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tb 37 p.103Getting the right domain name for your business is vital. Simon Yeoman, general manager at Fasthosts Internet Ltd, gives his top tips to choosing yours.

A domain is not only a name for your website. Nowadays, it is a key marketing element for success. However, domain names are often chosen in haste at the start of a business venture and are rarely revised. The online address for a business, your domain is the first bit of insight a consumer has into your business, so it’s important to get it spot on, give the right impression of your business, and capture a customer between the www and the dots.

TOP TIPS TO STRUCTURE YOUR DOMAIN

To begin, you’d be wise to consider these four points before making any decisions:

1. Keep it short and simple – There’s nothing worse than a long domain, which is difficult to remember. By simplifying your domain and making it memorable, it will be much easier for consumers to find you online.

2. Personalise it – By including your business name within your domain, customers can immediately identify you.

3. Be creative – It’s not a bad thing to be creative. In fact, consumers are more likely to remember a name that is different and stands out. With the new domains there are endless opportunities for businesses to present themselves online.

4. Be search engine friendly – The inclusion of important keywords within your domain name can help search engines find you more easily.

BE EASILY IDENTIFIABLE

The inclusion of your business name, type or location within your web address can help consumers relate immediately to your business. Currently, newly created businesses can sometimes find reduced options to register their desired name, as many have already been taken.

PROTECT YOUR BRAND

Domain names are now valuable online real estate. Always register your full company name, and also a clear abbreviation of it. It may also be wise to register names for your key products or services before your competitors do. Many UK businesses will be motivated to purchase the new domains in order to protect themselves from cyber-squatting or infringement. However, SMEs need only think about which domains could have the most value in building on their online identity and make sensible, sustainable selections.

CONSIDER PEOPLE AND SEARCH ENGINES

Always aim for a catchy name that is easy to remember and pass on verbally. For longer names, use hyphens to improve readability. Website visitors often misspell words, switch or miss letters. Check how your domain name could be misspelled, and consider securing these as additional domains. Local search engine listings are increasingly of high importance to small firms.

The more keywords referenced in your domain name, the more search engines will rate your website and position it higher in results, which leads to more visitors.

NEW DOMAINS FOR YOUR INDUSTRY

In recent months we have begun to see the release of new Top-Level Domains (nTLDs), changing the digital landscape and the way businesses can now present themselves online. For example, an eatery can use a .restaurant, .pizza, .pub, or .coffee domain ending to specify their offerings.

A tradesman might consider using a .plumbing, .construction or .builders to reflect their trade. These domains are a great way for firms to secure their brand names and relevance to a subject.

As more nTLDs launch in the coming months, small companies will have time to explore the possibilities, and build up online identity. Trade domains are, in time, expected to speed up consumer search results for subjects, and make it far easier to identify a relevant business from its name. SMEs should focus on the huge new opportunities they have to make enhancements, however modest, to their web identity.

EMBRACE GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION

For many firms, geographical identity can be a powerful benefit on the internet. Research shows strong consumer demand for regional web identity within the British Isles – 58% overall, with the strongest being from Scottish consumers, where 71% admit they are more likely to buy from a firm that used a .scot web address. 44% of Welsh consumers already expect the use of .wales domains to speed up their searches for local businesses.

Fasthosts is experiencing strong demand for .london, which achieved a total of 35,000 registrations on the first day of general availability. Both .scot and .wales are well into their launch campaigns. In time. the majority of firms could benefit from reflecting both their local identity, such as their city or county name, as well as their trade identity such as .plumbing, .restaurant or .construction.

OVERALL

All domain names need to be conducive to your company branding, sales and communication plans. Today, established domains such as .co.uk and .com remain the most trusted by UK consumers and are important for being recognisable worldwide. The strong growth of emerging domain options will mean that businesses should now consider their domain options carefully, however there is no need to panic or be alarmed.

Overall, new domain types will mean a less crowded internet for everyone, as there will be a far greater range of options for an internet address. For business owners, there are many new avenues for capturing relevant traffic and developing their digital branding.