosing a name. You can base the name on your company name or you can pick a generic name that describes your business. You are obviously hampered by what’s available of course, especially with .coms. You can gain some search engine advantage if you go for a domain name that has your search engines keywords in it. (The words people are likely to type into Google to locate you). For example, if your company is called Jacksons Trading, you could go for jacksonstrading.co.uk but if you sell pet supplies it may be more useful to choose discountpetsupplies.co.uk. Probably no one online has heard of Jacksons Trading but lots of people own pets and are likely to type “pet supplies” into Google. They both have their pros and cons and as the owner of your business, the choice is yours. It may help to check Google Trends which identifies what words people search for the most and in what region before you buy.
Keep it short
Although you are allowed to register a name with up to 63 characters, keep in mind that people need to be able to remember it and easily type it into their browser. Try to register the shortest name that your customers and visitors will associate with your Website. The general rule of thumb is to keep it under seven characters if possible. (Not including the suffix.) Domain names can only use letters, numbers and dashes. Spaces and symbols are not allowed. Also, domain names are not case sensitive.
Choose a memorable name
Make sure your domain name is easy to remember. You may get many visitors to your site through word of mouth, The more memorable your domain name is, the more likely it is that people will pass the name on and the more likely that the people to whom it’s passed on will remember to type it in when they get home.
Avoid trademark names
One problem area with domain names is the issue of Trademarks. The name you’re using or hoping to use may be a trademark belonging to somebody. This is most likely when redeveloping an expired name, but it can also be a problem for new domains. You should avoid choosing a domain name that misuses a trade mark belonging to another business, or might mislead users into thinking you are someone else. You can search for an existing trade mark with the Intellectual Property Office. If you accidentally violate a trademark, you will probably be required to surrender the domain name, but possibly anything you’ve earned with it too. For this reason it’s best to try to find a fairly unique name.
I hope this article has been of use to you. Good luck with your new domain!