A domain name is an important part of your website. For a lot of businesses, it’s taken over from the phone number as the best way to publicise your business. But that importance also means that it’s increasingly difficult to find a domain name that suits your business.
If you’re an existing business, you may not have too much choice. Your existing customers will expect you to have your company name as part of the domain name – that’s what they will type in to Google and maybe even directly into their web browser.
But if your business name is relatively generic – maybe a common first and last name – then there’s a good chance that your name will already be taken.
If that’s the case then you may need to add your town or district to find an available domain name.
The problem with doing that is that there is potential confusion on the part of your customers and you’ll have to remind anyone who is sending you an email that they need to use the full name otherwise it won’t get through to you.
Some people think that adding hyphens between the words in your business name is one solution to the problem of finding an available domain name.
That can work but again it makes it difficult when people have to remember your domain name or when you are explaining it to them face to face or over the telephone.
Another option is to use one of the less common domain extensions – biz, net, etc – but again that can cause confusion.
Country specific domain extensions are a worthwhile option if your website traffic is likely to mainly be within your own country. For instance, in the UK, people will tend to assume that you have a co.uk name for your website.
For a brand new business, it’s worth researching domain names before coming up with the final name of the business.
This can be a long task – it often seems that all the “best” names are already taken, even if all that is on the domain is a placeholder that is offering the name for sale.
If your heart is set on a particular name and you find that is the case, there is usually a method of contacting the owner of the name. Sometimes they will reply with an indication of the price they would be happy to receive. More often (because the final price is likely to be higher) they will ask you what your budget is.
Or you may get no reply at all – this can happen if part of the email delivery system thinks that your email isn’t legitimate and filters it into the junk or spam folder. If that happens and if there’s no other method of contacting the domain owner, you may still have to settle for your second or third choice.
Once you’ve found an available name, you need to purchase it from one of the many companies that offer that service. Prices vary and sometimes an introductory price for the first year can be followed by an unpleasant surprise when you come to renew so it’s always worth checking what the second year prices are before deciding on a supplier for your domain name.