A ‘domain name’ or ‘URL’ is like this: www.greenfuse.co.uk
For a web site you need to pay (annually) to register the ‘domain name’, as well as pay (annually) to have it ‘hosted’ (where it lives).
Checking what is available
There are many web sites that allow you to see if a domain name has been taken. Two good examples are:
http://www.domaintools.com/ will tell you who owns a particular domain name
Common domain extensions
While domain extensions were designed for specific organisations, there are no rules or regulations and you can use any of them. However, it is generally better to follow the guidelines.
The prices shown below are approximate cost per year (as of 2013) to own the domain name.
‘Hosting’ the web site itself is a separate cost.
.co.uk £3 businesses in UK
.org.uk £4 non-commercial organisations
.me.uk £4 personal use
.com £5 – £10 general
.biz £3 businesses
.info £6 primary purpose is to provide a helpful resource
.org £10 non-commercial organisations
.net £10 for Internet service providers
.me £10 personal use
For a fuller list and explanations see this site http://www.ukreg.com/register-domains/available-extensions/
Things you should know
- You will be able to have email addresses that end in your domain name (e.g. email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org).
Note: you can set up ‘automatic forwarding’ for any of these to your existing email address.
- Don’t worry unduly about having a domain name that will appear in (Google) searches (e.g. www.FuneralCelebrantKent.co.uk). Some people advise doing this and some say it has little effect. If it works then do it. But not at the cost of too many other criteria (see below). Also see our other document about improving search ranking.
- It is possible to buy a number of different extensions (e.g. .co.uk, .com and .co) and have them all ‘point’ or redirect to a single web site. Generally, it’s the bigger companies that do this to protect their brand name.
Choosing a domain name
Consider how people will find your web site:
- By typing in your web site address from your card or you spelling it out over the phone?
- By doing a Google search?
- By linking to it from another web site?
Most of the suggestions below for choosing a domain name relate only to number 1.
- Brainstorm (ideally with a couple of friends) a few terms or phrases that best describe the domain you’re seeking. Consider who you are, what you do, what you offer, your values etc.
Once you have this list, you can start to pair them, add prefixes & suffixes, etc to create good domain ideas.
- Short and memorable can be great. However, longer ones are more likely to be available. Be poetic, be descriptive, think of a short phrase, attract some attention.
- Avoid anything hard to hear or spell over the phone.
- Dash or underlines can be harder to remember, explain and spell.
- Careful with numbers – i.e. you’ll always have to explain whether its 1 or one
- Domain names are NOT case-sensitive. So www.greenfuse.co.uk is the same as www.GreenFuse.co.uk
- Avoid texting style shortcuts e.g. ‘u’ for ‘you’ etc – www.toysrus.co.uk only works because people know the name already.
- If you have a company name consider using that.
- Consider using your initials.
- Think carefully before taking a domain (e.g. www.say-bye.co.uk) if similar domains (e.g. www.say-bye.com or www.saybye.co.uk) are also in the funeral business. You’ll lose business to them (although, of course, this works both ways!).
And finally … all rules are meant to be broken … it’s just a matter of knowing what they are, when to break them and how to break them.
More tips here
(be aware that some tips are US biased and/or big business biased)