Domains and the world of commerce online can be a bit of a minefield. Rules, trends and algorithms are always shifting and improving, so it can be really hard to know where to begin. Let’s start with a quick recap!
A Brief History of Domain Names…
The ‘domain name’; the URL that is registered to your company, creating the online address in which your business lives. In every country there is a domain authority, in the UK it is Nominet, in the US it is ICANN. These look after the domains introduced for their region (‘.co.uk’ and ‘.uk’ for the UK, ‘.com.’ for the US, and so on). Domains were originally designed to give a hierarchy to countries online, although this has evolved over time, this hierarchy still exists to an extent. Google, for example, uses domain names to order information; some domains having more weight than others.
- .COM: Originally intended for global commerce, ‘.com’ was quickly adopted by the US in place of ‘.us’. ‘.com’ is still, technically, intended for commerce, but has heavy American connotations to go with it.
- .CO.UK: This domain, used for UK businesses, is to be supplemented with ‘.uk’ in the coming year for ease and to fit in with global trends.
- .ORG and .EDU: There are many, non-country-centric, domains also in use. For example, ‘.org’ is reserved for non-profit organisations and ‘.edu’ for education.
So, as you can see, it is important to pick the right strategy when considering your domain names.
Search Engines should be in the forefront of your mind if your business will operate in different countries. If your business is confined to one country or region, securing domain names is pretty straight forward, as there will only be a few that you need to secure. However, if you are going international, you have a bit more to consider.
Basically, if you want to go international you have to consider whether you want to take up the domain names associated with the new territories you are looking to do business in. This has implications, the biggest ones being cost, management and autonomy over the websites that exist in each territory and how that can affect your brand.
In the end it comes down to whether or not the acquisition of the domain names is going to benefit you in the long run. This decision can be made easier by working out what your competitors are likely to do. Are they likely to pick up your domain in this country? If they do, will it significantly affect your business?
The fact is, there is no definitive answer until you consider your business intent, where your customers are, how global your product is, how niche you want to be. .io for example can used as a UK territory (as it’s a British Indian Ocean Territory) and on-trend branding, and more easily associated to hack domain names where the concatenation of the domain name helps give your website an indemnity in its self e.g. or identified with digital business because of the I (input) and O (output) binary connection – right nerds? We tend to always recommend the .co.uk and ‘.com’ as the place to start, as this is recognised by and serves most countries and if someone does remember your website address, its likely they’ll plum for .com. As for region specific domains, it has to be right for you and your business. It takes a little research and a well thought out strategy for your growth.
Where to Start…
The first thing to do is check who owns your domain name, and whether the other iterations are available. You can do this here: https://www.whois.com/whois. Its of major importance because it’s the legal ownership and if your business is online. You don’t want to be held captive to a disgruntled ex-employee. Once you know this, you can go to the drawing board and have a think about what domain and SEO strategy works for you!
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Written by Sam Gardiner
I'm a designer based in Liverpool currently working for E-blueprint. Die hard Bolton Wanderers...Enough said.