How do you choose the right domain extension for your business?
Choosing the right domain name for your new business is a challenge in itself: in addition to your brand identity, you also need to take into account SEO considerations, which is essential if you want to be found online. Then, once youâ€™ve chosen the name, which extension should you go for? This is a separate deliberation as domain extensions will affect the performance of your website in the long run. So how do you choose whatâ€™s right for you?
Here are some top tips from our partner UK2 about domain extensions and how to choose one for your business:
1 The .com: an all-time favourite
PROS: Nearly 50% of all websites end in .com - it is the most trusted top-level domain, or TLD, on the market, and new internet users will gravitate towards typing that extension before even considering having a second look at the websiteâ€™s name they are trying to access. What is also worth considering is your geographic audience. If you have or are planning to have many international visitors, they will also feel at ease with the .com extension, viewing it as a professional and trusted business address.
CONS: Due to the extensive popularity of the .com extension, the chances are that the domain name you want to register is already taken. In order to buy a .com domain name, you will have to become creative. A unique and quirky brand name is far more likely to be available for registration in comparison to descriptive website domain names. For example, the brand name â€śPhuture.comâ€ť is more likely to be available than â€śfutureinvestments.comâ€ť.
2 .co.uk vs .uk
PROS: The .co.uk and the newer .uk domain extensions are part of the geographic identity group, such as .fr for France, .de for Germany, etc. This gives your website an edge when it comes to Google searches. Google claim they prioritise location domain extensions for a given countryâ€™s searches. For example, a website ending in .com will appear less often in Google UK than the equivalent ending in .co.uk or .uk. To promote the .uk era, UK2 is offering all .uk domain names for ÂŁ1 for the first year, starting from April 1st, 2017. Donâ€™t miss out!
CONS: We have all become used to seeing .co.uk and identify it as this countryâ€™s area code. The introduction of .uk was aimed at providing a shorter and neater version, comparable to the other country suffixes such as .com. With time, however, a neat .uk domain name will be just as desirable as the .com, donâ€™t you think?
- Are you a .london-er?
PROS: Being synonymous with our great capital London is without a doubt a marketing tool not to be dismissed. But at the same time, registering a .london domain name will not magically send your website to the top Google search results. A .london suffix is effectively a branding tool; it will create a very strong identity for your business.
CONS: It is worth keeping in mind that your business plans might end up growing beyond Greater London. If you do venture further, perhaps even internationally, then having a .london domain extension could be limiting and misleading. This again depends on your branding strategy.
- New GTLDs to consider: for example, .earth, .online, .pet
PROS: The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, is releasing more and more new TLDs to meet the worldâ€™s demand of going online. Domain suffixes such as .online clearly state that such a website does business purely online. It can also help differentiate between physical businesses and virtual ones, as some users actively seek out the latter. The .earth domain suffix is great for anything and everything environmental and holistic, which makes quite an impact. And who wouldnâ€™t love a .pet? Vets, animal trainers and behaviourists, and all things pet-related would be clearly identifiable. As there are quite a few TLDs to choose from, chances are that the already taken .com version is still available on your domain suffix of choice.
CONS: The main downside to being adventurous is that new domain extensions havenâ€™t yet earned their trust amongst internet surfers. Many of us are still a bit wary of online dangers and if something doesnâ€™t look familiar then we tend to steer clear of it. But as with all things new, it just takes one person to take the risk and start the flow, and suddenly the popularity and trust will develop.
So what is the conclusion of all of the considerations above?
- If you can, you should always register more than one extension for your chosen domain. In an ideal world, get the .com and .co.uk (or .uk), and a TLD that is relevant to your area of business, such as .pet. Registering more than one option will give you flexibility for the future.
- If your business model is clearly defined within a given boundary, such as a local London club, you could either go for the .london or .club extension, depending on which part of the branding you wish to emphasise. Sometimes it pays off to be bold and daring.
- Costs - when creating your business plan make sure to retain some budget for domain name registrations. Some exotic TLDs are more expensive than others and initially, you might want to register a few, which requires a decent budget. You will have to consider the risk of not registering a domain name and then later having to buy it off someone else, which will be more expensive. Just keep it in mind.
- Even if the .com is still topping the TLD chart, with so many new websites going live every day, there will eventually be a tipping point. And when that moment comes, the popularity of new TLDs will skyrocket - so strike while the ironâ€™s hot; itâ€™s always better to register one domain extra than one too few.