Five things you should know about domain names

We see a lot of confusion over domain names here at Canary Dwarf, both before and after purchase. Our handy little guide will help you with some of the basics you need to know.

1. Use a reputable registrar.

If you’re registering your own domain name, then we recommend you go with one of the big names like 123-reg. We have seen so many cases of business owners getting stung for ridiculous amounts of money for transferring and renewing. Domain names are cheap, most of the time they are under £10 a year. All reputable providers operate responsibly, but if you need to buy elsewhere, check the terms and conditions for any extra fees, particularly if you move the domain.

2. Don’t think you have to use your business name

There are millions of domain names in existence and it’s getting increasingly harder to find the one you want. If you have an unusual business name (like Canary Dwarf for example!) then you should have a domain name the same as your business, but if you trade under your own name and you’re called Dave Smith, you’re going to have to be creative. Don’t lengthen your domain name just to get your name in it – is jut going to make you look silly, try something along the lines of or Don’t make the mistake of adding unnecessary words into your domain like ltd, limited, plc, andco, unless it’s actually part of your branding.
Also remember that hyphens are sometimes helpful in getting the domain name you want, but there are two things you should be aware of: 1. there are difficult to relay in speech and so interrupt your brand name (imagine saying coca hyphen cola dot com for example!), and: 2. people often don’t know what hyphens are.

3. Use your domain name for email

I see it all the time. A business has a website, but then uses an ISP email address. If you’ve bought a domain name for your website, then use it for your email as well. Most ISP email addresses look very unprofessional. I suspect the reason is that businesses have used their email address for longer than they have had a domain name, but it’s really easy to switch and you will get greater flexibility from using an email address on your own domain name. One of the biggest problems with this is if the ISP changed hands or went out of business. Freeserve has changed hands many times and been taken over, but they have always honoured existing freeserve email addresses, but they don’t exactly look good for businesses who are still using them.
It also makes it more difficult for you to change your ISP. If you’re reluctant to change broadband provider because you’ll lose your email address then you’re locking yourself out of deals on switching providers.
Having your own domain is portable. As long as you pay the small renewal fee, it is yours for life and you can use it with any provider with a lot more flexibility.

4. Use domain names for marketing

You can buy domain names for temporary or permanent marketing campaigns. Domain names can point to separate websites or just pages of an existing website. Use keywords in your promotional domain names not just for extra search engine visibility, but it also helps customers identify what they are going to find if they click on your links. It’s a useful tool for print advertising too, because it helps customers to memorise a domain name when it has a specific relevance.

5. Use the right suffix for your site

More and more websites are using non-standard suffixes for their domain names, such as .co, .cc, .in, etc. These are providing availability where names have been exhausted in ,com, etc, But care must be taken to present the right image. The new suffixes (called top-level domains) are being used extensively in web applications, social media and URL shorteners, but not so widely in other business areas, so if your domain name doesn’t look right, don’t chance it. There’s certianly a lot more choice of top-level domains available now, but just make sure you choose wisely.
Similarly, don’t be fooled into using .org, .info, .biz etc where it isn’t appropriate. It’s better to rethink your name and be creative than look like you’ve scraped the bottom of the barrel.
Canary Dwarf provides a domain name administration servicee for £5 a year per domain. This covers legal ownership status, guaranteed renewal and control panel administration.

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