When it comes to your internet address, it’s “location, location, location” that’s important, just like in the real world. If your business website does not have a respectable address, consumers will be put off visiting and dealing with you.
Your internet address is actually a string of numbers, interspersed with full-stops, known as an Internet Protocol (IP) address. To simplify matters and save us all from the dilemma of having to identify websites numerically (something like this: 126.96.36.199), some clever clogs invented the Domain Name System (DNS). Instead of a number, your web address (also known as a Uniform Resource Locator or URL) is assigned a unique name, hopefully memorable enough for your site to stand out in cyberspace for those who are seeking your products or services.
Sadly, the internet being as crowded as it is with websites (currently around one and a quarter billion of them!), you can’t always have the domain name you want, because it may have been snapped up by someone else.
When you start to consider a domain name for your business website, you need to have some alternatives to hand, so make a list of likely names. You want something professional sounding, catchy and memorable, preferably containing a hint of what the site is all about. If you’re a plumber working in Westbury, Wilts, for example, something like “westburyplumbers.co.uk” would do the trick and probably help your SEO into the bargain. (I use this as an example … it’s a pretty sure bet that ‘westburyplumbers’ is already taken, along with most descriptive names for products and services, so you have to get very creative.)
To own a domain name you have to have it registered with an organisation called ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). You cannot do this personally – you have to first buy the domain name from an ICANN accredited domain name registrar. There are plenty of these online, and it should only cost a few quid for a year’s registration per name (which is annually renewable).
If you commission Dentons to build your business website and don’t already own a domain, domain name registration is all part of the package, and the first step in the process.
A domain name gives your business credibility. It also stays with you if you change your web hosting service, which means it’s much like a telephone number that you opt to keep if you change providers. This is vital if you have a customer base who know and frequent your site, because otherwise you would have to go through the process of getting a new address (URL) and informing your clients of the change if you moved hosts.
You can go the cheap route and publish your website with a free host, ending up with a URL reading something like “www.freehosting/westburyplumbers”. That won’t do much to inspire confidence in your customers. People can’t be blamed for thinking that if you can’t afford the price of a domain name, your plumbing skills might be questionable!
TIPS FOR DOMAIN NAMING FROM THE DENTONS PRO’S:
- Length: Domain names can be up to 67 characters long, but its arguable whether long or short names work best. Shorter ones are no doubt easier for people to remember and type into a browser. On the other hand it’s difficult to find relevant short names that haven’t already been sold, and long names that include some of your site’s keywords will do better in the search engines.
- Brand names and location or service descriptors are recommended rather than generic terms, because when searching for a service or product internet users are more likely to use particular branding terms than generic ones. For example, no-one will look for “yeastextract.com” when they are wanting Marmite!
- To get a domain name as close as possible to the one you want, you may think of using a hyphen, such as “abc-bookstore.com” if “abcbookstore.com” is not available. This is risky, because it’s not only more difficult to type, but also more difficult for people looking for you to know or remember that the hyphen is there.
- Suffixes: If you can’t get abcbookstore.com because it is no longer available, you may be tempted to opt for an available alternative like abcbookstore.net or abcbookstore.info. Most people, though, when looking for your business online, will assume it has a .com or .co.uk suffix, and be put off when they can’t find it. You could get around this by making sure you advertise and market your website liberally with its full domain name if you settle for a lesser known extension.
- It might be best to put the cart before the horse, and consider finding a good available domain name to suit your business FIRST, and then name the business accordingly! It’s definitely best if your domain name matches your company name, because it reinforces the brand awareness.
If you need to strengthen your business web presence, give Dentons Digital a call on 01373 822224. We have all sorts of solutions to offer.