When starting a website, one of the first things you will need to do is to buy/register a domain name.
You can actually register as many domain names as you like (providing that name is available), but you’ll probably just want to stick to one for marketing purposes. For example, what do you want your website address to be? What do you want your email address to end in? What do you want to display on your business card? eg www.mydomainname.co.uk where ‘mydomainname’ could be whatever you choose.
The below information contains some affiliate links to our preferred domain name supplier. If you would like to use 123-Reg for your domain names it would be hugely appreciated if you could use the links in this article. You can read more about affiliate links here.
What is a domain name?
In basic terms a domain name is the ‘friendly’ address of your website. So for example the domain name of this website is blacksheepmedia.co.uk. A domain name can be up to 253 characters long and can be made up of letters, numbers or a ‘-‘ hyphen. You can register as many domain names as you like.
An important thing to consider is how you tell someone what your domain name is. For example we could have used hyphens in our domain to make it look nicer, so black-sheep-media.co.uk, BUT that also means whenever anyone asks for our website address we’d have to say “it’s black hyphen sheep hyphen media .co.uk” instead off “It’s blacksheepmedia.co.uk” which rolls off the tongue much easier. As such we would recommend you avoid using hyphens in domain names unless there’s is literally no other option. Think also about how you would tell someone what your e-mail address is? Keep it as brief and easy to remember as possible.. ..email@example.com
How to buy a domain name?
We like to keep our domain names separate from our web hosting. You don’t necessarily have to do this but it’s just our personal preference. It means it avoids an ‘all eggs in one basket’ type of scenario and means if there’s a problem with our web host we can just point the domain names to a new host. We use 123-Reg for our domain names and eUKHost for our web hosting. We’ve used them both for years and they’ve both been great:
- Here’s a link to 123-Reg to register your domain names
- Here’s a link to eUKHost to buy your website hosting
What domain name should I use for my business?
That’s a big question and something you will need to put some very careful thought in to. When we set up a business from scratch we generally try to make sure the domain name we want is available before committing to that business name.
The key thing to remember is that domain names are registered on a first-come-first-served basis. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. So if you find your perfect domain you might want to register it before someone else does!
We usually search for available domain names using 123-Reg’s own domain search tools. They’re very good and will suggest alternative domains if the one you selected isn’t available.
Should I buy a .co.uk, .uk or .com name or something else?
Again, that is another very good question! These things are known as TLDs or Top Level Domains. There are thousands to choose from but in the UK we generally settle for one (or all) of these:
But, don’t limit yourself to those if you’re struggling to find your perfect name. You could equally go for .xyz or .news or any one of the other available domain names.
All I would say is in the UK people are very comfortable with the three options above (.co.uk, .uk & .com). For example, for our website we registered blacksheepmedia.co.uk and blacksheepmedia.uk. We use the .co.uk as the primary name and the .uk just forwards to the .co.uk one. You’ll notice if you click on the .uk address above it takes you straight to the .co.uk address.
How long should I register my domain for?
Another tricky question! Normally you can register a domain for anything from 1 to 10 years. When you’re first starting out you might not want to commit to a long domain registration in case things don’t work out.
Having said that domain names are cheap and there are unconfirmed reports that longer registrations may boost your search engine performance. We’d suggest going for at least 2 years to start with.
What other domain services should I opt for?
When you register a domain you’ll be offered a load of optional extras that you don’t really need such as e-mail hosting and domain name privacy. Skip those for now – just register the domains.
If you’re offered ‘domain name protection’ it’s up to you whether you buy this. It adds an extra layer of protection for your domains. Not 100% necessary but depends how paranoid you’re feeling.
Obviously buy all the variants of the domain you want – in the UK I would generally suggest the .co.uk, .uk and .com variants if possible. Registering all three will offer you some brand protection for your business, in that if you register the domain names it means others can’t.
Also registering three domain names will not mean you have to create three separate websites, just one will do, you can have a primary domain attached the your website and the other two will forward onto this one.
Alternatively if you’d prefer to have someone do all the domain registration, management, website hosting, SSL certification etc on your behalf , then please get in touch with us and we’ll provide you with a competitive quotation.