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Tips on choosing and registering a domain name

Registering a domain name

Before the launch of any business, there are countless crucial decisions to make – including the name of the new venture, branding, and who the target customers are. Closely linked to these are the choice of domain name – which for some businesses, particularly those in e-commerce, can be as recognisable as the brand name itself.

First impressions count, and so the right domain name can make a world of difference to your credibility with potential customers, suppliers, media, prospective employees and anyone who visits your website. The right domain name can become synonymous with your business – and the wrong one could be disastrous.

Keep it simple

The words or combination of words used in your domain name won’t just affect your brand identity and help build brand recognition, they will likely impact your success in search engines too. If you’ve chosen something difficult to type, too long or difficult to pronounce, you may find you lose visitors before they’ve even arrived at your website. Make sure it’s catchy, easy to spell and avoid using hyphens or numbers; these are harder to relay verbally and are open to misinterpretation.

Use the right extension

Avoid using other countries’ domain names – for example .IT when you are a UK business – this may seem clever, but will instantly impact your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) ranking before you’ve even thought about content.

Try to avoid any trademark or copyright problems, and don’t try to play on an existing brand name. If in doubt, seek advice on whether you are infringing copyright rules. If you’re stuck for inspiration you can use domain name generators to see potential combinations of your chosen key words or business name that you may not have thought of.

Is it brandable – or ‘does what it says on the tin’?

There are arguments either way on this and no right answer. But generally, if you are creating a brand and want your website to stand out from others that will come up under key word searches, then choosing a brand name and using it in your domain can help to differentiate you from the competition. If you want your business to grow and you have the budget to develop your brand identity effectively then this may be the way to go, because you aren’t then locked into one service or product as your brand evolves.

However, if you are trying to get mainly local business and offer a service that people will be searching for using specific key words; adopting a ‘does what it says on the tin’ approach to choosing your domain name could be more effective. DIY giant B&Q has the domain diy.com – so if it works for them, it could work for you.

Either way, try to incorporate at least one key word to help with SEO.

Now you’ve chosen your domain name – where and how do you buy it?

The easiest way to do this is to use a domain name management service, many of which can be found by doing a quick online search. Search for your domain and a list of available combinations will come up. Usually .com or .co.uk is the preferred option but .business and .biz are considered to be the premium domains of the future so if you see one available, it might be worth considering for longevity. Again, it comes down to where you will be looking for customers, how they will be searching for your service and what future goals you have for your business and brand.

Remember, if the domain is not available, is it for sale? You can contact the owner, as it’s always worth asking.

Ultimately SEO ranking will be affected by a myriad of factors including the content you have on your site, but as the first impression of you and your business, the domain name you choose can have a significant impact. Discuss your ideas with family or friends, get them to tell you if it’s memorable, simple and catchy enough. You could also ask the person or company who is developing your website for advice. Whatever your process is for choosing your domain name, choose wiselyand ultimately, make sure it’s one you’re happy with and that reflects your business ethos well. If all goes well and your new venture is a success, you’ll be associated with that domain name for a long time!