Choosing the right domain name is really quite a simple process although deciding between all the options can be more difficult.
Are you a new or existing business?
If you are an existing business then you will want to try and find a domain name that either reflects your business name or the services your business provides.
If you are in the process of setting up a new business, I would suggest you check that a suitable domain name is available when choosing your business name, or at least check to see which domains have already been taken and whether they are being used by potential competitors.
Choosing a domain extension
Domain extensions are the letters that come after your domain name (.com, .uk etc.). There are literally hundreds to choose from however in my experience uk based companies still prefer to get a .co.uk domain. If another company is using a .co.uk domain name and you have the same domain with a different extension, the fear is, potential customers will see the .co.uk domain first and visit at best the wrong site or at worst your competitors site.
Why can’t I register a .uk domain name?
Imagine the excitement you’re searching for your perfect domain name and everything has been taken, but what’s that, there’s a .uk version of the domain you want but you can’t register it?
.UK domains were introduced on the 10 June 2014, they are intended to bring the uk in line with the rest of europe by having a single two letter extension instead of the .co.uk which we currently use. In order to make things fair for anyone who has already registered the .co.uk version of their domain,first refusal is being offered until the 10 June 2019. To find out more about who is eligible to register a .uk domain you can contact me by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or read the following article on .uk domains.
Regional variations offer companies who only operate locally to add geographical locations to their domains. One of my clients chose www.teessideexecutivecars.co.uk. This suited his business as the majority of his business is from people coming to or leaving the Teesside region.
Blocked or parked domains & domains for sale
Taking the example used above www.executivecars.co.uk, whilst an excellent domain name, it isn’t actually being used for a website. It is being used for ‘parked domain monetization’. The owner of the domain will receive revenue from creating links to other sites. Generally they will link to businesses that have a similar activity to the domain name.
This practice is not a great concern to me and if in the case of www.teessideexecutivecars.co.uk you are not going to be overly concerned about potential customers stumbling across www.executivecars.co.uk, as it will be clear it is not in competition.
You may also find that parked domains are up for sale, this again is not a great concern as domain owners have generally registered the domain just to try and sell and not to actually promote a business. Early on in my career I enquired about buying domains for some of my clients however the prices put on these domains are generally out of the reach of SME’s.
Registering a domain
Once you’ve decided on a domain, (searched the web for any potential competition that might have a similar name), you are ready to register your domain. I currently use a company called LCN to register my domains however there are plenty of other registras to choose from. Currently I charge £1 per month to register a .co.uk domain name which includes a small management and set up fee. You can register a domain for less however you need to be confident in setting up your domain to work with your website, email and ftp software.
Setting up your domain name
A domain name is your internet address, put simply, it points to the location of your website and directs your emails to and from your service provider. You can keep your domain name whilst changing the location of either your website hosting or email provider by changing the dns records, this is generally best left to someone who knows what they are doing.
Resolving domain name problems
Occasionally I am contacted by businesses who have lost control of either their website, email or domain name. Whilst not a common problem it can occur and for a number of reasons, usually someone in the link going out of business or not paying a bill.
The good news is it’s usually fairly straightforward to resolve with a quick search to find where the problem is. If we find a more complicated issue Nominet, the official registry for .uk domain names can intervene for a small fee.