Domain Names: what they are and why they are important
What is a Domain Name?
If your website is an online home for your business, your domain name is essentially your website’s home address. To stretch my metaphor, the internet is like the earth; vast, diverse and interconnected. To find a single specific website is like trying to find a specific property somewhere in the world; it would be impossible without an address. This is why creating the best domain name improves the chances of as much relevant traffic as possible being directed to your website.
Where can I buy a Domain Name?
Countless online sites sell domain names which can vary significantly in price. Provided there is no existing domain name that clashes with your choice, you can use any combination of letters and numbers. When you are buying a domain name an important choice is the top-level domain, meaning the .com, .co.uk, etc. (See the following subsection for more information). With all of this in mind, let us now look at two popular sites which specialise in selling domains and compare them.
123-reg.co.uk is most well known for being the first company to offer incredibly cheap first-year subscriptions, with “.co.uk” only costing £0.99 for the first year, with it rising to £14.39 the following year. There is however significant competition from the more well known uk.godaddy.com; offering “.co.uk” domain names for just £0.01 for the first year, with them rising to £11.99 for the compulsory second year. 123-reg.co.uk offers “.com” for £1.99 for the first year with it rising to £19.19 after this first year. This compares poorly with the uk.godaddy.com offer at £0.99 for the first year, with it rising to just over £17.00 for the second year. Unsure whether a “.co.uk”, a “.com” or one of the many other options is right for your website? Worry not, this will be covered very soon.
There are multiple comparison sites such as www.hostfind.co.uk or www.top10bestwebsitehosting.co.uk which can provide a wider and deeper comparison domain names retailers. However, due to the nature of the market, the differences are marginal. Ultimately, factors such as where the website is hosted and the actual name of the website are often more important than where the domain name was bought from.
.com vs .co.uk (vs .digital, .shop, .club etc.)
Depending on what sort of website you run, it should affect your choice of the domain name. If most of your visitors are based in the UK, it makes sense to use a “.co.uk”. Maybe you are aiming for a more international audience, a more neutral “.com” would probably be a wise move. If your website is focused on downloads, “.digital” may be a good choice. Finally, if you are promoting some sort of designing services, “.design” makes sense. Gone are the days where all sites end in “.com” and the marketplace is filled with many more options. Ultimately, a common-sense approach and an examination of your competitors’ domain names should be enough to guide you through this decision.
Naked Domain vs www.
A naked domain name lacks the “www.” which many websites begin with. The allowing of sub-domains is the major difference between a naked domain name and a “www.” domain name. Whichever you decide to use, you must pick one and stick to it. Having duplicate websites using different options or flipping between one and another damages your SEO and should be avoided. The best way to address this issue is to pick one and stick with it. For instance, let’s say a naked domain name is used, you should ideally set up an HTTP 301 redirect on the unused domain name with the “www.”. This will then redirect any visitors to your official site, creating a smooth visitor experience and will also ensure your SEO is not negatively affected.
Picking a domain name is an important part of starting any new website. Hopefully, this blog has given you the information to make a more informed decision. The top-level part of your domain name can clearly signal what your website is about. Shop around to find the best deal for you and have a look at what your competitors are using.