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Questions to ask before buying a domain name

By Alexandra Gavril - September 12, 2019

Registering a domain name is an important decision.

No matter if you’re planning to use it to start a blog, present your business or non-profit organisation, sell products and services online, or flaunt your work and creations, picking a domain that checks all the right boxes is no easy task.

We’re here to help make this task a little less overwhelming. So here are the key questions you need to answer to make sure that your chosen name is the right one for you and the goals you want to achieve.

How do I pick a good name?

Choosing a domain name can be an adventure sometimes. However, it’s worth the time and effort to get the right one since you’re likely to use it for many years to come.

So what makes a good name?

  • It’s short, ideally no more than two-three words.
  • It’s easy to understand, meaning people should be able to quickly type it into their browsers after hearing it spoken out loud once.
  • It’s unique, memorable and instantly recognisable.

Watch this video for more useful advice on how to pick a strong domain name:

What’s better: a descriptive or a brandable name?

There’s no correct answer. It’s entirely up to you to decide if you want to go with:

  • A descriptive domain name like wine.com or travelbackpacks.com that tells users exactly what your business is about or what you have to offer before they even go on your website.
  • A brandable, original domain name like amazon.co.uk or pinterest.com. While it doesn’t explicitly spell out what your website is about, it’s unique, making it easier for you to turn it into a brand that’s memorable and instantly recognisable.

There are advantages and disadvantages for each, no matter which way you go. In this post you can learn more about the pros and cons of both brandable and descriptive domain names so you can decide for yourself on the best choice for your new website.

What if the name I want is taken?

You finally come up with a great name only to run a search and discover that someone else has snapped it up already.

This happens all the time, and it can be really frustrating.

So what can you do? If you just don’t want to give it up, you have a few options:

  • Get in touch with the site owner and make an offer to buy it. This post offers some useful tips on how to buy a domain that’s owned and how to negotiate a good deal.
  • Use a domain backordering service that monitors the web address for you and tries to register it for you as soon as it becomes available. The upside is that it can cost you less than buying it outright or in auction. The downside is that you can’t be sure when you’ll get your hands on it – or if you’ll get it at all.

Another option is to try to be flexible. So you didn’t get your first choice name. It happens more often than you think. What’s next? Put together a list of potential names based on the criteria above and work your way through them to see which one is available.

Should I buy a domain name if the equivalent username is taken on the social networks I use?

With social media playing such an important role in building awareness and a community around your brand, it’s only natural that you’d also want to use the social media handles that match your domain and brand name.

But getting your dream web address as well as equivalent usernames on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram can be like trying to pick all the winning numbers in a lottery.

Unfortunately, just like with domains, you may find that the equivalent username on the social networks you want to build a presence on isn’t available. What then?

Should you give up on that perfect name that you were planning to register and go through the entire process all over again?

We don’t recommend it, especially since it’s such a challenge to find a great name that’s just right for your site. Not to mention that your web address is likely to live much longer than most social networks.

So what can you do instead?

Be creative. Find simple ways to incorporate your brand name into your social media handle.

For example, if you’re selling just one product or service, or a specific category of products and services, add that to your handle alongside your brand name. If you’re targeting a specific country, add it to your social username.

While social media is a great tool to communicate with your audience and build a community of fans and loyal customers, you shouldn’t let it dictate your choice of domain name. It should be the other way around.

Which extension should I choose?

Should you go with .com or .uk? Does registering a domain name with one of these two popular extensions help your site to rank higher in the search engine results?

Here’s the thing: it’s not what comes after the dot that makes your site trustworthy and easier to find by users in the search results.

It’s the effort you put into building a site that’s fast and easy to use, publishing high-quality, relevant content, properly optimising your site following search engine optimisation best practices, and lots of other factors that have nothing to do with the extension you choose.

Sure, .com is the most popular extension but that’s both a benefit and a drawback for it. While most users feel comfortable with .com websites, that’s also what makes it so challenging and time-consuming to get the name you want.

Don’t be afraid to try other extensions.

For example, if you’re opening up a coffee business based exclusively in London, a .london web address can be an excellent choice for you. Want to expand across the UK or worldwide? Then consider a .coffee extension.

It’s not so much about the extension as it’s about what you make of it and how much effort you put into building a memorable brand experience that people can’t stop talking about. That’s what gets you noticed and at the top of the search engine results.

Check out the new creative extensions that you can register today at 123 Reg.

Should I register my domain name on more than one extension?

It depends on the type of site you wish to get online and what you’re looking to achieve.

For example, if it’s a hobby blog, you might not really need to get more than one extension.

But if you are a business or planning to turn your hobby into one, it’s always a good idea to secure your brand name across popular extensions or the extensions that have the highest awareness in your target markets. This prevents competitors from grabbing those domains and gaining visitors who were actually looking for you.

Can I buy a domain without web hosting?

Absolutely. If you have a great business idea that’s not yet ready to launch, you can secure your domain name now and work out the rest later.

This way you don’t lose your perfect name. And when you do feel ready to launch, you can buy web hosting and everything else you need to get your website up and running, and successful.

What’s next?

You can search for and register your domain at 123 Reg, and then pick up one of our lightning-fast, reliable web hosting plans.

Once you’ve secured your domain name, take a look at this useful guide with the next steps to follow to get your business online. Good luck!

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