By : Sarah Stott
Having worked in the domain name industry for a number of years, registering names to me seems simple and straightforward. But, I am never shocked by the amount of internet users still out there that question the needs and use of a domain. “Why do I need one?”, “What do I do to get one?”, “Why do they differ in prices?”, “What is the difference between the providers?”, “What extension should I choose?” …
What is a domain name?
Domain names are user-friendly versions of web addresses that act as your postal address online. They are made up of a random selection of letters and numbers which connects your identity to a computer network. Domain names give these sequences a more user friendly visibility, instead of having to remember lots of letters and numbers. However, they shouldn’t be viewed as simple as this. These days, domain names are valuable business assets. Imagine for a second if Nike didn’t have nike.com or Amazon lost their domain. Domains now are arguably the most important part of a brand.
Why would you need to register a domain name?
Websites are now synonymous with business, without which, many businesses will simply not have survived in current society. Buying trends rise every year for online shopping as we see high streets falling into the background. Websites not only provide a place to sell online, they act as a shop-front and advertisement for businesses and brands.
A domain name should be viewed as part of your online brand, it is your name and how you are searched for by your customers. Whether you are showcasing your skills as a professional photographer, selling customized gifts through an online store, or giving a menu for your restaurant, you will find that people respond much more positively to you when they can interact with you online. The money you spend when you register a domain will be well worth it when you see how much new business your website can attract. If you shop around for cheap domain sites, then you will probably be surprised at how little it will actually cost you.
Domain names are not only important to protect business concerns, people also register domain names for personal use; to create a blog around your favorite hobby or to share your photos online.
What domain name is the best for you?
Once you have your business name, it is advisable to search and register the corresponding domain name. This is simply to protect your brand online, even if you don’t plan on launching a website for a number of months. This just secures your chosen name in advance. As domain names are offered on a first come-first served basis, there would be nothing stopping someone else registering the domain name you want if you fail to secure it ahead.
With the number of domain names now in existence, we often get asked : ‘our business name is taken, what can we do?’ If your business name is already registered, it is important to take a look at the current registrant of that domain. Visit the URL and lookup the WHOIS information (The WHOIS data gives registrant and owner details for domain names). The domain itself may not actually be in use so it could be possible to buy the domain name from the current owner. This may cost more than a new registration, but if you want the domain of your business name, you may deem this extra cost worth it. If the current owner is an established business already trading on your business name, consider how close they are to you and your target audience. For example, if you had your heart set on the name ‘scissors’ for your new hair salon in Warrington but saw that a rival salon already had the domain name ‘scissors’ and they were also in Warrington it might be advisable to go back to the drawing board and select an alternative name.
Once you have chosen and found an available combination of words or a business name, you also need to consider which extension you are going to use; i.e. whether your domain is going to end in ‘.com’, ‘.co.uk’ ‘.net’ or one of the other variations. A UK domain name helps to identify you as a UK-based business, while international domain extensions are perfect for people who are planning to trade overseas. Local domain names are a way to instantly identify yourself as a business operating within that country. These are useful because many web searchers will make a search using their country-specific domain extension. If the ‘co.uk’ or ‘.com’ extensions are unavailable for your domain name, we can help to recommend which other extension may be suitable for your business, such as ‘.net’, ‘.info’, or ‘.biz’.
However, we recommend that all of our customers – particularly those who intend to use their websites for business purposes – think about registering a domain on several different extensions. This will help you in a number of ways; firstly, it will ensure that your customers always find your site even if they type in the wrong extension; and secondly, it will prevent other people from trading under your name and reputation.
How much does it cost to register a domain name?
To register or buy a domain name, you have to go through a domain registrar. These companies often vary in price and policies concerning things such as how long you have the domain for. Some registrars also offered added incentives such as an email address which allows you to create an address on your domain such as info@ or sales@. It is also recommended to find a provider that offers a control panel which allows you to administer your domain name easily and quickly by yourself online.
Are there any rules for registering a domain name?
Some domain names have particular rules in relation to who is allowed to register them. For example, some international suffixes come with a requirement that the registrant must have a physical local presence. Similarly, only businesses which are actually LTDs or PLCs can register a domain on ‘.ltd.uk’ or ‘plc.uk’ extensions.
When conducting a domain name search, bear in mind the following basic rules :
- Excluding the extension, domains should be no longer than 63 characters
- Domains must be alphanumerical, meaning that they can consist only of letters (a-z) and numbers (0-9).
- They can contain a hyphen (-) to separate words, but other symbols such as an ampersand (&) or exclamation mark (!) are not allowed. Domains names cannot begin or end with a hyphen.
- All characters in a domain names are lower case
This article was written by Sarah Stott. Sarah is a qualified marketing professional with over 8 years commercial experience. Having spent the last 5 years within Internet and technology-focused industries, she joined Siteopia in 2011. Siteopia provides domain name registration and hosting services to businesses and consumers. Visit our site at Siteopia.com!