Choosing your domain name is a really important decision, you want to make sure you’ve got the perfect address for your business.
This guide will help you decide how to choose the right domain name, whether you should choose .co.uk or .com, and what alternatives are available to you if you can’t secure the domain you’d really like.
What is a domain?
A domain is like an address on the internet. The real address is a complex number, but the domain names we use are recognisable words that connect with that number.
Special electronic lists match up your domain name with a real location on a server that is permanently connected to the internet. We create settings within those lists to send and receive your email and to enable people to find your website.
How can I use a domain?
You can use a domain for your website address and your email address. Our domain, for example, is duport.co.uk. Based on that domain, we have a website at www.duport.co.uk and email addresses such as email@example.com.
What is the best domain suffix for a new business?
The most commonly known domain suffixes are .com, .co.uk and .uk. For easy recognition and branding, you would normally want to use one of these.
For UK businesses, we would generally recommend using .co.uk or .uk whereas if you are intending to trade overseas and don’t want to be considered as primarily a UK company we would suggest that you pick a .com.
I can’t get the .co.uk or .uk domain to match my company name – what can I do?
If you can’t get a .co.uk or .com domain that matches your business name, there are several alternatives you can look at.
Consider a descriptive domain name
Your domain name doesn’t need to be based on your business name, sometimes it can be a good idea to choose a descriptive name that explains what you do.
This is especially true if your business has competitors with similar names to yours, or if your trading name doesn’t describe your business.
Add your location
Another good way to differentiate your domain and make it unique, is by adding your location or area of business.
That’s a particularly helpful strategy if you only work locally, as it shows customers immediately that you operate in this specific area. Although it has the opposite effect if you work nationally, as people may assume you are strictly a local business.
One thing to be careful of though, if you change your base of operations, your domain won’t be suitable anymore, so if you have plans to move any time in the future, this might not be the best option!
There is a specially reserved domain type for registered companies and, if you have a limited company (Ltd) you can be quite sure that the domain name yourcompany.ltd.uk is available.
This domain type was specifically created to put right the damage caused by insufficient control in the early days of domain registrations.
If you register a .ltd.uk domain it must be made in the name of your company and the application will not be allowed until it has been checked against Companies House records. When you see a domain ending in .ltd.uk you can be sure that it is a legally registered company.
However, ltd.uk can be a bit cumbersome for people to remember – and it’s easy to misspell – so we wouldn’t advise it as a first choice. And of course if you’re self employed, this won’t be available to you at all.
What is the best domain suffix for a non-profit organisation?
We would recommend that you try to register a .org (or a .org.uk). This domain type suggests that you are not a commercial organisation, and it’s the most popular choice for charities, non-profits and community organisations.
Can I register more than one suffix with my domain name?
Yes you can. For companies with large ambitions, you might want to register at least .com and .co.uk. This will protect you from having another site trading off your success, and if the domain is available to register today, it may be cheaper in the long run then having to buy it back off a dealer.
Can I register variations on my domain name?
If you intend to use the internet as a primary means of trading you may do well to register variations on your domain and have them forward traffic to your main domain.
You may choose to register something like an obvious misspelling – for example jonsmith.co.uk may find it useful to register johnsmith.co.uk so that people who type the wrong name still come to the right website.
Does getting a domain mean I have emails and a website?
Your domain name is just the first part of getting emails and a website. You’ll also need to get hosting if you want to have emails at your domain, or build yourself a website.
Is my domain registration unique?
Yes. All domains are controlled by a registration authority, for example, all domains ending in .uk are controlled by Nominet, the UK central registration authority. These registration authorities ensure every domain name is unique.
Can domain names be similar to each other?
Yes. The same word might be used as a domain name in France (with a .fr suffix) and in the UK (with a .co.uk suffix). And the same word may be registered as a .com or a .biz domain.
Many brand-conscious companies cover themselves by registering their domains in several versions to make sure their competitors don’t lock them out of possible future areas of trading.
Can I register any name I want, if it is available?
No. There are restrictions on the characters that may be used in a domain name. More particularly, if you register a domain name that can be proved to breach a registered trademark, you could be legally compelled to give it up.
Do I need an SSL certificate?
We highly recommend getting an SSL certificate for your domain if you plan to have a website. Websites without SSL certificates are being marked as “Not Secure” by web browsers, and in some cases, being marked as “Dangerous” to potential visitors.
Can I use my own SSL certificate?
If you host with Duport, you will need to purchase your SSL certificate through us as well. Unfortunately we are currently unable to facilitate using third party SSL certificates.
What symbols can I use in my domain name?
You may use any combination of letters and numbers adjoined by hyphens in your domain name. You can use a maximum of 63 characters (including the suffix), though you should consider how easy it will be for your customers to remember.
Can I get in trouble for intellectual property or copyright infringement?
Yes, you can, but these matters are usually solved quickly as long as you can prove that there is no attempt to mislead people into believing your site is affiliated with an established site, brand or company.
If you happen to have a similar name to another business, but are not in competition with them, there is little likelihood of problems. If you try to “pass off” your company or brand by registering a name specifically to take business from someone else, you can expect to be caught out.
Find your perfect .co.uk or .com domain name
Our quick and easy domain name checker is the best way to see if your perfect domain name is available – and what options are available if it’s not!