What actually is a domain name?

In essence a domain is your own little space of the internet which holds, among other things, your website. The domain name therefore acts as a way of finding, interacting with and directing traffic to your website.  

Most of time people are referring to a URL often called a web address.  It's the name that you see along the top of your web browser and every website has one. By giving someone the domain name of your website they'll be able to visit your website directly, without having to rely on searching on Google.

Your domain name could also match a professional email address. Any messages sent to your own email address are being directed to your own area rather than being sent to a big company's internet space such as Gmail.

I tend to suggest thinking of domains like a physical property. It's where you keep all your things, such as your website, if someone had your website address they could visit and it's where the internet postman knows to deliver your emails.

What should it contain?

Firstly, it’s key to remember that domain names are unique. Given that the internet is a worldwide phenomenon, your domain name has to be unique globally, not just nation specific. While it may sound impossible to find something that fits, you'd be surprised, there's a lot that can be done to find a good match.

Domain names don't have to be a direct match of your company name. While there can certainly be some advantages to having something that matches, it's more important that it’s memorable and easy to type. In an ideal world we always suggest thinking along the lines of what you do and where you do it. Not only will it be easy to remember and clear to your customers as to what your website design is about, but more importantly, it makes it clear to Google what this website is going to be about, and where it's focused.

It's also worth keeping in mind that you are limited in punctuation in a domain name. Capital letters don't exist, spaces and special characters such as @, ! and # won't work either. Hyphens remain a good way of separating out words, but too many can look messy and could be difficult to read out to someone.

.com or .co.uk?

So now we have an idea of the main part of the address, but how do we end it? You've probably come across a few different suffixes before, .com and .co.uk being the ones you'll see the most. There are what are referred to as top level domains. Going back to our property analogy, think of these as different towns. It would get confusing if a town had many streets with the same name, but there may be two streets of the same name in nearby towns. A .com and a .co.uk are totally different places, and therefore could have the same descriptive name but lead to different websites for different businesses.

These suffixes give us another clever way of finding an available domain name, as there is lots to choose from. Almost every county gets its own suffix option. A co.uk is a great way of telling people your website is for a company in the UK. Due to the large number of website designs these days there are new choices such as .uk for a smarter and cleaner look. For instance, we use one of these swanky suffixes ourselves; dotgo.uk. Non location specific ones such as .com tend to be used for American markets, but can be used by anyone to create a more international style. A .org is designed to represent an organization, and up until last year was intended solely for not-for-profits and the education sector. Similarly , .net was designed for the telecoms industry, they remain a popular option but tend to have a bit of a dated feel now.

Hopefully you have a better idea about what you could call your website now. If you'd like to have a go at finding a domain name for your business website, then have a go with the search tool below.


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