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choosing domain namesTo the uninitiated, a domain name is bit that comes after the www. When you buy a domain name, you don’t actually own it outright. A bit like renting, as long as you keep up the annual renewal fees, you get to keep your domain name. A domain name could be likened to your street address.

Choosing the right domain name has to be THE most important issue surrounding a website project.

If your company name isn’t yet a household name, then whilst it is important to secure your company name as a domain name now, you should also consider securing a domain name that describes the problem you solve. It should be short and memorable. It should avoid any commonly misspelled words. You should also check that when written down it can’t be misread as something completely different.

 

Does Google use domain names in search results?

It used to be that having keywords in domain names would help your rankings in search engine results. However, recently Google have changed their algorithms with the introduction of Penguin, Panda and now Hummingbird. Having a keyword in your domain now seems to have little influence on your Google ranking. Which is good news – you don’t have to worry about weaving in keywords in your domain name!

.co.uk or .com?

Is it better to choose .co.uk or .com? is a question I often get asked. .com is associated with international and in particular the US, whereas .co.uk is associated with the United Kingdom. So whilst your business may be targeted for national business (i.e. UK), it’s still makes sense to secure the .com as well and have one pointing to the other so you don’t need to maintain two sites. .com sounds like a standard and if your desired .com domain has already been taken, then it’s unwise to take the .co.uk equivalent, as you risk loosing business to the .com site. It can also appear confusing to potential customers. As of this year (2014) you can now have a .uk  domain name which makes for an even shorter sharper domain name.

Other new top level domains

This year has seen the introduction of a new type of gTLD’s – Generic Top Level Domain. In addition to .com and .uk, you can now have domains that end in .london, .care, .club, .expert and so on.

Where to buy domain names?

I prefer to buy my .co.uk names from 123-reg.co.uk where you can buy in sterling and the rates are quite good. The only downside is as you’re going through the buying process, you keep being hit with upsell after upsell, so just remember to keep on track.
123 reg

If I’m researching domain names, then I might also go to GoDaddy.com as they have good tools for suggesting alternatives if your desired name is already taken.