Business owners often choose a company name but don’t realise that the choice of name can impact how their company is found by prospective customers and therefore marketed effectively online.
Once you have your company name, you’ll need to register the domain name i.e. the name you will use for online activity such as website, emails or social media activity – in other words www.yourcompanyname.com. By taking care of a few simple steps at the beginning, you not only ensure a solid foundation for building up your online marketing activity but also start to build a recognised and trusted brand for your business.
Here are a few tips for securing your domain as the first step to building your online presence effectively:
Chosen the company name? Get your domain name quickly!
It may seem obvious but registering your domain as soon as possible is a point well worth reiterating. Many people set up their company and quickly realise afterwards that the domain name isn’t available or there are several hundred companies named the same and you may only be able to get a .biz address or have to find something alternative. Also if you are competing with others who have the same name, you may not appear on the first few pages of Google when people search for you. Customers often automatically assume that your website will be called YourBusinessName.com so quickly check if this domain is available to ensure consistency across websites, emails etc.
- Something worth considering is not searching for your .com name until you are almost ready to buy it. Some domain sites (so I’ve been told) sell or pass on your searches to potential buyers so you may find if you have searched for your name and then go back in a week to buy it, it is gone – I dont know if its just coincidence or not, but its worth taking into consideration.
- Wait until you are down to a few possible names for your business and then search for availability of the domain names so you can determine which one to go for.
Finding a .com that’s available
Many of the best domain names have been snapped up and generic names and short names were the first to go, so you may have to get creative when looking for that golden link. As long as the name is not copyrighted or trademarked you can register alternative domains such as .co.uk and .uk and these are also good to purchase anyway in addition to a .com to help you showing up in local searches. You could also consider buying up similar names for example if you are called “HandNFoot” you could buy both HandNFoot.com and handandfoot.com.
Try to avoid dashes number and other symbols – think about the ease if you have to explain clever spellings or special characters over the phone or how easy it will be for people to remember. If people guess and get it wrong you could be sending them to your competition’s website.
You can check for availability through sites such as LCN or 123reg (known as domain registrars) or if the domain isn’t available they may be available to purchase through sites such as BuyDomains.com
At the same time I would also look if the name is also available on social media sites for example @youname for Twitter or facebook.com/yourname. It is best to also secure those for other main social media sites you may want to use in the future – secure them before someone else does.
TOP TIP: A great site to check usernames and domain name availability is http://knowem.com/
Choose your domain registrar carefully
Many seem cheap at first until you go through the payment process and add in the hidden extras. They often try to sell you email as well as hosting (hosting you can do after and it comes with free email) as well as a host of other unnecessary extras. Generally to start with you just need the domain and privacy if you wish. Prices range from around £10 a year for .com and £3 – £4 a year for .co.uk or .uk – you often get discounts for buying domains for a longer period of time.
Promote your domain on all platforms
Be sure to promote your domain effectively on emails, adverts, business cards, social media profiles – the more you use it the more people will remember it and visit your site.
Don’t allow your domain to expire!
If you run a successful business and fail to re-register your domain name on time when it’s due to expire, you run the risk of a competitor snapping it up and you may be forced to buy back your domain at a higher price or find a new name. Be sure to have the registrar automatically renew your domain each year by keeping your credit card information on file or use a consistently used email for your email notifications.
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