The most important domain types for small businesses in the UK are .co.uk and .com and while .co.uk is most popular, you should also snap up the .com if possible. You may also want to look at other options.
If you can only get the .co.uk with your chosen prefix it might be worth considering a different company name prefix which has the other Top Level Domains still available. Securing the .net and .org name (the next most popular registered domain name types after .co.uk and .com) are useful ways to protect your business identity because no other business can then use your brand name. But it really depends on your company and how much the internet helps your business.
Many brand conscious companies take this still further to cover themselves by registering their domains in additional versions to make sure their competitors don’t lock them out of possible future areas of trading. The new .eu domain signifies a European presence, for example, and .biz (business) is increasingly popular.
Domain names can be cheap when new and become more valuable as time goes by. In fact it can be very expensive to buy the name you want at a later date. But if you decide to secure some site names for the future remember that buying up and maintaining different domains can add up financially, so make sure they really are relevant.
Check availability and register on the Duport site. Research has shown people choose domains very quickly, but in reality it is important to take plenty of time to get them right. Ideally choose the domain at the same time as the company name. Or even before. The most obvious and desirable domains are already taken so you may need to be imaginative and find a creative and memorable alternative which will be easy for customers, clients, staff etc to remember. Remember that when you apply for a .co.uk your application will not be allowed until it has been checked against Companies House records to show you have registered your company in that specific name – thus guaranteeing you the .co.uk name. A similar system operates for public limited companies.
Ensure you are not infringing someone else’s brand name or trademark. Companies protect their businesses ferociously. If you have a similar name to another business, but are not in competition with them there probably won’t be a problem as long as you can prove there is no attempt to mislead people into believing your site is affiliated with an established site, brand or company. If you do try to ‘pass off’ your company or brand by registering a name or specifically to take business from someone else, expect to be caught out.
What goes into the domain name?
Domains should be as short as possible, simple and memorable. Domain names contain only letters, numbers and dashes – spaces and symbols are not allowed. You can use a maximum of 67 characters (including the suffix) and they can be any combination of letters and numbers adjoined by hyphens and underscores. Domain names are not case sensitive. Hyphens or underscores are not a good idea so avoid if possible. These are harder for customers to remember and are not very easy for search engines to understand. Also remember that email addresses and website addresses are often underlined in text, and your underscore will be invisible against the underline. Each type of domain registration is unique and each type of domain registration suffix is controlled by a registration authority (Known as the Nominet).
What should I look for in a domain name supplier?
Consider Duport for your domain name supplier. We are reliable, have enormous expertise and are available to talk through your concerns during our extended office hours. If you go elsewhere make sure you use another reputable domain name supplier which has years of experience, a good quality website and will address your concerns quickly and efficiently. Check the company provides facilities so you can use email forwarding, transferring your domain name elsewhere. Duport provides 24 hour access and you can review your past and present reports instantly online. Quality companies should always provide user interface so you can manually edit your domain name details at all times.
Your registration agent will register your domain name – make sure this is in either the name of your business or your own name. This ensures you are the domain name holder and gives you the authority to make subsequent changes to the registration. You will also have to give specific contact information, including administration, billing and technical details for the domain name. Initial registration is one year and, currently the maximum registration period is 10 years. You will be the holder or registrant if the domain is registered in your name, and you therefore have certain rights for the specified period of time. For example you have:
- First rights on the domains renewal – as long as done within specified times
- Right to claim sole ownership – except if challenged by recognised dispute resolution procedures or court action.
Keep all your domains with a single domain company for ease of administration. Keep all contact information up to date. If you use Duport we will of course contact you when a domain name comes up for renewal, but do make sure you are aware of dates and deadlines. Pay your renewal fees on time to ensure you do not lose your domains. Domains become more precious as time goes by.