All about Domain Names
If you are thinking about getting a website there are a few things you need to know about getting online. In the first of our beginners guides to getting onto the internet we look at domain names; what they are, how to choose one and how to buy one.
What’s in a Domain Name?
The first thing you need to get yourself a website is a domain name. This is going to be something along the lines of www.yourcompanyname.co.uk.
There are basically three parts to a domain name and we will use ours to go through it. Our full domain name is www.sourmashinternet.co.uk and we will work from right to left.
Top Level Domain
The top level domain is co.uk. Well actually it isn’t. uk is the Top Level Domain (TLD) but for the purposes of this we will assume it is!! If you want to dig deeper then check out this article on Wikipedia. This is obviously very common in the UK along with .com and .net. You may have seen on the TV recently that there have been a glut of new TLDs introduced or set to be introduced. TLDs like .london, .biz, .wales, .info are just some of the ones now on offer.
Second Level Domain
The Second Level Domain (SLD) is sourmashinternet. Along with the TLD this is what is commonly referred to as a the Domain Name. So the SLD is probably going to be your company name.
The subdomain is www. Subdomains allow you to channel different bits of traffic to different parts of your company. For example you may see subdomains like shop or blog. Obviously www (which stands for World Wide Web) is by far the most common but you can set up pretty much anything you like.
Choosing your Domain Name
So … what should your domain name be?
- Short: Long domain names are hard to remember and they can be a real pain in the neck! Fitting email@example.com onto a business card is no fun!
- Memorable: you may struggle to build your business (or ‘brand’) if your domain name is not memorable.
- Unique: Obviously no two people can own the same domain name … but if it’s too generic then again you may struggle to build your brand.
- Relevant: If we had just got sourmash.co.uk then you wouldn’t have a clue what we did!
- Not Error-Prone: Common thinking is that you should avoid ‘quirky’ or out of the ordinary Top Level Domains that can be error prone. Would you remember that someones domain name was ‘companyname.plc.uk’? We would always recommend going with .co.uk, .net or .com.
- Avoid hyphens: There is often a temptation that if the actual domain name you want is not available to go with one with hyphens. Don’t! They can have a negative impact on SEO and most people will forget your domain name has hyphens and end up on a different site. Also they can be perceived as a ‘second choice’ domain name … which is probably exactly what they were!
Is the Domain Name you want available?
Obviously with millions of websites there is a chance that the domain name you want may not be available. You will need to check what is available.
Most companies that offer domain name registration will show a range of alternatives for the one you want. Companies like GoDaddy*and 123-Reg* all offer a domain name search facility as well as the facility to buy the one you choose.
We have used Freezone* since we registered our first domain back in the mid 1990’s and have never found any reason to do otherwise!
How much for a Domain Name?
The cost of domain names is pretty standard across most providers but do vary across Top Level Domains.
- .com and .net are about £10 per year
- .co.uk is about £5 per year
How to buy a Domain Name
Companies like GoDaddy*, 123-Reg* and Freezone* all offer the facility to buy your Domain Name. You can buy just the domain name, the domain plus email or the domain name plus email plus hosting. You can also add SSL Certificates if you are thinking of selling your goods / services online. There are other upsells like Privacy Protection that some companies offer that really aren’t worth the money. If you are going to buy a domain name make sure you read the small print and are very sure about what is and what isn’t included.
As well as the domain name there are also Emails and Hosting to consider. The next instalments of our beginners guide to getting on the internet will cover off these areas.
If you are looking to get your business onto the internet or are fed up with the service you are getting from your current provider then please get in touch. We would be delighted to discuss your requirements and let you know how we can help.
* Please note that we are not recommending or endorsing these providers. They are just three of the most popular domain name registration services and are used as examples only.