Creating a Domain NameDomain names must be between 1 and 63 long consisting of alphanumeric characters. Although it is advised that your domain name should be as short and easy to remember as possible.
Domain names are not case sensitive and can contain hyphens ‘-‘ but not at the beginning or end of the domain name.
Other characters (like ‘?’, ‘%’ etc) and spaces are not allowed in domain names.
Basic guidelines to creating a domain nameWhen creating a domain name, especially if it is for your company, it’s advisable to think of a name which best describes your company (if not the company name) or brand. For marketing purposes it is advantageous to have a ‘catchy’ domain name, one which people can easily remember and not type in incorrectly (thus getting the wrong website!)
Long or Short Domain Name?As discussed previously you can have up to 63 characters in a domain name but will people remember that many words / characters? As long as the domain name is easy to remember you’ve made the right choice.
AbreviationsBe careful when abbreviating for domain names, people can get very confused when trying to remember ‘what was that domain again?’.
For example a company called ‘Billys shoes and trainers’ could be abbreviated to ‘bsat.co.uk’ but would people remember that the ‘and’ was in the abbreviation? When trying to remember the domain name some people may think of ‘bst.co.uk’ (not including the ‘and’) therefore going to a totally different web site! It may be advisable to try to think of a more suitable fully quantified name such as ‘billystrainers.co.uk’ or ‘billysshoes.com’.
Hyphenating Domain NamesHyphens are allowed in domain names. Some people like them others don’t. It’s totally up to you which you prefer. Some Pros and Cons would be:
- The words stand out more to the user in a domain name which is hyphenated making it very clear what it says. For example ‘billysshoes.com’ could be ‘billys-shoes.com’.
- Search engines may find it easier to define keywords in the domain name associated with the content of the site if they are abbreviated.
- Sometimes adding a hyphen to a domain name means the difference between getting the name you want or not! (if you don’t get your first option when searching for a domain name it’s often advisable to try all the different alternatives before giving up and going for something less to you liking!)
- Hyphens can often be forgotten when telling someone what the domain name is. If someone tells you what a domain name is without literally telling you where the hyphen is you’re never going to get the right web site!
- Typing a domain name can get a little harder if there are hyphens in it (although this is only a small issue!)
Should I choose a .co.uk or .com?The type of extension you should opt for when choosing a domain name should really reflect the type of web site / company you are developing.
If you are a company in the United Kingdom then the best option would be a ‘.co.uk’ extension (see SLDs). It is often thought that users ordering products in the UK would sooner order from a site with a ‘.co.uk’ extension rather than a ‘.com’ or ‘.net’ extension as they can see that the company is definitely in the UK.
Another benefit is that when using a search engine users often select results from country specific searches (eg on Google – selecting the ‘pages from the UK’ option) thus returning sites with the extension for that country as priority.
If you want your website to be a ‘global’ website and offer products, services and information to the world then a .com or another specific TLD may be better. One word of warning: be careful which TLD you select as these are very specific. If you are a company then the TLD ‘.org’ is going to be no use to you as this is reserved for organisations and therefore users would not think of you as a specific company.
See TLDs for further information on domain name extensions
In reality, depending on the domain name you are after, you may well be limited to the extensions that are available not the extension that you would prefer. It’s always worth deciding on a domain name and searching for it to see what’s available instead of wasting too much time deliberating!
Hopefully this article has answered a few questions you have about domain names, what they are and how to go about choosing one. It’s always worth remembering that your domain name is one of the most important things attributed to your web site and therefore it’s worth taking the time to choose the right one