Choosing a domain name for your business
A website is a vital marketing tool for your business – many people use the internet now to find the products or services they are looking for.
Therefore it’s an extremely valuable contact point for you and your potential online customers.
If they are looking for what you are offering, and they can find you easily through a search engine such as Google, your business will be on the path to success.
It’s important you choose a good domain name – this is basically your internet address, or URL, where your website can be found at, e.g. studential.com.
As well as describing the nature of your business, your website adds to your brand identity and allows you to sell over the internet.
This means customers get access to information about your products or services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A website allows you to sell whenever, wherever, allowing you to trade continually.
If you have a domain name in mind but find the .com and .co.uk have already been taken, don’t worry – you can play around with it to find a similar alternative that isn’t taken.
For example, joebloggsfloristry.com could be changed to jblogsfloristry.com or jbfloristry.com.
Letters, numbers and hyphens can all be used to vary your domain name and distinguish yourself from your competitors.
Although the example above makes it obvious what the business is about, you don’t necessarily have to choose a domain name that reflects the nature of your business.
Apple has created a world-famous identity through their Apple logo and website, despite having nothing to do with selling fruit!
Think carefully before deciding on a domain name – jot down all your ideas and look at each one in turn. Is it memorable? It should be something people can easily recall.
How does it look when you put it on your stationary, e.g. business cards and letterheads?
Make it shorter rather than longer, and make sure it’s in line with the brand you have already started establishing.
Remember there are millions of websites on the internet these days, so a short, simple and snappy URL makes more sense than a long-winded one.
If you choose a domain name that is the same as your company name or brand, then this will make it easier for people to find you on the internet.
In addition to your website domain name, think about your email address. A lot of business is conducted over the internet by email, so keep your email address simple and memorable too.
When you have come up with a suitable domain name, you need to thinking about the ending.
Many business owners will tell you that .com and .co.uk are the most desirable, with .com being the best.
However, this doesn’t mean you have to choose one of these. There are other options available such as .net, .org and .info. It depends on the nature of your business and whether you are a national or international company, or both.
With more and more websites being registered every day, .com is becoming less desirable as businesses use their knowledge and creativity to search for new alternatives.
We would still recommend that you register the .com version if possible though, even if you only normally use the .co.uk version.
This will help protect your brand name and stop competitors bagging a similar website to yours. You want to keep competitors away from your territory at all times.
Whatever domain suffixes you decide to go with, try to make sure they at least include .co.uk so that you can be identified as a British brand.
You can check to see whether a particular domain name is available by going to easily.co.uk, although there are many other domain search websites out there you can use.
Registering your domain
Once you have chosen the exact domain name you want, and you know it is not already taken, you will then need to register it. This can be done through websites such as godaddy.com and nic.co.uk.
Nominet (nic.c.o.uk) advises individual business owners and companies to register their domain through an ISP. This is because many internet service providers (ISPs) are members of Nominet.
As soon as you have registered with an internet service provider, they will pass your application to be checked securely by Nominet.
It is recommended that you shop around for the best deal for you, as fees, contract terms and levels of service vary wildly between different providers.
Does each provider offer something else besides the basic domain registration? This might include a free home page template, email addresses and other useful tools.
Check through their terms and conditions carefully, and see if they allow you to move to another ISP if you are unhappy with their services for some reason.
If you choose not to register with an ISP, there are hundreds of companies who offer domain registration facilities.
If your budget will stretch, it’s best to splash out a bit more money and go with a reputable provider that you can count on.
The cheapest option doesn’t always mean the best, and this is certainly the case with domain registration.
Paying out a bit more now could save you money and hassle in the future.
When you have selected a company to register your domain with, the process is fairly painless and short-lived.
After you have paid the fee to secure your domain (expect this to range from anything to free of charge, up to £200), a template of your domain name will be sent off to the network information centre (NIC).
If your registration is accepted, the company you registered with will set up a domain name system entry.
This basically means they will set your name up with a serve that will collect and store registered domains so that you can be found and accessed on the internet.
This can take between 24 hours and several days depending on who you registered with.
As soon as this is done, your business is up and running online!
If you liked this article you may wish to check out Constructing A Winning Website to help kick-start your online trading.