If you want to start a website you are going to need to register a domain name. If this is your first website you are probably wondering how to go about this and what you need to think about. Here is iDigLocal’s brief guide to choosing a domain name
What are domain names?
Your website, if you have one, exists on a server somewhere. In order for people to be able to find it that website needs some unique identifier. The unique identifier is really the IP address of that server, the sequence of numbers like 126.96.36.199, which is google’s IP. Try typing “http://188.8.131.52/” into the address bar of your browser and see where you end up. A domain name is really a human friendly version of that IP address, all websites have them.
In its simplest form a domain name is made up of a mid-level domain and a top-level domain (TLD). The “www” section is actually refering to the machine folder where the website is hosted. You can also have an alternative sub-domain e.g. we have “hosting.idiglocal.co.uk”. Sometimes people use an alternative sub-domain for a mobile friendly version of their website e.g. “mobile.idiglocal.co.uk”
How to choose a mid-level domain name
Your websites domain name needs needs to convey at least one of two things, possible both.
Firstly, and foremost, the name of your brand or business. Having a domain name with the same name of your company instills confidence. If you have a company called “IT solutions Ltd” if a potential customer then visits your site with a domain name of “cheapIT.co.uk” confussion reigns, the customer is unsure of who they are dealing with, “ITsolutions.co.uk” is a far better choice.
Secondly, if possible, the name should convey, or include within it some indication of what it is you do. If you cannot do the first as the domain has already been taken, then do the second, or combine the two. “ITsolutions.co.uk” already does combine the two, but if, for example your company name was “Pippkins” you could try “pippkinsITsolutions.co.uk”.
But, do try to choose something that is easy to remember and easy to read. i.e. abbreviations are a bad idea unless that is actually your brand name.
Which is better? well we would always recommend building up your brand and so the first choice, use your company or brand name. There has been a tendency previously to use the latter in an attempt to improve search engine rankings, however, this is not necessary. If you company adopts the correct search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy it is not necessary and your company/brand will build a following rather than just a website.
How to choose a top-level domain (TLD)
Well, TLDs don’t really make too much difference, its a question of your customer’s perception of your company/brand.
The first thing of note is country specific domains like .co.uk, .in, .nl etc… These actually suggest a geographic location for your business. If your clients are mainly UK based then it is better to have a .co.uk domain name, if your clients are in the netherlands or you wish to start up a branch of your business selling to the Dutch market then a .nl TLD would be better. For business across international boundaries a .com domain works well, there are also other generic TLDs like .co, .net, .biz which make a very good alternative. There is also one for Europe if your trade is limited to Europe .eu.
Some generic TLDs are good for suggesting an organisation or non-profit type of business, for instance .info or .org. For a personal blog why not ry .name or .me.
Really choice of TLD is up to you but i would decide whether its is a business or not, and then if so where are your prospective clients. One thing we do strongly advise against is putting more weight on TLD that on the mid-level domain. i.e. don’t pick a bad domain name jsut so that you can get a .com TLD.
Should you buy multiple domains?
There is something in the world of domains called a parked domain. We have a parked domain for this website “www.idiglocal.com”. We don’t use it as we are trying to convey our UK local credentials butif you were to type it into your web browser you would go to our main domain name “www.idiglocal.co.uk”. The .com version is used as a parked domain. You can therefore have lots of domain names pointing to the same website. The advantage of this is that it can remove some TLD assumptions on the part of your customer but it can also allow for customers spelling mistakes i.e. if you have the domain “ITsolutions.co.uk” you could also buy “IYSolutions.co.uk”, “y” is next to “t” on the QWERTY keyboard they might type a “y” by mistake but they would still go to your website if you set it up as a parked domain.
Why not have a search for a domain name that might suit your company, but remember, have a bit of a think about what you are looking for first.