If you are thinking of buying a domain name here are our 10 top tips to help to ensure you chose the right name and avoid potential pitfalls.
1. If you are buying a .co.uk using Nominet’s WHOIS search facility to see what is available rather than Google.
2. If your chosen name is purchased but not in use (put the url into the address bar to see if it is in use) then the current owner may no longer want it. If their contact details are showing in the WHOIS record then drop them a line to see if they will sell. We have bought and sold domains this way at reasonable costs. If the owner’s contact information is not displayed you can use ‘drop catching’ services (often called back ordering) like Domain Monster. These services will try to buy the expired domain on your behalf. It is definitely worth trying as the actual time and date of expiration can vary despite what it might say on the WHOIS record. We’ve used Domain Monster many times and been successful each time although there is no guarantee.
3. Your chosen domain name needs to be easy to remember, easy to spell and preferably different to your competitors. You also need a domain name which will continue to be suitable if your business expands in the future.
4. If you are setting up an online shop please purchase the matching .com and .co.uk addresses. International customers are used to seeing .com but are less inclined to shop with a .co.uk address. How do we know? Because we’ve helped so many online shops over the years and run our own that we’ve seen it happen a LOT.
5. Think carefully about any similar domain names. If your new business will be called Fantastic Cupcakes and you are going to buy www.fantasticcupcakes.co.uk we would also recommend that you buy www.fantasticcupcake.co.uk The reason behind this is that it stops any would-be competitors setting up and trying to use a similar name to you. By the way Fantastic Cupcakes is just a made up example. Those domains were purchased a long time ago. These days we often have to think hard to come up with good domain names which brings us to…
6. Struggling to think of a domain name? There are plenty of domain name generators out there which will suggest weird and wonderful names. Here are a few which can help to inspire you.
7. Chosen your name? Great. Now keep it secret! Yes until you have purchased it don’t shout it from the roof tops. Or even discuss it in coffee shops. We’ve lost count of the number of clients who had thought of a fabulous name but had lost it simply because they didn’t register it straight away. One in particular really did discuss her chosen name in Starbucks and drove home to buy it only to discover it had been purchased in the past hour. So register before telling the world.
8. This is a bit like tip 7 but we also want you to register it BEFORE setting up any social media accounts. There are people who watch who is setting up social media accounts with the aim of buying their domains before them and holding them to ransom. Again it’s happened to some of our clients.
9. Once you’ve bought your domain name then we recommend setting up accounts with the same name with all the social media platforms just to reserve the name. Keep a note of your login email of course.
10. When you buy a domain name you will be asked to provide an email account. Please make sure this is a regularly used account. If not set up email forwarding from it to your usual email address. This is because reminders to renew this domain will be sent via the email you gave them. If you don’t use that email address in the future you won’t see the renewals and you won’t renew your domain name. Again this has happened to a few of our clients over the years so please don’t let it happen to you.
We hope these top 10 tips help you. If you have any more tips to help others then please let us know via the comments box below.