For the thousands of businesses which start up each year, or existing companies which want to create a better designed website, choosing the right website address can be a somewhat confusing and frustrating process.
What’s going to be the easiest for customers and potential customers to remember? What name will be best in terms of the effect it could have on search engine results? What should I do if the existing name of my business has already been registered and incorporated as a web address by someone else?
It’s important to remember that your web address, once chosen, can’t be changed and so you need to try and get this as right as possible from the outset.
1. Try and choose something associated with what your business actually does. You’ll probably find the shortest associated addresses have gone, but don’t let this put you off. For example, plumber.com has been taken, but variations around that might not have, such as plumberatlowrates.com.
If you’re very much a local business, it can be a good idea to incorporate your area's name into the address. Taking the example above, hullplumberatlowrates.com might be an option.
2. Think about what people might type into a search engine when looking for your services - if you incorporate these words into your website name, it’s more likely you’ll come high up in search engine results and people will find you. If you’re searching for a loft conversion company which builds ecologically friendly designs, you might type in "lofts", for example, and if you did you’d find an exact match.
3. Try and pick a name which is available in all the top level domains (TLDs) so that in future another business, or any individual, can’t come along and register an almost identical address, just with a different ending such as .org, .net, .biz etc.
There are dozens of TLDs available, and if you can’t or don’t buy them all, it’s a good idea to at least try and buy the main ones; this would mean .co.uk, .com, .biz, .net and .org.
If you find that your chosen name is available in .co.uk, but not .com, or visa-versa, it really might be a good idea to find a variation that is, rather than simply buying only one. This could prevent a very expensive buy out of someone else’s registered domain name at a future date!
4. It seems obvious to say, but try and keep your domain name as short as possible and as memorable as possible. If you think about some of the massively successful internet giants, they tend to have short, perhaps even slightly unusual names (see point 5), such as google, myspace, twitter, Wikipedia etc (whether 'unusual' works or not with your business largely depends on target audience and business itself). Others are more directly associated with their 'business' - weather.com, or homesforsale.co.uk.
5. If you think your business might eventually morph into something else, or branch out into different areas of opportunity, then it can pay to choose something that's less categorisable. You might currently sell DIY tools online, but who's to say you won't branch out into garden furniture or sports clothing at a future date?
6. Domain names can only contain certain "characters" - currently letters, numbers and dashes. So don't waste time thinking of great names which include spaces and symbols!
7. Don't go for a name that includes the name, or a name which is so closely associated as to be almost indistinguishable, a well-known brand as this could potentially land you in all sorts of legal hot water; for example, something like mrmcdonaldsburgers.com isn't a good idea! (unless your name is actually McDonald, then it's ok).
8. Use a reputable domain name supplier – one which might have been around for a few years and has a history of registering names. You don't want to pay for a name and then have that name, and the money you paid for it, disappear. Also try and choose a company which lets you edit your domain name for things such as email forwarding as this is useful if your business circumstances change.
9. As suggested above, if you buy and register a number of domain names, it's a good idea to use just the one provider. This keeps them all in one place so when/if they come up for renewal and/or you need to administer them, you can do so in the one place. Also reminders when renewal is due will come from just one source.
10. Think very carefully if you're just going to register one of the main domains, if the other main domain name is taken, as perhaps you think it's truly business critical to use it. There are a number of server implications: If you're a UK company, but with a .com address which is hosted in the USA, this would rank worse (or not at all) in UK only search results.
With all of the above issues, we can provide guidance, discuss name ideas and naming conventions, and register your chosen domain name for you. Contact us if you would like any help.