Choosing the perfect domain name for your website can feel like a daunting task. It generally involves a lot of searching, checking, and double-checking.
Luckily, UK2.NET can help you in your quest for the perfect web address. Our helpful domain search tool quickly helps you find the domain you are looking for according to availability and cost.
As much as we can help you search for your next domain, we can’t choose which domain is right for your project. Selecting the exact wording and extension may take a little more thought. We’ve created this guide to offer some friendly advice when facing domain selection. We will cover important topics like whether to choose a .uk or .co.uk domain, as well as how to avoid letting your domain name expire.
We also offer practical advice and recommendations on securing your preferred domain name, regardless of any obstacles that may arise. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a TLD, or top-level domain is.
What are top-level domains?
When setting out to buy a domain, it is easy to get confused about the various web address endings, also called top-level domains (TLDs). When the internet began, there were limited options for TLDs. The World Wide Web was dominated by .com, .org, .gov, and other generic web address endings.
Today, there are over a thousand TLDs to choose from, including web address endings like .club or .guru. However, many Brits stick to the .co.uk and .uk TLDs. But how do you choose whether to register a .uk or a .co,.uk domain? The answer might very well be both.
The history and rise of the .uk TLD
If you have your eye on a .uk domain name, there are a few aspects of this unique domain extension that you should take note of.
When ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) first approved the .uk TLD, there were a few extenuating circumstances that led to precautions that had to be made before registering a .uk domain. ICANN wanted to be sure that those who had previously registered .co.uk domain names weren’t fighting off domain squatters trying to make a quid or two.
These .co.uk domains had a Grandfather clause that allowed them first dibs on the .uk version of their domains. The requirements stated that the .co.uk domain must have been registered before 28 October 2013. However, the Grandfather clause ended in 2019 and .uk domains were then opened up to the general public.
Many domain purchasers prefer the .uk domain because the domain is shorter and has higher availability. The international appeal of the .uk TLD conforms with the rest of the world’s two-letter geographic TLDs. However, there are many who prefer the traditional .co.uk domain names over the trendier British version.
As the internet bloomed, .com somehow came to be the US domain of choice while Brits clung on to the .co.uk. The domain extension grew in popularity and became associated with businesses and individuals who met certain criteria.
This, of course, doesn’t mean that the .uk TLD doesn’t appeal to the same users. In fact, according to experts, 81% of domain registrants would prefer to register a .uk domain.
The ultimate UK-based domain strategy
If you are stumped as to which TLD you should choose, keep in mind that best business practice is to register both the .co.uk and the .uk domains. By owning the rights to both versions of your domain, you can prevent others from squatting on a domain associated with your brand.
Websites are easily spoofed and nefarious individuals will often recreate your website on a similar domain in an attempt to scam your website traffic. Depending on availability and cost, you may want to consider tossing both domains into your shopping cart. Odds are that you will thank yourself later.
The internet exists in a constant state of flux. New websites are being launched all the time while existing ones disappear when their period of ownership expires or their owners resell their addresses. Yet, as the total number of websites in existence continues to grow, acquiring a new domain name can become quite a challenge.
Dwindling domain name availability
Statistics demonstrate the scale of this problem. In January 2018, there were over 2.1 million domains with .uk TLDs in use, including 11,500 new sites registered. From a global perspective, .uk isn’t even a particularly common TLD, yet the registration numbers show the massive quantity of domains registered each month.
Verisign reported that in the same timeframe a total of 131.9 million .com sites were registered, along with 14.5 million .net addresses. Note that January 2018 was not a particularly impressive month, just a month with accessible stats.
We can assume that January 2020 will see even more domain registrations, which is why it is so important to thoroughly check your domain prior to registering.
The importance of a domain check
Performing a domain check ensures that your preferred domain name hasn’t already been acquired. It runs specific character strings through a database to determine which TLDs are presently in use.
For example, the domain name pizzatheaction has been registered with .com, .co.uk and .net TLDs. These addresses can’t be used by anyone else until their present owners relinquish ownership by reselling or allowing their ownership to expire.
However, that’s not the end of the story. As the body responsible for overseeing the domain name market, non-profit organisation Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has been steadily releasing new TLDs since 2001. An entrepreneurial chef with a wood-fired oven could register pizzatheaction.site, .store and many other TLDs.
Each of these uniform resource locators (or URLs) is distinct from the others, enjoying its own domain authority in search engine results. Of the three registered pizzatheaction TLDs listed in the previous paragraph, two are owned by unrelated British businesses, while the third isn’t presently being used.
A domain check interrogates ownership databases to reveal whether URLs are in use or still available. UK2.NET’s website has a search bar on its homepage which quickly reveals whether a preferred domain name is reserved or not.
We cross-check TLDs from .actor to .webcam, listing the selling price beside each available domain. Some cost just 99p for a whole year.
Buying and choosing domain names for businesses
There’s a great deal to consider when establishing a new business venture, and the availability of relevant domain names should be on any entrepreneur or company director’s priorities list. Websites act as digital shop windows, sometimes providing a company’s only visible presence to the outside world. Maximising their profile is essential to any business’s long-term viability.
From social media accounts to email addresses, customers expect to see a web address corresponding to the company’s name. If the domain relates to an unrelated company, a significant percentage of web traffic could mistakenly end up on the wrong website.
Knowing how to buy a domain name begins with determining whether your preferred domain name is available. There are plenty of websites that will perform a comprehensive search of registered web domains, though few will deliver results as quickly as UK2.NET.
Don’t forget a customised email address to match your domain!
If your chosen address and TLD are available, the process of buying a domain name is relatively straightforward – through UK2.NET, at least! Once you’ve added a domain (or domains) to your shopping cart, we will invite you to add an email address that matches your domain. That’s a very sensible step for the reasons below.
Of course, you can add up to a hundred unique email mailboxes if required – one for each staff member, or one for each service your business provides.
In truth, a generic “hello” or “info” address is often fine when a business is first launched. You can add additional email accounts as required. Accessible through a browser-based webmail service, and compatible with email packages like Microsoft Outlook, email remains an essential communications tool even in the age of social media and chatbots.
Another decision involves the level of email provision you’re likely to need. If you send and receive large files, UK2.NET’s Professional package will be optimal with its 10GB mailbox and 25MB attachment capabilities. A Personal account should suffice for standard enquiries and responses, though Professional services are similarly affordable.
UK2.NET also offers additional facilities like a website building platform. That’s great if you’re not planning on employing a professional development company or using a template tool like WordPress. WordPress powers a quarter of the world’s websites. We recommend it as a great way to create dynamic sites without the need for any programming skills or technical expertise.
Domain name expiration
There’s a common assumption that buying a domain name grants lifetime ownership. In truth, the word ‘buy’ is used rather confusingly throughout the domain industry.
You can lease domain names for a period of one to ten years and can be surrendered at the end of each agreed time period. Nobody can take a domain off you if you want to keep it, but ownership will eventually expire if it’s not periodically renewed. This gives other people an opportunity to buy expired domains, rather than leaving them languishing in cyberspace where they’re no use to anyone.
As we explained earlier in this article, allowing a domain name to expire is inadvisable if you want to maintain your online presence. However, websites may cease to be of value to their owners for a number of reasons.
At UK2.NET, we’re keen to take the stress out of managing your web domains. Auto-renewal is selected by default to ensure continuity of service, but it can be turned off by logging into your account and editing the Renewal settings in the Account section of this portal.
We’ll also keep relevant registry agencies (such as Nominet for .uk web domains) informed about what’s happening. This prevents their automated system of notifications and suspensions kicking in, which would typically involve five stages.
5 stages of domain notifications prior to expiry
#1. A notification prior to the domain’s expiry date – the anniversary of its registration or last renewal.
#2. A 30-day grace period, during which time the site remains publicly visible. After 23 days, a warning will be sent out about impending suspension.
#3. Suspension of web access or email through the domain. The registrar will take the website offline, however, ownership is unaffected for another 30 days.
#4. After 60 days, the domain is scheduled for cancellation. You will be sent a final reminder 83 days after the expiry date.
#5. Once 90 days have elapsed from the expiry date, the domain name is released back into the open market. Its original owner can re-purchase it, but they will be competing against anyone looking to buy expired domains or launch a new site.
If your domain is no longer needed, you can release it back onto the market. You’ll save money by not renewing it, there will be less administration involved, and you’ll let another company take advantage of an address you no longer need.
You are now up-to-date with all things domain related. Your next task is to search out the perfect domain name. While you are at it, don’t forget to include web hosting for your new website. Use the promo below to save 10% and get a free domain from UK2.NET!