Choosing and Registering Your Website Domain Name

November 24, 2011 by  Filed under: Domain 

You need to carefully consider how your domain name will affect your future search engine rankings and user friendliness. It is very important to know exactly what your website is going to do for you.

Should your domain name be your company name?

It is usually 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 “jones-and-smith.co.uk”, or “expert-accountants.co.uk” . 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. 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. A sensible and pertinent choice, like “expert-accountants.co.uk” is great. 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. If your business only covers a certain geographic area, it might be useful to include that in your name – instead of “best-plumber.co.uk”, your domain could be “best-plumber-dorset.co.uk”. This would greatly improve your rankings within your local area. but do think carefully about future expansion.

Should those keywords be hyphenated or not?

It is important where a string could become tricky to spell (i.e: “yellow-widgets.co.uk” is easier than “yellowwidgets.co.uk”). Also, be careful that you choose words that are easy and unambiguous to spell and understand – optimization/optimisation; program/programme – your searchers have a 50% chance of getting it wrong!

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. 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. 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. 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 websites. A lot of UK companies try to buy both the .com and the .co.uk. If your site is well designed and well optimized, it will attract visitors regardless of other similarly named sites!

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. Domains are registered for either one or two years (usually two), and then need to be renewed. Your hosting and registration company should remind you when your domain is due for renewal, but you can always check yourself by using http://www.whois-search.com/whois/.

Always check that you will own the domain name, as some domain registrars will insist on having control over the domains they register. Registration can take up to a couple of day before your site appears online. Your site will be “parked” until a web server has hosted it, and will then appear with a “site under construction” page until you have created a website with content.

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 “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 “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 will 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 .

Summary.

A website is a vital marketing tool for all businesses! Choosing a domain name for your website is just the first of many equally important decisions you will need to make before your website becomes a reality. It is not easy trying to reflect everything your business does in two or three words, but it is worth it. The value of this step will make other decisions further along the line so much easier and clearer.

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