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Tips for choosing a domain name for your business

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Monday, 27 July, 2009

Content Whether you're a small business or an individual, choosing a domain name can be a frustrating and quite personal task. Particularly if you are new to setting up a website.

However, unlike choosing a name for your new-born, each domain name is unique - you won't find yourself bumping into another mark.com down the digital road.

Hence, this creates the all too common scenario of having to "find", rather than "choose" a unique domain to create your slice of cyberspace. It goes without saying that knowing your domain name options will make the task easier.

Anatomy of a domain name

A domain name comes in two parts - the name itself, which you make up, and the suffix which you choose from a number of options:

www.[name].[suffix]

Suffixes

Suffixes are most commonly either ".com", ".net" or ".org", which originate from the US domain registrar. There are more suffix options, including ones that are country specific. More about domain suffixes further down.

Its worth noting that when composing your domain name, obtaining a unique domain may be as simple as choosing a different suffix. Therefore, for the above two parts, it will be important to choose what each part will be, but then also to choose what the combination will be.

To be able to purchase the domain, the combination of these two elements need to be available. I.e. No one else should already have bought it.

A starting point is whether you already have either a business name, or a personal name from which you can create a domain. If you do, then a check on www.netbenefit.com will reveal its availability as a ".com". If you don't, then you have the freedom of seeing what's available and making your decisions then.

For instance, when I co-founded my design company, since we would specialise in digital, it was important to us that we could get the ".com" with our name. We consequently made up a word (Kibook), which was easily available.

Depending on your circumstances, but in particular if you're a business, the following are points to consider.

Tips for choosing the name

  • Its best to keep things simple. Choose a name which can be easily spoken, spelt, read, and written. "Katz" might look funky, but try explaining that every time you quote your domain.
  • The shorter the better.
  • Choose a name that can uniquely identify you as much as possible.
  • If you want to extend the domain to indicate what your site does or what its for, then keep it as short as possible or use it as an additional domain (e.g. joe-design-by-numbers.com) which you later set up to redirect to your main domain.
  • Include keywords for your site's purpose if possible. For example, if you clean drains, use both those words.

Tips for choosing the domain suffix (.com, .org etc)

  • Forget two and three letter ".com"s and obvious word combinations of slightly longer domains - they've likely been taken. A quick search will prove it.
  • Unless you're an organisation or network, your best choice for your domain is to choose a ".com". As the most common suffix, your contacts and customers are less likely to get your web address wrong. Also, if you type a single name into the address bar of most browsers, it may default to assuming you mean a ".com" and will try to reach "<yourname>.com".
  • Choose your suffix to represent what you will use the domain for. I.e. a ".com" or ".co.uk" for a company (or individual) and a ".org" or ".org.uk" for an organisation such as a charity. This will give that little bit more info to your visitors.
  • If more than one suffix is relevant to you and available, then buy the other options. If anything, the cost is negligible for a business, and it will stop competitors from getting them and stealing your visitors when you're successful. For instance, my company uses Kibook.com as the main domain for our website and email addresses, but also own kibook.co.uk and kibook.net. The ".co.uk" is more a backup, and we have emails set up with the same prefixes to forward to the relevant ".com" email address (i.e. mark@kibook.co.uk, also forwards to my main email account "mark@kibook.com).

Lastly, to search for and actually buy a domain, you can use any number of domain name and web hosting companies online. Personally, I use the following:

Freeparking.co.uk for UK domains (.co.uk etc)
Westhost.com for US domains (.com etc)

Hopefully, the above will help give some pointers about getting a domain name. It is by no means a comprehensive discussion, and I'll hopefully be looking into other aspects of domains in the future.

Categories

Filoflow. Technology.

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