Choosing Your Domain Name
If it’s a new website that you’re looking to design, create and build then you’re going to need to choose a domain name for your for your online brand. This is relatively easy, if you already have a company name and the relevant domain name is available in ether the .com and .co.uk extension (this choice will depend on which country you are targeting customers in). If this is the case then it is simply a case of registering the name, preferably with the company you intend to host your website with (See below for more details).
.Com or .Co.UK
One question we are asked by many UK businesses is, which extension should they purchase? the .com or the .co.uk. Well, to be safe, we would advise that you take both if they are available. This will help with protecting your brand for the future. If you are able to register both, it is simply a matter of preference in deciding which one you are going to use. The other can then be redirected, so that no matter which one a customer types in they will always end up at your website.
The more complicated situation is when you have a company name, but the domain name has already been taken. Let’s take the example of a small business which we’ve called Pauls Plumbing, you check with your chosen domain name seller (click here to check domain name availability) and paulsplumbing.com has already been registered and is being used by another plumbing business. Don’t panic, most small businesses are local and not national and if this is the case for your business then the solution could be as simple as just focusing on the local area you cover.So why not try paulsplumbing with your town name added to it, for example paulsplumbingbristol.com. This can also help conversations as it shows to customers from the start that you are a local based company in their area.
If you’re not a local based business or you are concerned that you may wish to expand into other towns and cities in the future, then adding stop characters to the domain name could be the solution you are looking for. By adding these to domain names such as pauls-plumbing.com or paultheplumber.com you should be able to find an available option that’s right for your business.
Before you register the URL we would advise a little research to see how the original domain ranks in the search engines, as you will want to protect your brand and not have customers confused over which website to visit (for more on this, see our brand management page). We would also never advise choosing a domain name if all the other main extensions have already been taken and are in use, we have seen some businesses choose the .org or .net extensions for a domain name where two or more other businesses are already competing for top spot with the .com and .co.uk extensions. If this is the position you business find its self in then we would strongly advise choosing an alternative domain name. Not ranking top for your brand term will end up costing you in the future, and could be the difference between the success and failure of your business.
Protect and Build Your Brand
Another consideration that you should take into account when choosing your domain name is that Google will make suggestions when people are searching for you, this can cause visitors to bleed away from your website to your competitors. As an example let’s look at a courier business, say you’re planning to start your domain name with the word parcel, if you start typing the word parcel in to Google, it will automatically try to determine what you are looking for and bring up the biggest existing courier companies whose domain names start with the word parcel. This means that every time a customer searches for your online brand, they will have your competitors name shown to them by Google. This brand bleed could cost anything up to 30% of the visitor numbers looking directly for your brand term. To see how badly you are likely to be affected by this, simply start by typing in the domain you are looking at to see which competitors come up.
To combat this type of brand bleed, companies are now choosing stranger and stranger domain names, some completely unrelated to their industry.
Remember, your domain name is going to be your brand in the online world, it is not something you are going to want to change unless you really have to. So spend a reasonable amount of time when making this important decision and get it right first time.
Once you have chosen your domain name, the next step is to buy and register it. There are hundreds of different companies out there, all selling domain names, most of which charge similar prices. I would always recommend buying your domain names from the same company that you are planning to use for hosting your website. This is just because it is easier and unless you’re planning to purchase lots of different domain names, the difference in price is likely to be less than a pound/dollar.