A well-chosen domain name can be very beneficial to a business or individual. It’s capable of conveying a website’s purpose, from self-titled company ecommerce sites to enthusiast or blogger platforms covering specific topics or markets. Domain names convey additional information, too: the country of origin, the level of site security on offer, and even terms which will appeal to search engines as they calculate the homepage’s SEO ranking.
However, while the process of registering a new web domain has been streamlined by companies like UK2.NET, actually choosing a domain name remains a challenge. From restricting a brand’s ability to grow, through to the dangers of a double entendre, it’s easy to get things wrong.
This is our five-step guide to choosing a domain name which will be suitable long-term, and which won’t come with an unintended price attached…
1. Avoid picking an obscure TLD.
Although search engines don’t discriminate against less popular generic top-level domains (gTLDs), they do mark down sites whose gTLDs are commonly associated with low-quality domains. Examples of this include .gq and .club. At UK2.NET, we only sell respectable gTLDs – if it’s not on our directory of available domains, there’s likely to be a good reason for its absence.
2. Don’t buy a proposed domain without asking friends to review it.
There’s a legendary story about Susan Boyle’s record company registering a domain name for a new album launch party. The chosen URL was www.susanalbumparty.com. Two very different messages are spelled out, depending on how you read the first few letters. Always get a second opinion when choosing a domain name.
3. Don’t try to mimic competitors.
It might seem like a clever approach to register an ecommerce company called Azamon or Amazoon, but plagiarism is viewed dimly by search engines. Traffic reaching your site will probably depart as soon as the deception is discovered, and high bounce rates from a landing page also damage a website’s SEO performance by suggesting the content is low-quality or irrelevant.
4. Don’t choose a foreign country code TLD.
Nation-specific ccTLDs are designed to identify a particular site’s country of origin. Search engines elevate domestic domains in their results while downgrading foreign ones as less pertinent. For this reason, it’s inadvisable to try and spell a word or phrase out with a ccTLD as the final letters, like www.gotitma.de. If your business is multinational, use a .com domain.
5. Avoid pigeonholing a brand or business.
Companies often evolve far beyond their original remits, as new opportunities open up or as they become specialists in particular niches. Choosing a domain name which is overly specific could cause problems, such as a removals company registering studenthousemoves.com, only to find that most of their business ends up coming from families and downsizers.
Finally, it’s worth noting that a five-year moratorium on the .uk domain suffix will end in late June 2019. Until now, companies with a co.uk web address have had exclusive rights to acquire the matching .uk domain as well. After June 25th, .uk addresses go onto the open market. A competitor could buy it for the purposes of promoting their rival products or besmirching your own site, as could a disgruntled customer or a vengeful former partner.
Having two separate websites is both confusing and counterproductive in terms of SEO. As a result, we’d recommend reserving the .uk counterpart to any co.uk website. Having secured it, install a permanent redirect on the .uk site’s homepage so any visitors are swiftly redirected to the correct website…