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Tips on Buying a Domain Name for Your Business

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  • Published by David Pottrell

A business domain name (the addresses of the internet) is most likely one of the cheapest set-up costs you will face, but the domain name you choose could well end up being one of your most valuable assets, so it is important to get it right from the start. Here are just a few tips on making your first domain name purchase and how to avoid the pitfalls that many start-up businesses fall into.

Domain names (such as yotocreative.co.uk) are the addresses of the internet and will be used all over your business stationery, marketing materials and in Search Engine results to direct visitors to your website.

Make it Snappy & Relevant

Domain names should be short and memorable. It’s not always the case that visitors will want to reach your website via a click and you’ll want something snappy and relevant that you can easily explain over the phone or that doesn’t take up a whole side of your business cards. First and foremost try and secure your company name as your domain name. If that is taken then check for alternatives that make good sense. For example, you could add your location or nearest city.

A Word on ‘Keyword Rich’ Domains

It has been long argued that ‘Keyword Rich’ domains are beneficial for SEO. For example your business may be called “Posh Paws” but your domain name could be doggroomingparlourswindon.co.uk. We are not in a position to say either way but you can read this interesting article on the subject by Bloc Marketing and make up your own mind.

All we would say is that a longer and ‘Keyword Rich’ domain is probably going to do more harm than good when relaying it to clients over the phone or asking them to type it in from a flyer they have been handed. Also, if you build a great website that is updated on a regular basis, then you will do well in the Search Engine rankings anyway. SEO is about much more than just a domain name!

Choose the Correct TLD (Top Level Domain)

If you are a UK business (even a Sole Trader) then we would recommend a Nominet provided domain name. Nominet controls UK specific top level domain names. These are;

  • .co.uk – designed to be used by UK based businesses
  • .uk – designed to be used by UK based businesses (plus if you own the .co.uk version then the .uk will be made available to you until 10th June 2019)
  • .org.uk – designed to be used by UK based not-for-profit organisations such as charities
  • .me.uk – designed to be used by UK based individuals looking to develop a web presence
  • .net.uk – solely for the use of network providers such as web hosting companies
  • .ltd.uk – designed to be used by limited companies registered at Companies House in the UK (certain criteria must be met to secure a .ltd.uk domain name)
  • .plc.uk – designed to be used by public limited companies registered at Companies House in the UK (certain criteria must be met to secure a .plc.uk domain name)

Dot UK Domain Family

Other Options

Once you have your UK domain name you may want to check out other options such as .com, .net or .biz. These can be bought up for what you might term as ‘brand protection’ and should be redirected to your main domain name. For example, wearepeak.co.uk redirects to peak.agency. If your ideal domain name is taken then you may consider one of the new top-level domain names available. These include options such as .agency, .photography, .wedding, .fashion and .club. Although some of these new Top Level Domains have been available for a while, the uptake has not been great in the UK and it is perceived by many commentators that they will take a long time to become recognisable and used regularly.

Choosing a Registrar

It is common practice for a domain name to be registered on your behalf by a registrar (such as 123 Reg, Namesco or EUKHost). These registrars will usually provide web hosting options as well but domain names can be registered through one provider and the website hosted elsewhere by performing a simple nameserver update or DNS change. You should be aware that some domain registrars have a tie-in clause in their terms and conditions that prevents you from moving a domain name away from them within certain time periods (perhaps within the first month of registering or in the month leading up to renewal).

Domain Registrar

Should I ask my Web Designer to Register my Domain Name?

This is probably the quickest and easiest way to get your new domain name registered but here is a word of caution you should consider! If you go down this route then you must insist that the domain name is registered either to you or your business. All too often we come across clients who do not actually own their domain name. Instead it is registered in the name of the web designer or agency. This is very bad practice but you should be aware of it and insist that your domain name is registered to you. If in doubt you can check out the domain ownership details by doing a search at whois.domaintools.com.

Buying a Domain Name from a Broker or Third Party

Sometimes the domain name you want is owned or parked by a third party. It can be tempting to contact them directly and offer to buy the domain, especially if the price is right. But there are a few checks and best practices to follow if you do;

  1. Do some background checks. If a domain name has ‘history’ it may not be the dream domain you had hoped for. To learn a little more you should read this useful article.
  2. On initial contact with the incumbent owner do not make an offer, simply ask if the domain name is for sale.
  3. Have a top price in mind and stick to it. It’s easy to get carried away and end up paying way over the odds for a domain name.
  4. If you can then make the transaction through a domain brokerage service such as Sedo.
  5. Make sure that all of the details of your domain ownership are correct once the transaction has taken place. This can be done through a Whois lookup as detailed earlier in this article.

Sedo Website

Keep Your Details Updated

Once you have your domain name it is important to keep the details updated. Nominet are really hot on making sure that the details they hold for you and your domain name are correct and domains can be suspended if that information is found to be incorrect.

For example, you may have changed from a Sole Trader status to a Limited Company or moved premises and this should be reflected in your domain registration details.

By far the easiest way to do this is to create a Nominet account and then managing your domain through the Nominet online portal. If your domain has been registered in the correct way then your valid email address (the one associated with the domain) is all you will need to create your account. If you have multiple domains to update then doing this through the Nominet website is usually far cheaper than paying the admin fee for your domain registrar to do it for you. In fact you can update address details for free and transferring the ownership of domains to a new entity is a one-off payment of £12.00 including VAT, no matter how many you have to transfer.

Of course there are other factors associated with choosing a domain name but this article covers the main points to consider and your web design or marketing company should be able to advise you further when the time comes to purchase your ideal business domain name.

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