Domain Name Registration | Choosing and registering
your website domain name
You know you need a website, but what domain name are you going to use?
Should your domain name be your company name?
Maybe not – unless your company has a name that is well-known, and instantly recognized.
Otherwise it is a good idea to go for a for a domain name that represents the type of product or industry you operate in. If your company is Jones & Smith Ltd and you are accountants you then have the choice of
This is vital to good search engine optimization because domain names with valid key words will ultimately rank higher on searches for those keywords. We have seen this many times!
How do you choose an effective name?
This is a name that is going to be connected with your business forever so it is important to make sure you are 100% happy with your choice. Take some time here to really think carefully about your choice.
Your domain name, if correctly chosen, can alone be a powerful marketing tool! The older a website, the more credibility it has within the search engines, so you cannot afford to come back later and change it!
A domain name should be relevant and easy to remember. It should reflect the keywords of the industry it operates in. This is important because it can impact on your search engine rankings at a later stage. A sensible and pertinent choice, like www.expert-accountants.co.uk.is great, but beware of overdoing the keywords - www.expert-accountants-for-quick-cheap-tax-returns is not so good. There is a balance, in fact it has been suggested that Google prefer two-word domains, and we would certainly not recommend more than three.
Apart from what you do, where you do it could be important too. If your business only covers a certain geographic area, it might be useful to include that in your name i.e: instead of www.best-plumber.co.uk, your domain could be www.best-plumber-dorset.co.uk. This would greatly improve your rankings within your local area but do think carefully about future expansion.
That wasn’t too tricky! But hang on, should those keywords be hyphenated or not? Google apparently does have the ability to distinguish between words without hyphens, but not all the other search engines can. It is therefore better to hyphenate if you can. It is particularly important where a string could become tricky to spell (i.e: www.yellow-widgets.co.uk is easier than www.yellowwidgets.co.uk). Also, be careful that you choose words that are easy and unambiguous to spell and understand – optimisation/optimization; program/programme - your searchers have a 50% chance of getting it wrong! Also, don’t be tempted by trendy spellings and mobile phone type abbreviations, they may not be recognized by many.
www.therapistdorset.co.uk can be read as 'therapist dorset' or 'the rapist dorset' !!!!! Another reason we prefer hyphens.
Which domain extension is right for you - .co.uk .com .net ?
This can be a bit confusing, as there are more and more extensions appearing all the time. Partly you are limited to what is available, and it’s not a bad idea to have a look at who owns the others, then you need to consider carefully if your business focus is a certain geographic area.
A website ending in .co.uk is seen by Google to be based in the UK. It will therefore feature more strongly in searches in the UK. (The choice of hosting company can also have a bearing on this, please refer to domain hosting page for more information.)
A .com extension is viewed as international and will not feature as highly in a UK wide search. The .co.uk extension is no longer the only way of being recognized as a UK website, .uk.com is an alternate domain for the United Kingdom, and extensions such as .org.uk and .me.uk could also be used. New extensions are being introduced regularly, some with restrictions on usage (.name for individuals, .mobi for mobile devices). Have a look at what’s available to you. Also, bear in mind that the physical location of your hosting company will impact on this. This will be explained in more detail when you get to the Hosting page, but briefly if your hosting company is based in Germany, your website (and therefore your business!) may well be seen as being based in Germany, particularly if you use a .com extension.
Should you try and buy all the extensions for your domain?
If you can afford it, why not, simply to prevent anyone else from buying them – but be careful, you could end up owning a lot of unnecessary domains. A lot of UK companies try to buy both the .com and the .co.uk.
How do you register your website domain name?
Your hosting company should be able to register your domain name for you, and it is probably best to keep it all together if you can. However, there are masses of domain registration websites out there, and if you have a domain name registered with someone other than your chosen hosting company, your hosting company will be able to have it transferred. Your hosting and registration company should remind you when your domain is due for renewal, but you can always check yourself by using www.whois-search.com/whois/.
Always check that you will own the domainname, as some domain registrars will insist on having control over the domains they register. Ensure too, that you can transfer the domain to another registrar, should you choose to, and also will a transfer incur any fees. Nothing worse that being stuck with a hosting company you don’t like. Registration can take up to a couple of day before your site appears online. Now you own a domain name for a certain time period, the next step is to have it hosted and to have a website constructed.
Have you considered your future business plans?
Although your domain name should reflect the keywords most relevant to you, be careful that you have left yourself scope to expand your business. You may have a site called www.website-hosting.co.uk. Great – except the internet opens up and you want to add website advertising packages. Then you expand and you want to sell website design. Suddenly, your domain name is inappropriate and does not reflect your full range of services. Maybe www.internet-marketing.co.uk would have been a better idea in the first place. This is also relevant if you include a town or county in your name and then decide to move or expand to other towns or counties.
Is it easier to buy an existing expired domain name?
There are two possible reasons you may want to do this:
- The domain name you want is already registered but is available for sale – be sure you are paying a fair price and that you are buying it outright
- You are impatient and want a website that already has a page rank. This used to be a “back-door” to quicker page ranking, but Google have become wise to it, and any page rank or search engine “goodwill” that you think you are buying can be lost as soon as the name is purchased. If you do buy an existing domain, try to change as few details as possible i.e: keep the same hosting company, domain registrar etc. thus appearing as part of a total business transfer and not just a domain sale.
Remember, no-one has yet got rich registering and selling domain names. The value prescribed to a domain rests largely with the content.