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Should I Buy Web Hosting with my Domain Name?

24. February 2010 18:39

Frequently asked question:

I've just bought a domain name for my business and was offered a good deal on web hosting, should I buy it?

Our answer:
Before we answer this question, it would help if we understood a bit more about what web hosting actually is.

Data Centre

Web hosting is essentially a leased space where you can upload your website and make it accessible to users on the Internet.

Websites are hosted in data centres which have very fast connections to the internet, they essentially consist of many special computers called servers.  These servers can host anything from one to many hundreds of websites each.  “Web servers” as they are known can use different operating systems too, much the same way as desktop computers can run Windows Vista or Apple OSX, they can also come preinstalled with many different types of software that you can use for your website.

As you can begin to see web hosting from one company isn't necessarily comparable to web hosting from another.  There are lots of factors you need to look at to compare one service to another, and as with computer software, some packages are not compatible with different servers.

As a general rule, we ask customers to avoid purchasing web hosting because the package you purchase might not be suitable for your website.  The CMS (Content Management System) might not be compatible, the server might have too many other websites running on it which may make your website slow to load.  There can also be hidden charges such as extra bandwidth bills if your website becomes really popular or you have videos or other large files on your site.

Picture used under Creative Commons from cbowns


Category: Domain Names

Using WHOIS Domain Search

24. December 2009 15:16

WHOIS is an essential domain name researching tool.  It will help you determine the availability of a domain name.
If a domain name is already taken, it's often used to find out the owner or registrant's details or find out when the registration expires.

Eat at URL's diner

You can discover who owns a website by performing a WHOIS lookup on the domain, which can be useful if you want to enquire about the possible sale of a domain name that’s not currently available.

On many occasions domain names are purchased and go unused and therefore if you find a domain that is registered but not currently being used, you maybe able to negotiate a price with the WHOIS registrant.

Along with the registrants name and contact details a WHOIS search will usually return:

  • The domain registration date and expiry date
  • The current status of the domain
  • The domain’s name servers

There are a number of websites on the internet that let you query the WHOIS system.  To find information on a .UK domain name you can use the Nominet WHOIS service below.

The registrant listed on the WHOIS database is normally considered to be the webmaster for that domain, responsible for administering the domain/website and is not necessarily the owner.

Picture used under Creative Commons from Dawn Endico


Category: Domain Names

Domain Name Dilemma

27. October 2009 18:43

There’s an interesting piece of advice in the November 2009 issue of .NET magazine concerning choosing unique domain names.

A reader wrote in to the Expert Advice column explaining that he had bought a .co.uk domain and the equivalent .tv and .mobi variants for a website he was about to set-up.  However after purchasing the domains the reader stumbled across the .net version of the domain which was already an existing website owned by someone else and providing very similar content to what the reader had planned for his site.

The reader wanted to know if it was best to continue developing his site or think of another domain name that was unique.

The advice given by .NET magazine’s legal expert Struan Robertson was:

“I’d urge you to pick a different name.  That’s partly because a complaint from the established site is foreseeable.”

Struan mentions that keeping the name would cause “confusion in the marketplace, by “harming their goodwill”

“It’s generally in you’re best interests to avoid this type of battle”

Struan goes on to advise:

“Pick a new name that lets you establish your own brand identity from the start.”  “Even if you were to win [a dispute] in the end, such a dispute would cost you far, far more than a few domain names.”

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Category: Domain Names | Legalities

Domain Ownership

24. July 2009 18:49

Your domain name is a valuable asset to your business, without it your website and email would stop working.  Yet so many businesses fail to insure that the company's domain names are registered in the company's name.

This can happen for a number of reasons, either way when the relationship between the company and the person who registered the domain (domain registrar) comes to an end, the business will find out sooner or later that they don't control and therefore can't manage their company's domain name.

The company may find that the domain registrar is no longer contactable, may have let the domain name expire or simply retain ownership and make things difficult for the company.  If the business cannot negotiate for the domain name to be transferred to the company the last resort is to resolve the dispute through a procedure known as a Uniform Dispute Resolution Procedure (UDRP).

A company does not have an automatic right to the domain name and will need to present their case in order to succeed.  The business will need to either show that the domain was originally registered in bad faith, the registrar did not have a legitimate interest in it or the domain name is a registered trademark of the business.  A UDRP can be a time-consuming and costly process and success is not guaranteed.

It is therefore imperative that a business actively manage their domain names.

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Category: Domain Names | Legalities

How to Choose a Domain Name

19. July 2009 18:29

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.


Category: Domain Names