Diving into the world of domain names is a complicated affair. It’s impossible to grasp everything at once. Like everything else to do with running your own website, you have to have a little patience, and be willing to research and learn.

Your domain name might not seem to have a big effect on your website, but it does. Knowing about how domain names work, and being able to pick the right one, is an important part of web design and making an online success of your site.

First of all, when you’re getting involved with domain names, there are some terms you need to become familiar with:

URL: A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is the address of the web page, e.g. www.diligentdesign.co.uk/blog. The ‘domain name’ generally refers to the top level domain, e.g. www.diligentdesign.co.uk, although many people use the two interchangeably.

Registrars: These are the people you want to get to know when registering your domain. They are the organisations that are empowered to register domains. It’s important to check on the reputation of the registrars you’re considering or take advice from someone like your web designer who will likely have dealt with many.

IP address: This is the number assigned to any device participating on a computer network, e.g. 163.24.56.183. For the internet, it is a unique number that is assigned to a computer to identify where it is on the internet. This is very different to a domain name, in much the same way that your office address is different to your business name: both identify you, but in different ways.

Redirects: These are codes used to change the location of web pages. When you get a new domain, these can be used to redirect traffic from your old pages and it’s important to do so correctly as there are several types of redirects.

MX record: Okay, we’re getting into fairly technical territory here, but it’s important to have a rough idea of what these are. The MX (Mail Exchange) records of a domain name set out how email should be dealt with in relation to your domain. There are other related resource records, such as A (Address) records, but suffice to say that these have to do with how your email is handled via your domain. This is an important issue to discuss with your designer if you plan on using an email system attached to your domain.

5 domain name tips you shouldn’t miss out on:

  1. Older domains are better. The older your domain is, the more likely it is that you’ll appear higher in Google searches. Of course, there’s a lot more involved in getting to the top of Google’s results, but domain age is a trust factor.
    If you have the chance to purchase an existing domain, check the domain’s history first. Buying a banned domain is not going to get you anywhere.
  2. Choose something you can live with. Registering your business name might seem like a good idea, but it doesn’t always have the right marketing angle.
  3. Register your own domain: Many businesses find it easier to let their web designer or online agency purchase their domain name. When your designer owns your domain name, they can keep ownership even when you end your relationship with them. This is a bad enough scenario, but businesses have got into even worse trouble when their designer has gone out of business, taking the domain name with them. By all means, let a designer or agency purchase the domain name for you, but ensure it will be in your name, so you own it.
  4. Go local: Having a .co.uk address can be valuable for marketing purposes.
  5. Finally, when purchasing a domain, research. It’s important to find a reputable domain name registrar. Look around to see who is recommended.
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