Choosing the right domain name

It’s all in the name –  Choosing the right domain name 

The name of your website is probably more important than you might think. That’s why the best domain names were snapped up decades ago and sold on for millions of dollars. (www.business.com sold for $7.5million dollars around 1999)

If your business is going to have a website that you want customers to find and use and to generate sales, you need to keep reading about domain names.

Good domain names can give higher search results

Statistics show that many people don’t look past Page 1 of Google search results when they are looking for something on the internet. There are ways of helping your website get onto Page 1 and be seen by potential customers, and choosing the right domain name is one of them.

When choosing your domain name – you could try and acquire your actual business name as a website address. For example, if I had a business called Andrews Trading that sold envelopes – the most obvious domain name would be something like; www.andrewstrading.co.uk

But Google search engines are run by computers, and there is nothing in that website name choice to tell the computers that ‘Andrews Trading’ sells envelopes. It means people wanting to buy envelopes wouldn’t find your website quickly or easily, and would buy from elsewhere. So you need to think about getting the word ‘envelope’ or envelopes’ into your domain name if you can.

If someone searches for an ‘envelope’ company, the Google search engines would then be able to identify your company as being relevant to that customer’s query, and so would offer your website as a result.

Nb: Google want to look good – they want to be the best search engine there is, so they want the people using Google to be happy with the results they get from their searches. So they do look at your domain name and take it into account when ranking your website. With this in mind it would be worth considering something like;

www.andrewsenvelopes .co.uk or www.atenvelopes .co.uk

As both of these contain the word ‘envelopes’ it would be more obvious to the search engines that your website was about envelopes, so they are likely to give you a higher position in their search results for the search term envelopes. More hits, more customers, more sales.

Top tip

When considering a domain name, think about how easy it is for someone to understand when telling it them over the phone. For example the domain name www.we-r-4-u.co.uk may look nice but try telling it to someone over the phone – they could write it down as www.weare-for-you.co.uk or www.we-r-four-u.co.uk or even www.we_r_4_u.co.uk

So, wherever possible, avoid numbers, non-standard characters that people might not be familiar with, and abbreviation. A simple test you could do is to call someone you know who doesn’t use the internet much and tell them your web address and ask them to write it down.

What do all the abbreviations mean?

Put simply, a domain name is your website’s address on the internet. It’s the WWW (world wide web address) of your business. The name you choose matters a great deal.

A good domain name should be 3 things:

  • Easy to remember
  • Easy to type
  • Relevant to your service or brand

A web address generally consists of three parts:

1. The first part is nearly always www.

2. The second part will be the name you choose, i.e  manchesterdrycleaning

3. The technical name for the third part is the ‘Top Level Domain’ – or TDL for short, but I prefer to call it the ‘Country code’. This will be something like .co.uk, .org or .com
Here are a few ‘TDLs’ that are relevant to the UK:

.co.uk                    UK based Company

.com                      American company or internet based business

.org                        Charity or other non-profit organisation

.gov                       Government

.net                        Hosting or similar technology company


What if the name I want isn’t available?

If the name – or TDL – you want is already taken, you can try variations on the name of your business, For example, you may have to choose something with dashes and spaces in. It’s also worth checking when a taken name you want is up for renewal, and you can ask a registration company to contact you when it becomes available so you can buy it.

How do you register a domain name? It’s easier than it looks – follow the guide on a web domain registration website and you should be fine. Registering a domain name is easy. A .co.uk should cost you around £5 per year and a .com £10 per year. You can register it with a domain registrar such as www.heartinternet.co.uk or get your web design company to do it for you. But, if you do ask a web company to register a name for you – beware. Make sure you have proof or a receipt of the payment of that domain name registration, and that it is in YOUR name.

Get confirmation of web name ownership

Whoever registers the domain name and pays for it, owns it. If someone says ‘Oh, I’ll do it for you’, stop and think. If you don’t get confirmation of ownership, and you want to move web or hosting companies, you might find you have an ownership battle on. If your website name isn’t in your name and you don’t have a receipt for it, you may not own the domain name.

You could end up having to start all over again, new name, new website, new stationery and marketing, etc. Our advice would be to register your domain name yourself. It is easy.

If you do, make sure you keep track of when it is due to be renewed. Most registrars have an auto re-registration feature but be careful about your account set up details, check with the registration company if you’re unsure. Domain names have to be renewed, minimum yearly, or you lose them. You will get lots of reminders from the registration people in plenty of time, so don’t ignore them.

It’s not rocket science really, but it is something to consider carefully and not to rush. Think about the cost of banners and adverts, business cards and other marketing materials. Your website name will be on them all.

Make it memorable, make it clear, make it yours.

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