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Small Business Website Domain Names – A Simple Guide to Getting It Right

Choosing your Domain Name.

Getting the right domain name is really important. Here are a few tips to make sure you get it right first time and your customers can always remember you.

Let’s break up a domain to start with.

There are three main components that make up a domain name.

1 WWW,
2 YourNameHere,
3 TLD

1. www or not to www? As you may know www merely stands for World Wide Web. This is a section of the Internet that is used for hypertext transfer documents i.e. websites. When someone types your domain name into their browser it goes off to find out what the IP address is for address. With the IP address the browser now knows where your website is hosted and can go to the web server that hosts your website to request the relevant page. So why do some websites show www and some not? By using the www part of the domain the server administrator can send your browser to an IP address different to your website if they preferred. I prefer to keep the address bar as clear and short as possible so remove the www from the address.

2. Domain names. These need to be memorable, preferably short and easy to spell. I chose WebDO as it’s only five characters, it sums up what I do and DO are my initials. This part of your name has to be unique which now means it’s quite hard to get short domains. The important thing to remember is you can’t have spaces so domains end up as one big word unless you use hyphens. A note of caution. The lack of spaces in websites can lead to embarrassing names. The good people of Penistone, South Yorkshire need to be careful when choosing theirs so as not to fall foul of adult content filtering! You have been warned.

3. TLD? Is this the latest boyband to be discovered on The X-Factor? No it stands for Top Level Domain. This is the last part of your domain name. Think about your market before you choose this part. If you operate solely in the UK then.co.uk immediately lets your customers know that you’re UK based. If you’re a charity or not-for-profit think about using.org or.org.uk. If you’re aiming for global domination the.com and.net should be on your list. If you want to protect your brand identity closely then you’ll need to register lots of different TLDs. Don’t panic, you don’t need a separate website for each one. You can point them towards your existing site so you only need manage one site. The last thing you need to know about domain names is that you never actually own them. You merely lease the right to use them for a period of time. You tend to register.co.uk for periods of two years and.com for periods on one year. At the end of this registration period you will need to renew your registration or your domain will be released and someone else could easily register it. Make sure your host will remind you that your renewal is coming up to avoid losing your name as there are domain harvesters who snap up recently expired domains in the hope of selling them back to the original owner for a hefty profit or they might point your old domain name to their website to pickup some of your traffic. Even worse some of the websites they point your customers to can be categorised as adults only.

So to sum up:

Try to keep it short, simple, easy to spell, easy to remember, and targeted to your audience.

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