Whether you’re just starting up your small business or have been going for years, it’s important to have a website. Even if you don’t plan to do any business online, people can still discover you and find out about what you offer, as well as where you are by searching Google.
Google will automatically include your business in appropriate search results, and if people search in Google Maps (as they often do) they’ll expect to see a website among the contact information so they can get more details.
Is .com better than .co.uk?
One thing you’ll need to do, regardless of whether you buy your domain name (the address for your website) separately or as part of a web hosting package, is to decide on, yes, a name, but also which ‘top-level domain’ to go for.
That’s the fancy name for the part that goes at the end of a website address, and for those in the UK, the main choices are .co.uk or .com. There are lots of other top-level domains (TLDs) to choose from including .org, .biz, .website and others.
However, although a website address isn’t as important to either Google or people searching online as it once was, a .co.uk or .com website is still trusted more by visitors than some of the other TLDs.
To answer the question, .com is not necessarily better than .co.uk. If anything, you should stick with .co.uk if your business is primarily for customers in the UK.
If your services are available globally, then a .com address is preferable.
What if my chosen TLD is already taken?
When you start searching for a domain name, you might find that the .com or .co.uk has already been taken by another business.
In this case you will have to get creative with your domain name, or come up with a different name altogether if there’s another business which has a very similar name.
For example, if you planned to call your website www.customprinting.com but that was already taken, you can add a hyphen, since www.custom-printing.com is different. But it is also easily confused with the original site, so you might prefer to change the name to something different, potentially adding in your name or location, such as www.clevelandcustomprinting.com.
Is a .uk domain name good?
Around six years ago, the shorter .uk domain name was made available. Owners of .co.uk domains were offered the chance to buy the .uk version of their existing .co.uk domain name. They were given five years to decide and that 'right of registration' has now expired, meaning there are lots of .uk domains available to buy now.
This may well help if you find your chosen .co.uk domain is taken.
It’s best not to pick a very long website name which is hard to read and easy to mis-spell. And make sure you double-check your chosen name can’t be read in the wrong way. If your company is called Pen Island, do not run those two words together in a domain name, as it becomes www.penisland.com. And, if you still can’t see the problem, it can be read in two very different ways.
Hopefully you have a better idea of how to choose a domain name and which top-level domain to go for.
As your website will have to be stored on a server somewhere online, it makes sense to get your domain name as part of a hosting package: often the domain is included free of charge for your first year.
There are alternatives, and you’ll find them in our roundup of the best website builders.