Choosing a Domain Name

Every business should have its own domain name. Here we tell you what they are, how you can benefit from having one and how to get one.

A domain name is the beginning part of a web address (eg. the '' in web address or the last part of an email address after the '@' (eg. the '' in the email address Any business that wants to create a professional image should register its own domain name, even if you don't have your own website, as you can use a domain name for your email address. Today it is simply considered unprofessional to use business cards with email addresses such as '' or '', or to set up a web page with an address such as ''.

It is very cheap to register a domain name (to do so will probably cost you less than your lunch) and doesn't have to be complicated. Also, with more and more people registering domain names, the sooner you register yours, the more likely you are to get one that suits your business. Don't wait until you get a website to register a domain name - it is worth registering for one just for email use, or for use sometime in the future. A lot of people are now even registering domain names for their own personal or family use, because they are so cheap and a lot easier for friends and family to remember.

Domain Name Search

Don't expect to find available the first name that you think of - it can take a long time and a lot of creativity to find a name that is both suitable and available for your business. Try to get a list of a few possibilities and then see which names your friends or customers like best.

Be careful not to register a domain name that is a trademark of another company, or you may find yourself involved in a legal dispute at a later date in a fight over the name.

Click here to check domain name availability

Choosing a Trading Name

If you are just starting up in business and choosing your trading name, first give careful consideration to a domain name. A lot of people think of a great trading name, register the name as a limited company and print out all their literature and then think of registering the name as a domain name, only to be disappointed to find that the name that they wanted has already been taken by someone else. More and more, the availability and suitability of domain names are actually becoming a deciding factor in choosing business trading names.

TLDs - Top-Level Domains

The first part of a domain name (in our instance, the 'jpdnet') is known as the second-level domain. The last part of the domain name (in our instance, the '') is known as the top-level domain, or TLD for short.

There are central registries for all domain names to ensure that each domain name is only owned once and to state where on the internet (which IP address or internet server) that name should point to. The registry for all the TLDs '.com', '.net', '.biz', '.org' and '.info' is currently held by 'NSI' (Network Solutions Inc)in America. Many countries also have their own top level domain which will be held in a separate country-specific registry. The registry for '.uk' names (such as '', '' and '') is held by NOMINET. If you want to find out who holds the registry for your country code (the country code Top-Level Domain - 'ccTLD'), you can check here.

TLD Meanings

Originally, different TLDs were set up for different purposes. There are actually over 600 recognised domain extensions. Some of the most popular are:

.com - Recommended for commercial entities. Anyone can register a .com domain.

.org - Originally designed for miscellaneous organisations, including non-profit groups. However today, anyone can register a .org domain.

.net - Originally recommended for companies involved in Internet infrastructure. However today, anyone can register a .net domain.

.biz - Recommended for a business related site.

.info - Recommended for an information providing site.

.edu - For colleges and universities.

.gov - For government agencies.

.mil - For the military.

There are also many country specific endings, such as .uk, .au, .fr, .ru, .de (Germany) and .ch (Switzerland).

Domain Name Rules

Domain names can be up to 63 characters long, excluding the characters used to identify the TLD such as. com. They can be made up of letters or numbers and they are not case sensitive. The dash symbol (-) is permitted, but not at the beginning or end of your domain name. Spaces and special characters are not permitted.

Domain Name Registrars

Domain names can be purchased via a domain name registrar or any reseller that has partnered with a domain name registrar. A company must obtain ICANN accreditation to act as a domain name registrar. ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) was founded in 1998 and is a non-profit board of volunteers that is responsible for the management of the Domain Name System (DNS) and the allocation of IP addresses (the numbers that uniquely identify the servers on the internet).

Network Solutions is a domain name registrar, as well as holding the the central domain name registry, but just because they hold the registry, don't think that they are the cheapest registrar - there are many registrars and domain name resellers that offer better value for money than Network Solutions.

Choosing a Domain Name

If possible, choose a name that is quite short, easy to spell and easy to remember.

First choice should be a '.com' name, as they do tend to get priority in search engines and will always be the first ending that a user will try if they are unsure. However, it can be difficult to find a good .com name that hasn't already been registered and then you may prefer to opt for an ending such as .info, .biz, .net or a country code ending.

If you can't find the name that you want, you can try adding a suffix or a prefix. Some common suffixes are: e, e-, the, my, online, cyber, web, virtual. Some common prefixes are: site, shop, search, guide, directory. You can also try plural versions of words, adding an adjective and using hyphens or numbers within the name.

Give consideration to the fact that a 'keyword' included in your domain name may give your website a higher listing for that word in a search engine. It is therefore often a good idea to include in your domain name one or two of the main keywords that you would like people to use to find your webpage in a search engine. Also, many internet directories list sites in alphabetical order, so choosing a name starting with a number or a letter from the beginning of the alphabet may also help you.

Found a Domain Name - What Next

Once you have found a domain name (or names - you can register as many domain names as you like), you need to register the domain through either an accredited domain name registrar, or through a domain name reseller that has partnered with an accredited domain name registrar. You will need to decide how long you want to register the name for - the default registry period is often 2 years, but you can register a name for up to 10 years should you choose. At the end of the registration period, your domain name registrar should contact you to check whether or not you wish to renew the registration for a further period, before it is again released back to the public for further registration.

There will be a fee to pay at the time of registration, which can vary from registrar to registrar and cost varying amounts depending on which TLD you have chosen. .com names are generally considered more valuable than .net names, for example. You should have a good look around the internet to get a feel of current market prices to register a domain name, but don't get too concerned with whether a company offers prices that are a couple of pounds more or less expensive - what is more important is that you get good service from the registration company and the support that you require to easily manage your domain name(s). Also, don't be too taken in with special offers - often a name may be very cheap one year but much more expensive to register in a subsequent year - or you might be given a very cheap .info name, but have to pay much more for a .com name that you also require. Many companies will provide you with a very cheap name in the hope that they will be able to sell you their web hosting in addition - but you should consider web hosting as a separate purchase to ensure that you get good value for money.

When registering a domain name, you should look for a registrar that can provide you with an internet control panel to administer your domain name. You should be able to logon to your control panel and set which internet servers your domain name points to (this is done by setting the 'Domain Name Servers', which you can find out from your internet hosting company or email service provider) - this will enable you to host your website with a different company should you require. In addition, you may also be provided with 'URL Forwarding' functionality, whereby you can redirect the domain name to point to a different address on the internet and also 'Email Forwarding' functionality, whereby emails sent to that domain name can be forwarded to any other email address (such as your Google or Yahoo email account, so that you only have to log in to one place to pick up all your emails that have been sent to several different addresses).

Before registering, make sure that you can easily transfer your domain name to another registrar if you should decide to in the future, say if you become dissatisfied with their service or increasing prices. Most importantly, make sure that you can easily contact your registrar for extra support as and when you need.

Domain Name Registration

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