Without domain names the internet would be a very different place with each device connected having an Internet protocol (IP) address: a unique string of four numbers separated by periods, such as 126.96.36.199., remembering the IP addresses of all of your favourite websites would be nearly impossible and so the Internet Engineering Task Force introduced their pioneering Domain Name System (DNS), this simply replaces the IP address with your ready recognisable domain name.
There are some advantages in owning a high-quality domain name, say you have a business selling frozen yoghurts if you choose the domain name 1244.co.uk as opposed to frozenyogurt.co.uk then this would be much harder for potential clients to remember.
A good quality, well-chosen domain name will not only protect your brand and make you look more professional, it also improves search engine rankings, will help generate traffic and it is a virtual asset which tends to increase in value over time.
Make your domain name memorable
When you’re choosing your new domain name, it’s worth bearing in mind that search engines like Google aren’t the only way for people to find your website.
You might mention your website to someone so that they can look it up later, for example, and it might be printed on your business cards or leaflets. Either way, they’ll have to type the website address into their browser for themselves, so a domain name that's easy to remember will definitely help.
That means your domain name needs to be easy to remember, easy to say and easy to type. In other words, the shorter and simpler, the better.
To keep your domain name simple, it’s best to avoid certain things, such as:-
- Numbers – these cause confusion because, when spoken, it’s not clear whether a number should be spelt out or in numerical form (1, could be 1 or one)
- Long words, or words that are difficult to spell
- More than two or three words
The exception to the rule on hyphens is that if you really want a particular domain name but it isn’t available, because someone else has it, you might find that a hyphenated version is available, the other option to this is using a different extension if available.
For example, frozenyogurt.co.uk and frozenyogurt.uk might be taken, but frozen-yogurt.co.uk or frozen-yogurt.uk might be available.
Use an appropriate domain name extension
The domain name isn't the only consideration to take into account, it's also important to choose the best domain name extension.
A domain extension is the top-level part of the domain name (TLD), such as .com or .co.uk. A majority of sites in the UK use .co.uk or the newer .uk. The .co.uk implies an older, more established business with the .uk extension being looked at as the more up-to-date version of .co.uk, and of course, there is the me.uk extension which is more prevalent for personal websites.
Within the UK there is also .org.uk which is more suitable for non-profits or charities.
Along side these extension there are numerous others available such as .club, .bid, .biz, .net, .london, .trade and .webcam which all indicate a specific website type.
Choosing the right extension for your domain name is critical, as it may have an impact on how your website is perceived, if in the UK you go for .co.uk this would imply a more trustworthy, well-established website and business whereas .biz or .net may imply a less trustworthy and less professional business.
Make it future-proof
To move your website onto another domain in the future is possible, but it’s much better to select a domain name that will stand the test of time.
Moving to a different domain name presents SEO issues, as well as potentially damaging the brand you’ve worked hard to build up and become associated with.
You should avoid domain names with dates in. If you run an event year on year, it's much better to not select a domain name with the year, such as 2017 in it. This way, you can reuse the website each year rather than starting from scratch each time, and you’ll benefit from the strength the domain name has gained from people sharing and linking to it over the years.
If your website is for your business, you’ll need to think about where you see your business going in the future and make sure your domain name doesn’t limit your offering.
For instance, you might start out as a cafe, with a domain name to reflect this, but what happens when further down the line, you want to expand into a bistro? If you originally choose the domain name thecornercafe.co.uk it will be very difficult to get that to reflect the bistro side of your business, but if you had chosen zinga.co.uk this could reflect both businesses as it's not trade specific.
So in conclusion, choose a domain name that is memorable with the appropriate extension and that's future-proof.