In short – very, very important – it is the foundation to putting your business online and ultimately, your window to the world. If you are thinking about setting up a new business or setting up a website, one of the first (and really the most important) stages is to get your name right. What we mean by this is not to think of something off the top of your head and go with it, but to be as unique and ingenious as you possibly can be. Why, I hear you ask? Because its all down to your Domain Name first, and your business name second.
Okay, so what should I think about?
When you start a new business, it is always important to make sure the name you are thinking about choosing isn’t already registered (as a Limited company – for that you need to check Companies House name availability checker – link opens in a new tab) but just as importantly you also need to make sure that the Domain Name is available in your chosen name, predominately in BOTH .co.uk and .com versions.
For example, when we started Vaccoda, we were confident that our name would be available as the name is a play-on-words and it’s uniqueness meant that we could be quite sure of Domain Name availability, however even before we registered the company, we purchased the Domain Names first. We have seen so many business owners that go full-steam and register the company first and setup stationery and start trading all before coming to us for a website without even giving any consideration to the availability of their business name as a Domain Name.
What Domain Names should I register?
When choosing a Domain Name, check to see if both .co.uk and .com is available first and foremost. If only one version is available then this is also okay, but always better to register both versions where possible. The reason for this is because .co.uk and .com are still considered to be the most important top level Domain Names and are the most recognised ones world-wide. Even though there are literally 100’s of different Domain Names available nowadays – domains such as .shopping or .london, they are still quite a new thing and will take some time to catch on fully.
To hyphen or not to hyphen?
We get asked this question frequently, and in our opinion we tend to lean more towards not hyphenating Domain Names, we much prefer using complete words instead. This is partly down to personal preference, but also because people tend to forget about punctuation, and this can be the case with Domain Names. If anything it’s much better to consider an alternative spelling of the word you are considering using in your Domain Name, or being really inventive and coming up with something unique (but unique within reason – more on this below). Whilst many .co.uk and .com Domain Names have been taken, there are still many that are available, and you can even check out https://www.expireddomains.net/ (link opens in a new tab) and buy a Domain that has recently expired and become available.
What should I think about before registering a Domain?
This is an important one. It’s great to be inventive, however try not to be too obscure with the way you spell your domain name. People still need to remember it and whilst changing an ‘S’ to a ‘Z’ or spelling a word differently – for example, ‘Vodafone’ rather than ‘Vodaphone’ or ‘Skool’ instead of ‘School’ is acceptable, changing the word to such an extent that is becomes difficult to spell or understand isn’t.
It is acceptable to use numbers in your Domain Name, and just like our point above with changing the way a word is spelt or even substituting a ‘Z’ for an ‘S’, replacing a word with a number, such as ‘4’ instead of ‘for’ or ‘four’ is okay, but using many numbers in a domain name isn’t, so try to limit the use of numbers, and only use them where absolutely necessary and if it works well for the business name.
Sometimes a Domain Name needs to be a bit longer – this is fine and in some cases unavoidable, however 20+ character domain names aren’t really great as it does make it difficult to remember and hard to fit onto printed literature like business cards, etc. Where possible, try and shorten your Domain Name to something that is short, sharp and catchy, or ideally reconsider your business name if you haven’t yet set your business up.
Where should I register my Domain Names?
We generally register Domain Names on behalf of our clients if requested as it saves you the headache of having to do it. It makes life easier and means we can put auto-renew onto the Domain Names, so there is never any change of losing Domain Names due to not renewing when they expire, however if you would prefer to register your own Domain Names in your own account then we recommend LCN – www.lcn.com. We have used LCN for many years and have always found them to be helpful and knowledgeable, and their phone support is excellent!
Final thoughts and summary
The main point to remember is that your Domain Name(s) are just as important as your business name, and it is recommended that you check for Domain Name availability first and secure them before registering your business name. Purchasing both .co.uk and .com versions is always going to be better for you, however getting just one version if the other isn’t available is also okay, but only if you have exhausted all other name possibilities. It’s also good to be inventive with your name, so think about how you can change the spelling slightly, or even introduce a number or two – but only if it works.
Although we haven’t mentioned anything to do with Social Media and you might be wondering what relevance Social Media has to a Domain Name, checking all the main Social Media channels, such as Twitter and Facebook for your business name availability is another aspect you should consider as priority when setting up your business – after all, you don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you have registered your business name, secured your Domain Names only to find that your business name isn’t available on Social Media, so remember to check them too!