Before you can launch a website on the World Wide Web, you need a domain name so that visitors can locate your website by typing in your web address, e.g. www.odysseyagency.com
Decide on a Name
In an ideal world you will be able to purchase the perfect domain name for your business, such as www.businessname.com or www.productname.com , but in reality a lot of the most popular domain names will have been taken already, hopefully not by your competitors!
If you are unlucky and your perfect domain has already been taken and is not up for sale, you will have to find the next best domain. Fortunately many websites that sell domain names have a feature to help you choose variations of a name that aren't already registered.
Don't forget that as well as .com and .co.uk, there are other so called top level domain (TLD) extensions such as .net, .org, .info, .biz, etc so it might be worth considering one of those.
Protect Your Brand
Domain names can be purchased fairly cheaply and lots of businesses typically own more than one domain as this can help protect their brand on the internet. For example you may choose to purchase hyphenated versions of your domain name e.g www.odyssey-agency.com and country-specific domain names if your are trading in a specific country e.g. www.odysseyagency.co.uk
Having several domain names can also be an advantage if visitors are typing in your domain name from memory and add a hyphen or type the wrong domain extension (.com rather than .co.uk) because they will still end up at your website. You may even consider buying domain names that are common misspellings of your website.
Country-specific domain names will also normally get preferential search rankings from localised search engines such as Google UK.
Choosing Your Domain Name
Choose your domain name wisely as it can be costly and time-consuming to change it later on. Here are a few points to consider when choosing the domain name for your business:
- Think about the goals of your business, will you still be selling the same product in 5 years? An example would be Carphone Warehouse, does anyone still own a car phone? Luckily this doesn't seem to have affected their business.
- If possible try to include keywords in your domain that relate to your business. A good example of this is B&Q's domain name www.diy.com.
- Try to keep the domain name short and easy to remember.
- Try to buy a domain that represents your brand.
- Does the domain name you have in mind appeal to your clients/customers?
- Purchase domains names of your trademarked products, even if these wont be your main business URL.
- Does the name you want have a different meaning in a different country or culture? This is especially important if your business is international.
- Was the domain name previously registered? If so was it owned by a spammer and banned from search engines?
- Is the domain name you have in mind available as a .com and .co.uk and a .net etc?
- Avoid buying domain names with too many hyphens as these can look spammy* and be difficult to communicate to others verbally.
Purchase Your Domains
I would recommend that if you register any domain names you like sooner rather than later, as there is a good chance that if you leave it too long they will no longer be available. I would also advise that you do not type in domains into your web browser just to see if they are taken and instead use a registration tool on one of the many domain name registration sites.
* Websites with domain names consisting of lots of keywords separated with hyphens are considered spammy because this was a technique abused by some search engine optimisers (SEOs) to try and help their sites rank better.