What's your business domain name and how did you choose it? Was it the one you wanted? Perhaps the domain name you wanted was taken and you had to settle for your second choice
Building a website is a vital way to promote your company and sell to a wider audience. Your domain name is the address that people type in to locate your site, like www.yourdomainname.co.uk.
Where to buy domain names
It's easy to buy domain names online and they're cheap. Try companies like 123-Reg, Domain.com, GoDaddy, Names.co.uk, Hover or UK2. These sites will let you search for different domain names so you can see if they're available.
Typically you'll pay £3 - £5 a year for a .co.uk domain name or £10 - £15 a year for a .com domain name. Some business web hosting packages come with a domain name included.
Make sure you renew your name each year, or when it expires it could be snapped up by someone else.
Keep it short
Most experts agree that shorter, simpler domain names are best. Keep it short and sweet and - if it's available - get the .com or .co.uk version, because people are still more impressed by those than other extensions.
In recent years lots of new domain name extensions have become available extending your options. These can be helpful if you operate in specific locations or sectors. A .cymru, .wales or .scot domain name might be attractive if your business in located in Wales or Scotland. However, you should consider these newer extensions carefully as some internet users are still unfamiliar with these, so you may be better off sticking with .co.uk or .com.
Since most shorter domain names are already taken, you'll probably have to choose a longer one. This is where people sometimes come unstuck.
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Keep it simple
When it comes to picking a domain name, 'creative spelling' says you're annoying and that you think your potential customers are psychic. Any words you would have to spell out to a client are also bad (your domain name should be intuitive) and suggest you don't care how people find you.
If you want to be found, you need a domain that says what you do. For instance, if you were an office cleaning service business based in London, you might try CleanerLondon.com or OfficeCleaning.com first.
If they are gone, add a modifier. BestLondonCleaners.com for instance, allows you to tell everyone what you do and where you do it. And it tells them that you're the best.
If you need some inspiration for your domain name, try looking in an online thesaurus for alternative words or using a domain suggestion tool like Domainr.
To avoid people getting your business confused with other companies, buy your domain name with all the common extensions (like .com, .co.uk and so on), if they're available.
Room for growth
Think about your future business plans when choosing a domain name. If you're very specific (like BestLondonCleaners), it becomes more difficult to add content if you diversify, for example.
You may wish to choose something that allows you to expand. Amazon.com is a good example. The name Amazon has nothing to do with books, DVDs or any of the things it sells. So when Amazon started to sell garden furniture, it wasn't restricted.
You can either choose something broad enough to encompass future expansion or something very specific and targeted to what you do. Broad allows you more creativity with the name, but specific has greater search engine optimisation (SEO) value and helps promote your company name directly in the address bar.
Finally, think about your professional image. What you call yourself may be your professional online trading domain for a long time. Building up a reputation and switching domains later could be tricky.
It's therefore important your domain name sends the right message about your business. It's a key part of your branding that will help customers find you online.