Top Tips for Choosing and registering a domain name:
If this is your first website, we have put together a few useful notes and tips and how to choose and then register a domain name for your website
- Take your time, and do your research. You are taking the first step to putting your business online. It takes a long time to get established with search engines and build a good reputation, so get this bit right now and avoid trying to rebrand later.
- Check to make sure your perfect domain name hasn't already been registered by someone else. This is easy. Just visit one of the many domain registration companies and type in your new domain into their checker - eg. here: https://instantdomainsearch.com/
- If you find your domain has already been registered, best to start again and come up something more original and unique.
- The ideal domain name is short and memorable. Don't be tempted to start adding hyphens or numbers. If "mikesplumbingcompany.com" is already taken, don't even think about registering "mikes-plumbing-company.com" or "123mikesplumbingcompany.com" etc etc. At best this is confusing for your customers. At worst, you could end up losing business to the other company or even get involved in a copyright infringement claim.
- Once you have chosen your ideal domain name and have confirmed it is available, then register the domain yourself. Don't leave this to a third party or your website designer. You might be best buddies right now, but things change. Apart from falling out, the person who registered your domain could move and lose touch etc. It is vital that you retain complete ownership & control of your domain(s). The smooth running of your website depends on it.
- You can register your domain online with hundreds of different companies. Many of these companies will also offer website hosting. While this is something you will need in order to get your website up and running, you are not obliged to use the same company who registered your domain for your hosting as well. In fact, there are arguements for keeping both services separate so you are free to shop around for the best hosting deals.
- Domain registration is not that expensive but you do need to renew it every year or couple of years. Expect to pay @ £6 per year for a ".co.uk" domain, and @ £10 per year for a ".com"
- There are a bewildering number of (TLD) extensions such as .biz, .info, .net etc etc. You can probably safely ignore most of these, but it could make sense for you to register both the ".co.uk" & the ".com" options for your domain, if only to stop someone else registering them. Note that if you register both extensions, you would normally to choose one to be your main domain. If you are based in the UK and serve local / uk-based customers then the .co.uk domain is ideal for this. You can then redirect all traffic to the .com variation to your website automatically to avoid any confusion. If your business is more "international", then the .com may be more appropriate for you.
- If you are more a charity / organisation than a business, you might consider the ".org" option instead.
- Once your domain name is registered, please take security seriously. Use strong, unique passwords for your domain registration company and update them now and again. If someone were to get hold of or guess your domain account password, they can quickly wreak total havoc by blocking you out and redirecting your domain and even email to anywhere they like!
- Domain registration, like car tax needs renewed every year. Most domain companies offer a "auto-renew" option which is normally selected by default, but it's worth checking. You should receive a few reminders via email that your domain is coming up for renewal.
- Domain registation records are available to the public, so anyone can look up your domain and see details such as who registered the domain and where they are based. If privacy is important to you, most domain registration companies offer a special "privacy" option for a small permium to keep your personal details private.
- Make sure you keep your personal registration details up to date. It is the name, address and email address listed here that will be used if they ever need to contact you or there is some kind of problem or dipute.
- Once you have secured your business domain, best to rush out and grab any related social media pages. So setup new facebook, twitter, instagram and pinterest pages using your domain. This is free and relatively quick / easy. Doesn't matter if you don't intend to use these accounts right away, it's just to make sure that nobody else can claim them and then cause potential confusion for your customers.