Domain names can play a really important role in your business, how do you get the right one?
05 01, 2020
by Paul Hogden
Table of Contents
What Is A Domain Name?
For any website builder, domain names probably don’t get a great deal of thought from one day to the next, but the fact of the matter is that a good domain can play a really important role in your business. They get your company recognised. They also play a role in getting your website found – via SEO too.
As an online business owners, having a memorable address means that you stand a far better chance of remaining sticky in the mind of your client – or website visitor. It’s something that you can hook onto if your website is being promoted, or you’re getting a new business card produced, sharing your professional email address, so much better than a free email address and contact information. A domain name is definitely an important asset, as important as your phone number.
Having said that, some people spend so much time thinking about their new website address that sometimes it actually puts them into paralysis.
There are loads of different top level domain TLD out there, and by TLDs, I mean like, flok.marketing, for example. The extension is what makes it different.
For us, it’s .marketing, but there is of course, more than one domain name extension here are some of the more generic top level domains: .com, .co.uk – known as country code top level domains in the United Kingdom, not to mention .edu.
The list is almost endless. And there are likely more of these being released periodically.
It’s key to not get too frustrated if you can’t find a TLD that suits your business. I’m sure that one will become available that will suit your business.
How To Get A Domain Name
When you’re registering domains, try to keep it as short and concise as you can. It may not always be possible, but try to avoid putting the word “the” at the beginning and any other unhelpful words – as they are likely to be the reason you get less visitors – for no other reason than a mistake. Try to avoid hyphens. Those are the types of things that introduce ambiguity, and therefore potentially transpiring that people will go to the wrong website or no website at all. Do try to find a domain that reflects your products and services.
It’s crucial to consider these points when choosing a domain – to avoid problems in the future.
So, why do we even have these names? Well, it’s a great question. Most people are aware that websites are hosted on servers, servers that are in touch with the world wide web. Those servers each have a string of number called an IP address.
That IP address is unique to that particular server. Now, it would be no good putting an IP address on a business card because it would be terribly hard to remember. So, domain names are the intermediary.
When somebody types in a website address into their web browser, what happens next is that information is sent to your nominated DNS server on the web. The server then takes that information and translates it into the IP address.
After typing flok.marketing into my web browser, it’s taken to the name server and changed into server number 173.122.273.24. That is essentially how it works.
Then finally your web page gets served. This all happens in a split second. You probably wouldn’t even notice it.
Who Owns The Domain Name?
Many people ask if they actually own the domain name? And if not, who does own the custom domain? Well, the process works a lot like a registration number plate. It’s yours for as long as you keep paying for it.
Generally, people will buy a domain for two, three, five years. At that point, if they don’t renew, that name goes back into the pool for somebody else to purchase. You can never actually entirely own a domain, but you can buy it for a long period of time.
Another question related to that is who owns a particular domain? Now, that used to be really, really easy because you could do research using a WHOIS lookup function on the internet. There are websites specifically designed to show you who owns a particular domain from the WHOIS database.
However, nowadays, and particularly with the advent of GDPR, that domain information is often obscured because when you purchase or renew a domain, you can often buy, for a few pounds, domain privacy. Therefore, a lot of the time, that information is hidden.
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Sit back and watch as I answer some of the most popular questions relating to domain names, perfect for those who’d like to know a little bit more about the building blocks of a website.
How To Buy A Domain Name
I also get asked how to buy a domain name. There are lots and lots and lots of places that sell names. We sell them, but we normally sell them through an intermediary. But you can purchase them through somewhere like 123 Reg, or somewhere like that.
You make the choice. There are lots and lots of different pricing levels dependent on the extension of the top-level domain.
How To Register A Name
As an example, .coms are more expensive to purchase in the UK than a .co.uk, although there are lots and lots and lots of offers, so it pays to shop around. You use a domain registrar. Sometimes they have offers I have seen the odd free domain on occasion.
But definitely check to find out what they normally charge. Most of those service providers provide the same service, so fundamentally, you are shopping on price.
We charge a premium because, quite often, we are setting up not just the domain and buying it on behalf of the customer, but we’re tying it into a website, maybe email services and those types of things, which takes a little bit of time. But actually, the purchasing of a domain can be done really really cheaply.
Can I Buy Domain Name Without Hosting?
One of the other questions that I get asked is, “Can I buy a domain without hosting?” And of course, the answer is yes you can. You can instigate domain registration and not do anything with it at all.
As long as you keep paying for the domain renewal, that domain will remain yours. You don’t need to have hosting at all. You can just have the domain.
Can I Change The Domain Of My Website?
Well, fundamentally, you can, but there are lots and lots and lots of implications on that, not least that you may have to change the configuration of your website to make it work again. A lot of this work would be achieved using the hosting companies control panel and ftp.
The other thing that it will have an implication of is your search engine rankings. If you’re ranking highly for a particular domain and the webpage, that will change, and it will have an impact. So, really keep that in mind before you make a massive decision like changing a domain name of your website.
I was also asked whether or not the register, for example, Go Daddy, LCN, 123 Reg, actually own the domain names. And the answer is no. ICANN, for example, in America, look after the databases that hold the names and the owners of all of the domain names.
Nominet in the UK look after the .co.uk names. The fact of the matter is, as I said before, you don’t actually own the domain. The domain is only yours for as long as you pay for it.
What About SSL Certificates?
And finally, I wanted to talk about SSL certificates and domain names. The two are not mutually exclusive. The two can be purchased entirely separately, and you don’t necessarily need to have one to have the other. An SSL certificate can be purchased entirely separately, or you can get a free one dependent on the level of protection that you’re actually looking to have for your website.
So, for example, if it’s more of a brochure site, something where it’s more information-based but people aren’t necessarily transacting anything and handing over too much information about themselves, then a low-level certificate will be fine.
If you’re running an e-commerce store, and perhaps you’re getting a lot of orders, or the value of the goods is really, really high, then you really need an excellent SSL certificate. And that may cost you hundreds or thousands of pounds because the protection that it offers you is so much greater.
It’s really down to personal preference as to how much protection you get, but you don’t have to have one for a domain, although it is recommended, and the search engines love an SSL certificate, and in fact, do also rank website pages higher if they are shown to be secure because it gives some validity to your online presence.
So, consider an SSL certificate. You can often get an SSL certificate free with your website hosting. I know that we certainly offer a low-level certificate which means that you can get that padlock, which all important to show that your website is trusted by the web browsers.
So, look at SSL certificates. However, choose wisely because you could be wasting a lot of money, or you could be over-compensating for something you don’t necessarily need to do at that particular point in time. But an SSL certificate is a great idea, but you don’t necessarily need to buy them from the same place, and you don’t even necessarily need to pay money for them.
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