Dec 18, 2008

Choosing and Registering Your Domain Name - Setting Up Your Own E-Commerce Website Part 2 of 6

welcome to the second installment of this 6-part ecourse on setting up your own e-commerce website.

In this second installment on creating your own online store, we are going to give you some tips on selecting your domain name and let you know how to register it.

What's in a Domain Name?

The main thing that should be in a domain name is simplicity. Choose a domain name that is easy for people to remember. Do not include hyphens or numbers in your domain; both are tough to recall. Also, people are most familiar with .com and .co.uk (for a UK audience). So try to use either of those suffixes.

The name should not be overly clever. If you create a domain name that's a great inside joke to you and your friends but no one else can retain it, you will not be well served. It's not a good sign if you have to tell people how to spell the name.

Domain names should be:

  • Short - one word or a quick phrase.
  • Understood when heard once.
  • Able to be spelled when heard.

Using the name of your company is best. If that name has already been taken, then try creating a domain that describes what you sell. Perhaps you sell bakeware; then try bakewarekeyword.co.uk or keywordbakeware.co.uk (where keyword is any word that is, in the mind of the buyer, closely related to your business). To find out what buyers search for, you can use keyword research tools like the one found at http://freekeywords.wordtracker.com/).

Hint: if you are creating a new online company come up with the company name, and before finalizing it, see if it is available as a domain. If it's taken, then try to come up with another company name and search that as a domain. It's best if your company name and domain name are the same.


Registering Your Domain

Registering your domain name is relatively easy, fast and inexpensive. You use a registrar that has been granted a license to register domains. Depending upon which registration service you choose, prices vary. Some will argue that registering your domain name for a period longer than 1 year will be beneficial to your future search engine rankings. This is in part true, however as a start up business we realise your budget may be limited. For the best value for money for UK domains we strongly recommend 1&1, which offers both domain registration and hosting (more on hosting in part 3). They charge only £4.99 for 2 years for .co.uk domains, and £8.99 for .com domains for 1 year. For a US host a very good option is GoDaddy.

If you decide to choose a different registrar, bear in mind the following criteria:

  1. Find one that's relatively inexpensive.
  2. Use a service that has a site that's easy to use.
  3. Make sure that once your domain is registered, you can easily access it, change your account information and sell or transfer the domain.
  4. Choose a provider that offers over the phone support 24/7.
  5. Do not decide to pay less if you must sacrifice ease of use, access to your domain or 24/7 support.

If you put "uk domains" or "domain registration" into a search engine, you'll find many companies offering these services. Always take time to carefully research these providers, making your choice based on the criteria above.

Part of a registration company's service is a free instantaneous search to make sure no one else is using that domain. Within seconds of putting in your preferred domain and clicking search, you'll be told if it is available and given the opportunity to register it. Or you can use http://www.whois.sc for more in-depth information on any domain.

Creating a domain name that is short and easy to recall is essential. This will help people remember your company, making it easy for them to return to your site without needing to first find you on search engines or marketing material. A return visit is priceless because it often implies an intent to buy. Creating your domain using the name of your company is preferable.

In Part Three of our series on setting up your own e-commerce site, we'll determine what services you should expect to get from your hosting company.

No comments: