Over the last few months, I have been doing more research about the importance of domain names. This has been due to phone calls “telling” us that our business needs to buy a certain domain name. They have also said the domain name is our business and town so “should buy it before someone else does”. So what is a domain name and why is it important to you, your business and your website? I will break down how domain names work. It will also look at how much they cost and whether a domain name is important to your business.
Lets start with –
What is a domain name?
A domain name is the web address you type to get to a website. It is what people see first before they enter your business online.
Buying your domain name does not give you a website. It gives you a place to build it. But that’s not all, you also need a web host which will store the website data for you.
Think of it like a house. Your domain name is your address, this is what people see at the front. Your web host is the building, this is where you can store your content. Your belongings in your house are the website content.
Once I buy a domain name is it mine?
No. You basically “rent” your domain name and it has to be renewed. You can renew it from 1 year to 5 years. If you are just getting going, you might just keep the 1 year renewals for a while to keep yearly costs down. Once established you may take out longer terms so you don’t have to worry about it for a while. If you forget to renew it, you will often get a small amount of time (a month usually) to reclaim it.
When it comes to web design, hosting and domain,, the only thing you really own at the end of it is the content. Even web hosting is really renting “space”.
What’s the difference between .com, .co.uk or .gov, etc?
These are called top level domains (TLDs).
.com’s are more popular as these are international and classed as generic. Other ones include .org, .biz .tv, etc. These are often higher priced than others, usually £20+ a year
Next are your locality domains, such as .co.uk (united kingdom), .au (Australia), etc. These are called Country Code TLDs. You can still find these anywhere in the world, even though they are country-specific. These should be your go to web domain names and are often around £15-20 a year.
Other domains are associated with government (.gov) or schools (.sch.uk), etc. These are called sponsored TLDs and would be specific to the type of larger organisation you are associated with.
Why would a domain name cost thousands?
Some domain names are competitive. Type in londonsolicitor in godaddy and check out the prices. Why would someone pay this much? Because it really fits with their brand and it is easy for people to remember.
Let’s think of houses again. If you want to live in London Kensington, then you are going to pay more for that address. You could pay for a similar house up north, like Gateshead, but because it’s not as popular it is cheaper (nothing against Gateshead, I just wanted an example and that was the first place that popped in my head). Domain names are the online real estate business.
Does that mean you should have a domain name that’s popular and competitive? God no! There are a million ways you can find a domain name to fit your business and brand. The main thing is that “your house” needs to be full and look pretty on the inside, and that’s what google finds more important. But if you really want that address and have got money to waste, then go ahead.
Someone is selling me a domain name at £2000. Is that correct?
It could be, however, Cold Call domain name sellers don’t have a good name for themselves. This is because it’s their business and have high rates of commission for selling it. So they will fill you full of crap just to get you to buy it. If you do get a call, check on sites like 123-reg.co.uk to see if it is available. You might be able to buy it yourself at a realistic price. If it is not available, consider how much you really need this domain. The domain name providers might even have other cheaper options which are just as suitable for your business.
So how do I pick a domain name for my business?
Let’s start with the two most popular extensions in the UK.
Do I need a .com or a .co.uk?
I have always looked at it this way. How big are you planning to be as a business? If you are considering becoming an international company then pick the .com. If you are a local gardener or landscaper that only plans to work in Cardiff or never leave the uk, then get a .co.uk.
What should my domain contain?
Nowadays, most people just click on a link. They very rarely have to remember a domain name. With QR codes, links from your social media and organic or ads on google, nobody needs to remember it. People remember your business name more than the domain. So, few people now type in the domain they are searching for on Google and type the name of the business instead. Does that mean that your domain can be anything? Not really. If you can get your direct business name, then you should buy this, this will help with branding and will be unique. You may want to consider your trade and town you predominantly work in, such as plumberlondon.co.uk. Other tips include:-
Keep your domain name short – your domain should be under 15 characters where possible
Make it easy to pronounce and spell – there is nothing worse than difficult words. Keep it simple.
Avoid hyphens in the domain name – It annoys people, people forget to use it and some people don’t even know what a hyphen is. It’s not a major problem nowadays as most people, as I said before, can just click the link and get to your website but it is good practice.
Avoid doubled letters – people struggle to see two letters together e.g. builderreading.co.uk. Double letters can be easily missed.
Leave room to expand – Although I have been using towns as an example, if you plan to work in the whole county, you might be better leaving the town off.
Research your domain name – if you are planning to register a business similar to the domain name then check company house as well first. It could be a waste.
Use domain generators – really struggling? Use a domain name generator like nameboy to give you a few more ideas.
Most importantly, make sure that the domain name is relevant to your business – if you have a domain that is called fishingtackle.co.uk and you sell flowers, it’s going to cause issues. People will click on your website thinking its a fishing tackle shop, find out you sell flowers, then click back off your website again. Your bounce rate will increase and it will confuse people. Google will punish you for this and you won’t be found. That’s why using your business name as your domain is a much better option and less confusing for the user.
I already have a domain, do I need to buy more?
You can have more than one domain and that’s not a bad think but this question really opens up a lot more questions about how you use it if you do.
How should I use the other domain names?
If you are just going to let it sit there then, there is no point having it. Even a redirect to your original site is pretty much a waste. If you have no content on it then the domain won’t rank and nobody will find it. Why use that domain to make them go to your other one. Just tell them the one that has content on it. However, you could use it as an SEO microsite. This will provide some content about your business or a specific part of your business. You can then link this to your main website. If you’re buying it just because you don’t want anybody else to have it, then you really are just wasting you’re money and, to be honest, I think you are rather sad.
The domain is very similar to my current one, should I buy it?
Why? You have one that is fit for purpose. Just make sure your branding is clear on your website so people recognise they have come to the right website for your business.
I’ve been told that a certain domain name will be good for my business and that if I don’t buy it then someone else will buy it and get all the business. Is that true?
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. NO! Someone MIGHT buy it and do business from that domain but they won’t get the business JUST because they’ve bought that specific domain name. Google doesn’t really care about domain names anymore. They have bots that search your content. It does check to see if the domain is relevant to the content but thats about it. As I said earlier, an empty website will not rank on Google as it has nothing to offer. Content is King (I’m fed up of saying this but it’s definitely true). As I also said a redirect from that domain to yours is also useless.
Can I not just copy the content on my website on to the other website and run both?
Definitely NOT! Google will find they have duplicate content and you could be punished on both sites because of this. It’s really not worth the risk. That’s why using one as a micro-site would be better. You can create original content for this but then redirect to your original website for more information.
Can I just put my other website on to the new domain?
You can swap your old website to the new website and have a redirect from your old website, for a short while. I would only do this for a short while while the new website ranks then stop buying the old one. It can really help with the branding when you get your domain right, so if you think it’s worth it then do it. However, if the domain is similar and you are paying considerably less for the current one, then why waste your money?
I’ve bought the .co.uk but the .com has become available, should I buy it?
As I said earlier, it does depend on whether you are considering going international. If you are not then don’t waste your money.
I’m creating a new service for my business, do I set this up as a new domain?
That depends on if the service is related to the current business. For example, as a business we expanded from websites into digital marketing. This meant we could just update our services page of things we had to offer. However, if we decided that we were going to run a restaurant downstairs and call it PinkSquare Meals, we would setup a different domain for this as it’s not associated with the digital marketing aspect of our company and would cause confusion.
Why are you using .media?
We like it. It fits with our brand and we got it at a good price per year. We also sell our websites and digital marketing services worldwide, which is why we wanted to get rid of the .co.uk.
Overall, domain names are not as important as they used to be. They are still a big business but that should not mean that you have to pay extortionate prices for a domain name. The importance of domains are their relevance to your content on the site. The questions you should be thinking about before buying a domain name are:-
“is it relevant to my business?”,
“Will it help with my branding?”
“Will I use it?”
“do I REALLY need this domain name?”.