Which domain name should I choose for my website?

Every website needs a domain name. It is unique address that computers (and human visitors) use to find your website on the internet. A typical domain name looks like this:

www.steyningwebdesign.com

Alternatively the end part of the  name can also be .co.uk, .co, .net, .org .london, .gallery and so on. Once there were only a few endings to choose from. Now there are hundreds available.

When you register a domain name, there are two parts you have to think about:

a) the first part of the name (eg steyningwebdesign) which tends to be the name of your business, words and phrases closely related to your business, or your name.
b) the domain name extension or suffix (eg steyningwebdesign.com, webdesignsteyning.co.uk, steyningwebdesigner.net etc.)

What makes a good domain name?

Choosing the right domain name is important because it will be your identity on the web. Here are a few tips.

1) Keep it short and simple to type

Make it easy for your visitor to remember your name by choosing a short name if possible. The longer you make your domain name, the more difficult it is to remember. Long names are more difficult to type too. You run the risk of your visitor mistyping or misspelling your name and not finding your site at all.

2) Stick to the formatting rules

Domain names must be in lower case
Numbers are allowed
Symbols and punctuation are not allowed

3) Avoid numbers and hyphens

Numbers and hyphens tend to make your domain difficult to remember and type. Avoid if you can.

4) Use appropriate key words and phrases in your name

www.webdesignsteyning.com – suitable for a web design company based in Steyning
www.lizwilkinsonartist.com – suitable for an artist
www.lizwilkinsonauthor.com – suitable for an author
www.lizwilkinsonbooks.com – suitable for an author
www.sussexeaterie.co.uk – suitable for a restaurant in Sussex
www.steyninglassrepair..co.uk – suitable for a glass repair business based in Steyning

Generally:

– If you have a personal site, choose your name
– If you have a business site, choose the name of your business or the service you offer, or keywords related to your business
– If you are an artist, choose your name
– If you are an established author, choose your name or pen name
– If you want to solely promote a single book, choose the name of your book  (you may want to set up a personal site too to promote your other work)
– If you are a new author and have written one book, but plan to write others, it may be best to opt for your name rather than the name of your book

.com or .co.uk?

Choose a .com name if you or your business are targeting an international market.
Choose a .co.uk name if your target market is based in the UK only

Note that .com names are more expensive to register.

There are now many more suffixes available to register – see section 9 below.

5) Don’t use ‘spammy’ domain names

Historically, Google gave priority to websites with domain names that contained keywords relevant to the business or service offered. Eg www.websitedesignforartists.com. These days, keywords in domain names are less important than they used to be because Google gives greater priority to the actual content of the site. In fact very ‘spammy’ keyword domain names are frowned upon – eg www.bestwindowclearingserviceinpreston.co.uk.

6) Make your name memorable

Short, catchy names are easier to remember than long, complex names. For example:

www.sussexdogfoods.co.uk
is better than
www.deliciousfoodthatdogslikesussex.co.uk

7) Think about targeting an area

If you are a local business targeting a specific area only, you should try to include the area in your domain name. For example:

www.sussexdrains.co.uk for a drain business targeting the Sussex area only.

8) Research your domain name

Before you register a domain name, so some research on Google. Find out what sites are developed on other versions of your name (.com, .co.uk, .net etc). Do a search for your proposed name. What comes up?  If nothing much, then you stand a good chance of ranking in the number one position. If your chosen domain name is something like www.amazonbookshop.com you will find yourself competing against the mighty Amazon and will stand no chance of getting to the number one position. You might also be sued for copyright! The more obscure your name, the better chance you stand of getting to the number one position.

9) Choose an appropriate domain name suffix

There used to be only a few domain name extensions such as .com, .co.uk, .net, .org etc. A few years ago, there was a huge expansion in the number of endings available. The ending you choose should be appropriate to the nature of your website.

.com – tends to be the cream of domain names – the most common and easily recognised  world-wide. They are slightly easier to remember and type. If you have the choice and budget, this is the best domain to go for
.co.uk – a cheaper name that is suitable if you or your business is based in the UK and only aspires to a UK target audience
.co – often used by companies and business websites
.info – usually used for information only sites
.org – suitable for charities and non-profit organisations
.biz – also used for commercial sites
.london – for business or people based in London
.me – for blogs and personal sites
.net – for IT and techncial sites
.gallery – for art galleries
.guru – for experts in a particular field

Generally, if it’s available, the dot com version of your name is usually the best option for artists, authors and small businesses. They are a bit more expensive, are well worth the investment in the long run.However, from the search engines point of view, it makes no difference what the ending of your domain name is, except that geographic endings (.co.uk, .it, .fr) may have advantage in those countries.

10) Availability of domain names

Domain names tend to sell quickly. If you have an idea for a site, it’s best to register the domain name as soon as possible before someone else registers it before you.

Many domain names relating to actual names are no longer available, so you may need to append the end of your name – www.lizwilkinsonartist.com or www.lizwilkinsonauthor.com

11) Names not to choose

Generally, do not choose silly or obscure names that are difficult to remember UNLESS they are directly related to the content of your site – eg the name of a book you have published or you are creating a brand around the name eg Zoopla, Wufoo, Amazon

12) Brand protection

If you have a business, it may be worth considering buying various versions of your name so nobody can set up a rival site using a similar name. For example, if your business is called Woofy  Limited, you could consider registering the following names:

Woofy.com
Woofy.co.uk
Woofy.org
Woofy.co
Woofy.eu
Woofy.info
Woofy.net
Woofy.eu
And so on…..

There are many different endings to domain names. It’s important to remember that each domain name needs to be renewed each year, so the more you register, the greater your renewal costs.  Covering all options could get very expensive. If you are based in the UK, the .co.uk and .com names will probably suffice if you are on a limited budget.

13) Domain name privacy

Although your personal details are used to register a domain name (your name, address and telephone number), to protect your privacy these details are no longer visible on the WHOIS database of domain name owners.

14) Broadcast your domain name

Once your website has been set up you need to broadcast your address to the world by putting it on all your marketing materials, letter heads and email signatures etc. to encourage people to visit your site.

Web Design for the Arts and Small Businesses

Studio Websites (for artists): websitedesignforartists.com 
Bookwebs (for writers): bookwebs.co.uk
Bright Sea Media (business): brightseamedia.com
General enquiries: enquiries@brightseamedia.com
Tel (UK): 01903 879362

Web design Steyning and all other areas.

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