Take a look at the image below. Of course you see these everywhere and use them every day but it’s important you understand the two main elements that make up a successful domain name.
The domain name is the unique name you have chosen (usually your business name) and the top level domain is the suffix – such as .com, .co.uk, and .net.
So with that in mind, here are our top 10 tips:
1. Keep it as short as possible
Less is more! Longer and more complicated names may lead to mispronunciation, misspelling and potential customers not finding your website. Say it out loud! Does it roll off the tongue?
2. Make it unique
Make it memorable enough to differentiate yourself from the competition and avoid any possible copyright issues. Goodle.com probably isn’t the best idea. And if someone has your dream domain name, don’t despair – be creative, ask others, use a thesaurus or even change the order of words around.
3. Check your domain name isn’t trademarked
Here’s a great tool for checking trademarks.
4. Avoid unnecessary punctuation
Hyphens and underscores are not advisable. If someone has johnsmith.co.uk and you are eying up john-s_m_i_t_h.co.uk, please have a rethink.
Punctuation in domain names can be seen as spam (think what your email address would be) and are not easy to type into a mobile browser. Instead you could try tailoring your domain name to what it is you do e.g. johnsmithdesign.co.uk, or if you are targeting local customers, add in a location such as smithdesignlondon.co.uk.
Numbers are generally ok to use but try to register both the numbers and spelled versions if you can.
5. Don’t be too specific if you plan on expanding your business
It’s fine to have johnsmithlogos.co.uk as your domain name if you only ever plan on designing logos for the rest of your life. But what if you want to start offering websites? Potential customers may ignore your website if they think you offer one niche service so ensure your domain name has room to expand.
6. .com or .co.uk?
.com is the most used and recognised top level domain (or domain extension, see image above) in the world. .co.uk is the standard for all UK based domain names. Do you have to use one of these? No, but if it’s available I’d advise you buy it even if you want your primary domain name to be something different. People instinctively assume you have one of these.
I recommend having more than one domain extension. That way you can have your unique name – johnsmith.design – as your primary domain as well as johnsmithdesign.co.uk and have the .co.uk extension redirect to it.
7. Check availability on Social Media
Brand consistency is very important online. So if possible, keep your domain name and usernames on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter the same, e.g @johnsmithdesign
8. Use Namechk
Enter in any domain name at the top and this wonderful tool will show you if it’s available. And even better, it will also show you on which social media sites the corresponding usernames are available.
9. Buy your domain as soon as you can
Once you’ve confirmed your domain name, buy it as soon as possible to avoid someone else claiming it.
10. Buy from a recognised source
There are tons of places that sell domain names. And all are fine for the most part but just ensure they are an established company. I recommend purchasing your domain names through either 123-reg or Google Domains. 123-reg are one of the biggest and are always having deals on for new customers. (99p for a domain, yes please.) Google is great as you can link your domain directly to Gmail and their GSuite software during the purchase process.
If you have any questions about domain names then don’t hesitate to contact me.