The internet may be a vast expanse of information, but it's also your chance to take your traditional business model and transfer it online. You may have already invested in a PC, got web access, and decided how to market your company online. But what's the next step in your e-business strategy?
The vital tool you need is a domain name. Unlike machines that retain numerical information, your customers remember brand names. For this reason, your domain name will be one of the most valuable points of contact between you and your online customers. In essence, it is your gateway to a website and the benefits it can bring.
What is a domain name?
In short, a domain name is your address on the internet and your first step to setting up a website. From there it will mean that anyone in the world can access information about you, your products and your services on a 24-hour, seven days a week basis. It will mean that your brand and product names are protected online as well as offline and that you can trade and communicate on the internet. If used correctly, a domain name can make the difference between success and failure.
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. The number of companies with a website and domain name is staggering.
What's on offer?
There are many domain names on offer and more are being made available by the minute. According to Nominet, the UK not-for-profit organisation that manages .co.uk registration, domains are split into three general categories:
First come the generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs), which are not linked to any country. These include the familiar and most popular domain name .com as well as .org and .net.
Second are the Top Level Domain Names (TLDs). Every country has its own domain name and its own set of rules regulating these names. For example, the United Kingdom uses .co.uk, while Ireland uses .ie and France .fr.
This is then split into Second Level Domain Names or SLDs. These include: .org.uk, .plc.uk and .ltd.uk for registered company names only as well as .net.uk for internet service providers (ISPs) and .sch.uk for schools.
Third, there are the new TLDs. This could widen the market to even more users and potentially give small businesses a chance of registering some of the most memorable names on the internet. These include newer country code TLDs such as .me (Montenegro).