Guide to domain names
February 14th, 2019
Domain names have a huge influence on your business name and branding. With many options available it's difficult trying to decide which domain name would work best for your business. For this blog post we have put together a small guide to domain names covering what they are, renewals, deciding a name and what to do if they domain you want is taken.
What is a Domain Name?
A domain name essentially converts numerical addresses of servers connected to the internet into human friendly addresses we understand. The numeric addresses are like telephone numbers in your phone book and the domain name acts like the contact's name. Without the contact name it would be much more difficult to locate what you were looking for.
A domain name is used to determine your website address and accompanying email addresses. They are made up for three parts, the Sub-domain, the Domain name and the Top-level-domain.
The top-level-domain is the ending of your website address, for example .com or .co.uk. The domain name is the name that you choose to use. In our case, our domain is webfactory.co.uk which gives us a web address of www.webfactory.co.uk and an email address firstname.lastname@example.org. No two people can have the same actual domain name combined with the same top-level-domain. This means that if you register yourcompany.co.uk, no one else can have that address. They can however register yourcompany.com as .com is a different top-level-domain to .co.uk.
What is a Domain Authority?
Domain authorities manage domain systems. The important thing to know is that a domain name is never purchased outright, you effectively buy the rights to a domain name for a specific period of time from the domain authority. As long as you ensure you renew the domain name when it comes to the end of that specific period, you can be sure you will retain the exclusive right to use that domain. You can buy your domain yourself from a domain registrar or you might have it bundled as part of a website package.
What Domain Name Should I Choose?
When deciding on a Domain name there are two approaches. One approach is to use your company name and the other is to use a term or phrase which reflect the subject of your website. As an example, in our case we chose webfactory but we could have chosen affordablewebsites as an alternative. Choosing your company name can make it easier for people who know of your business to find you. Alternatively, choosing a keyword based domain name can make it clearer as to what you do and might be more memorable. Historically, it has been argued that a domain name containing terms you want to rank well for on Google can help you. It's important to consider that the domain name will also form part of your email addresses - If you chose not to use your company name, your email address won't include your company name either. When deciding what your domain name is there are some factors you should bear in mind:
Spelling - You should try to avoid difficult to spell words.
Use of numbers - Try to avoid numbers. When you give your domain name to someone verbally it will cause confusion as to weather a number should be entered as a number or as the word.
Long Domain - Long domain names can be a bad idea. The main issue for a user is trying to type a very long domain name into a web browser. This difficulty is amplified if they are searching from a phone. The other issue is that a long domain name can lead to an even longer email address, remember you add the username and @ before the domain name.
Use of hyphens - We recommend avoiding hyphens, they lead to confusion. Generally people only opt for hyphens when they are not able to get the domain they wanted. If that is the case, having someone else with a very similar domain to yours could lose you website traffic.
What Top-level-domain Name Should I Choose?
Once you have decided what you would like as your domain name, the next thing to consider is the end part, the Top-level-domain. There are many Top-level-domains (TLDs) to choose from. In recent years the options have exploded with additional descriptive TLDs such as .info and .design to name a couple. Despite this, our advice is generally to stick to the main recognisable options. Here in the UK .co.uk, .com and .org.uk are the most recognisable TLDs.
.co.uk - This is a good and popular choice for the vast majority of UK companies. It is well recognised and is designed specifically for UK trading companies.
.com - This is also well recognised, although is generally more focused for US companies or companies who are serving a global audience.
.org.uk - This is not recommended for normal businesses but for charities and groups based in the UK this is a good choice.
What If The Domain I Want Is Taken?
Often choosing the ideal domain name is not the hard part, it's when you realise the domain you want has already been registered by someone else. Firstly if you really want the domain, you could try to contact the owner and see if they are willing to sell you the domain name. This can be fairly expensive depending on the domain name you want. Although we cannot advise on legal avenues, there may be a legal route you could take if the domain name is being used in a malicious way to harm your business. However, the most common solution to this problem is to simply choose a different domain name. This might mean you will have to break some of the considerations outlined above, however it is the quicker and cheaper route.
How Do I Protect My Registered Domain?
You can protect your domain name by registering not only the domain name you want to use but also close variants. For example, registering multiple top-level-domain versions of your actual domain name e.g. webfactory.co.uk, webfactory.com and if there are possible spelling variants register those too. Doing this will discourage others from using a similar domain name. This will also help those who enter the incorrect domain name to still find you as you can redirect them to the correct address.
We hope this blog post helps you. Choosing a domain name is not something you should rush into. Your domain name once chosen is very hard to change without causing disruption to your business. If you would like advice about getting a new website designed and advice on which domain to choose, get in touch as we would be happy to help.
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