Domain name registration
– how to get it right
Your website's domain name is very important and you should give careful thought to its selection and registration. Get it right and it will become a real asset to your business.
Depending upon your business and the service you provide, you may wish to register other domain names too. Any you do register can be configured to point to the same website if required.
Choosing domain names
The name you choose for your website doesn't need to be the actual name of your business – instead, it could be related to goods or services you provide. For example, in the UK, the retailer B&Q uses the domain name DIY.com
Firstly, if you already have an established business, try to secure the domain name that most closely follows the name that your business is known by. Although this may not be the one you actually use for promoting your website, it will safeguard it from being registered by anyone else.
Your business name, however, may not be unique and your prefered domain name may already have been registered by someone else. In which case, think of a suitable variant which is still available.
.com, .co.uk – or what?
My advice, is to try to secure both the .com and the .co.uk versions (if you're in the UK). These are the most widely recognised, and although there is an increasing number of domain name versions available, you don't need to feel tempted to register them all – only the ones that are relevant to you.
Short and sweet
Ideally, your website's domain name should be short and distinctive, as that will make it easier for people to remember – and to type in to a browser. It could also be a key element in future brand awareness and marketing. For example: say you've created a new product or service and you'd like it to have its own website, but the generic name for it has already been taken. Consider instead, creating a completely new "made-up" name for it; one that isn't in the dictionary. In an overcrowded marketplace, manufacturers have had to do this for years, but now they also have to ensure that the internet domain names are also available. With a bit of thought, you can do the same.
For businesses that operate in a defined area, you may wish to add that locality to your domain name. There's a greater chance of the domain name being available, and it also makes it immediately relevant to customers within that area. Indeed, when people are searching on the internet, they will now commonly key-in what they're looking for, together with the area they hope to find it in. If that happens to coincide with your domain name, your website could be well-placed in the search results for them to visit.
Domain name renewal
You never actually "own" a domain name, merely register it for a period of time. For .com domains, you can register them for between one and ten years, whereas .co.uk domains have a two-year registration period. Therefore, if you were to register a .com and a .co.uk it would make sense to register both for two years, then you'll know they'll both be due for renewal at the same time.
As your presence on the internet becomes more established, your domain names' importance increases too and you do not want to forget to renew them. You should be alerted by email well in advance of when your registration is due to expire, so you should always ensure that the company you've registered the domains with always has an up-to-date email address for you. Fail to do this and you won't get any reminders, so make a note in your diary too!
Caution: Losing a domain name could be costly, or impossible to get back.
Domain name scams
Watch out for unscrupulous companies contacting you, either trying to persuade you to register additional domain names (supposedly to stop others from registering them) and other companies who send you a "friendly reminder" that your domains are due to expire (not to be confused with legitimate reminders from whoever you registered with). In both cases, these people do not have your interests at heart – just your money. With domain names requiring regular renewal, it's become highly lucrative for them if they can secure your long-term custom, by whatever means.