Everything about your online company revolves around your domain name. It’s the gateway for your customers to enter your business and consume either your products or service.
In a literal sense, your domain name is what the user types into their browser to reach your site, but it’s also your brand, your business identity and your most important marketing tool.
When the internet was in its infancy, picking up a domain name was easy. With millions to choose from and more generic names such as business.com, early internet adopters had few problems registering the names they wanted. Nowadays, it's a different story. All businesses, from sole traders to multinational conglomerates are encouraged to have some kind of online presence, making the process of securing a decent domain name increasingly difficult.
Mitesh Soma launched his online pharmacy ChemistDirect.co.uk in 2007.
“It can be really difficult to find good domain names as time goes on,” he says. “Securing ours was important because it’s one of our biggest assets. I haven’t got the dot com, but I’m trying to buy it. However, as we’re only based in the UK it’s not so bad. You’ll often have to pay a premium for a good name now, but you need to make sure it’s something memorable, easy for people to find and does what it says on the tin.”
Mitesh advises buying a few domains and trying them out to see what works and what proves more popular. That way you can drop the ones that aren’t successful.
There are plenty of success stories on start-ups detailing how web entrepreneurs purchased their domain for about £10. Truffleshuffle is one example. However, depending on what kind of term or wording you’re after it could cost a lot more.
Check out what domains are available before doing anything as drastic as registering your business’ name with Companies House. Some people hang on to domain names for years without actually using them for a website, so securing your place on the web doesn’t mean you have to start trading straight after.
There are even companies that will give you a free domain name as part of their package of services. However, they may be more limited in services and you should make sure you can take the domain with you should you wish to move service providers before you build up a business around that web address.
For more information on domain names and tips on how to register and secure them read our dedicated section on the subject here.