People will visit your website from a number of sources: Search Engines; Links on other sites; Emails (from you, friends or other organisations); Marketing materials (eg. flyers); Press (eg. radio or newspapers); Business Cards; Word of mouth; etc.
So getting the right name/web address is arguably the most important decision to make prior to building any website. It needs to be memorable, easy to spell, quick to type and say something about your business.
There are many choices for what your domain could be, eg. www.freshspring.eu, www.fresh-spring.co.uk, etc. However when it comes down to it there are really only a few you should seriously consider for two reasons:
- people don’t always remember the ending of a domain name so stick to the most common ones
- anything other than the most common varieties cost considerably more on an annual basis (although there may be an initial discount)
The following domains have (roughly) these meanings:
|.com||Supposedly an international commercial organisation, though this is now so generically used and understood that -if available- this is often the best choice for any organisation|
|.org||Primarily for charities and institutions, this is perfect if you are not commercial|
|.net||Very much a poor cousin to .org and .com, it was originally used for ‘networks’ in the broadest sense, with some focus on user groups but not really an ideal choice unless the other options are taken|
|.co.uk||A commercial UK organisation or generic though less generic than a .com|
|.org.uk||A charity or institution based in the UK|
|.eu||An EU-based website (less popular at the moment, useful for cross-EU work)|
You may well want to obtain two domains names (eg. .co.uk and .com) if a commercial entity, while as a charity a .org might be your primary but it could be worth having .com and .org.uk, though you might not bother with .co.uk unless you really need to protect your brand.
Increasingly this is becoming more important. Your organisation might be ’Save The Whales Campaign’ with an abbreviation of ‘STWC’ but that isn’t a word in the English or probably any other Latin-based language (at worst it could be something undesirable if containing a vowel).
Think carefully about what is really key, so for example the ‘save’ and ’whales’ portion is the real message and are terms people are most likely to search for, so a web address like www.savewhales.com would be good.
However, even this doesn’t quite cut it, in that search engines see the word ’savewhales’ whereas www.save-whales.com is clearer. However you end up with the ‘spellable’ problem, so in the case of two or more words we would recommend purchasing the ‘-’ version as well.
Finally, don’t forget that .com or .co.uk means ‘commercial’ while .org or .org.uk means ‘organisation’ (eg. a charity) so while .com might be important for marketing purposes you might want the .org or .org.uk for the purpose of search engine relevancy.
What if I already have bought a domain or two?
There are two simple options if you already have an address
- leave it where it is and repoint it (we’re happy to do this for free and will discount the cost of a domain name from the hosting, eg. £60 – £11 for a .com/.org/.net or £60 – £4 for a domain ending .uk)
- move the domain into our account (you then just have one bill a year). This may be necessary if you are changing hosting providers completely and we will help with a smooth transition, particularly of email accounts
What if I want to buy several domains?
Initially we only encourage you to obtain one domain, i.e. the one on which the hosting account is initially set up (it can be changed). The simple reason is that you can spend lots of money on multiple domain names quite easily and while you build your site a new focus might come to light which necessitates a change in name.
So you certainly can get more than one, but we think it helps to think it through first. If you are certain, you can order additional domains.
Yes, we know that isn’t a word but it’s a really important factor. Remember the aim isn’t to make things difficult for your users but to let them get to your site quickly and not miss it. Good examples of commonly misspelt words are ’accommodation’ (how many m’s or c’s?) and ‘jewellery’ (how many e’s or l’s?).
The simplest thing to do is avoid them completely and choose shorter words, however there is a balance with also being ‘Search Engine Friendly’. For the most part, ditch long words in favour of simple ones and avoid any special letters, also you can’t have punctuation other than – or _ to separate words.
Also be careful of words that are just ‘long words’. If you can say it simply then do. You won’t be the only person who needs to get your domain correct, anywhere it is published and someone has to type it (see sources above) or remember it you have a potential problem.
Short & Sweet
Say you are the ‘Save The Whale Campaign’, there are many options you could choose, eg.www.savethewhalecampaign.com, www.save-the-whale-campaign.com, www.savewhalecampaign.com and so on. Very quickly you end up having to register many variants.
The other downside is that long domain names are rarely easy to remember, take up too much space on marketing materials or have to look small to fit it all in. Some organisations take a two-fold approach, eg.www.stwc.com is quick to type but instantly refreshed to keyword-rich www.save-the-whale.com.
Also remember that your domain isn’t just www.save-the-whale-campaign.com but you have email addresses too which could become very long. For example firstname.lastname@example.org or the common structure of email@example.com
Finally, don’t forget that your domain names is something you will have to frequently type in all kinds of documents, so save yourself a second or so