When you’re looking for a new domain name (website address or URL) it’s always a good idea to put in some serious thought. After all, this is the address you’ll be marketing to your customers and prospects.

The good thing about registering a domain is that the research is really easy. By visiting any domain name registrar’s website you can check domain name availability and also perform “who is” look-ups to see who might already own the domain name you like.

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when shopping:

A domain name is a very worthwhile investment. For a small fee you can purchase a domain name for whatever purpose you like. It’s a good idea to purchase from a well-established registrar that has invested in management tools so can easily manoeuvre your website between servers and hosts.

So many domain names have been snapped up in the last decade that the pickings are slim. In fact, some businesses sell domain names for a higher cost as their sole business. When selecting a domain name keep these principles in mind:

  • Short is always better: It can’t always be achieved, but try to keep a balance between a meaningful domain name and the number of characters. Sometimes it’s preferable to use acronyms (for example, www.mcw.com instead of www.MyCompanyWebsite.com). However, this is largely based on your industry and how many characters you use in the acronym.
  • Avoid hyphens: Again, it’s not always possible, but if it is, try to get a domain name that does not have hyphens. If you have to select one with hyphens, avoid going with more than one, at maximum, 2.
  • Difficult to spell or pronounce domain names are a hazard to their owners. If you own a business that is difficult to spell (and it’s too late to change) consider purchasing a second or third domain name that actually includes the incorrect spelling and then re-direct the visitor to your true website.

COM, .ORG, .NET or .CO.UK,?
It is safe to say that whenever possible, look at purchasing a .COM. On an international scale, .com is obviously much more recognised than any other (.COM representing commercial entities). Also, keep in mind that most people will simply type in .COM first by force of habit. A .com extension is referred to as a Top Level Domain (or TLD, along with .org and .net).

  • .NET is an abbreviation for network administration and has generally been the next option when the .COM is not available.
  • .ORG is an abbreviation for non-profit organisations and institutions. It doesn’t make sense to purchase a .ORG unless you fall into this category

So what about .CO.UK? As a general rule, consider your target audience. If it’s in the UK, then a .CO.UK will do. Otherwise, a .com is safer every time. But if you can get both a .COM and a .CO.UK then do so.