Every website starts with a domain name.
Before you start thinking about building a website, you need to decide on which domain name is best for you and your business. For many, it can sometimes be frustrating trying to find the right domain name that is not already registered by someone else.
In this guide, we are going to walk you through the process of how to buy a UK domain name. The best place to purchase your domain name, and what to do if your desired domain name not available.
What is a Domain Name?
Simply put, a domain name is your address on the internet, that is unique to you. One registered no one else will be able to register that domain name unless you let it expire
A domain name on its own it just that, to set up a website or email address you will also need to purchase a web hosting service.
When choosing a domain name, you will need to decide on the name itself along with the extension. For example, you may select YourBusinessName.com.
Your domain name should reflect your brand or business as closely as possible. Alternatively, you may choose to use a combination of keywords to reflect your business such as BoltonPlumber.com
Choosing a Domain Extension
A domain extension is the end part of your domain i.e. .com, .co.uk, .uk etc. Along with the common extensions above, you can choose from hundreds of options.
Great if your chosen name is not available in one of the more conventional extensions. However, don’t get too carried away. While you may be able to get a great one-word domain name such as Plumber.ws or Plumber.rocks, it may be sticking with convention depending on how well your userbase will understand your chosen extension.
Cleaver marketing or something that fits in with your market can work exceptionally well. Energy supplier Octopus, use the domain name Octopus.energy with great success.
The decision is down to you and how well your customers will take your desired domain name.
Where is the Best Place to Buy a Domain Name?
To buy a domain name, you will need to go through a domain registration provider. A domain registration provider will not only register your chosen domain name on your behalf but also allow you to manage aspects such as web hosting or email services.
A domain registration provider can either be a hosting company or a separate registration service.
If you want to secure just your domain name, we would recommend either of the following companies:
- Regularly Rated Cheapest UK Domain Registrar.
- Low Cost Registration & Renewals.
- 1 Year .uk registration just £1.00!
Both companies offer low-cost initial registration and renewals. Both Names.co.uk and Namecheap, regularly come top in our cheapest domain registration rundown.
Where to Buy a Domain Name With Web Hosting?
If you plan to set up a website straight away, then you can also buy a domain name with hosting. Many of the web hosting providers will provide you with free domain name registration with hosting as part of the package.
It is worth reading the terms of how long the domain is ‘free’ for as many providers will offer the first year for free then charge renewals at a higher rate. These packages that include a free domain are usually provided on the yearly packages.
Companies such as Krystal offer a free domain for the life of the plan on their Ruby and Saphire packages.
Should I Buy a Domin Name With My Web Hosting Provider or Separate Company?
Deciding to register your domain name with your web hosting provider or not is down to personal preference. Many will argue that it is better to keep the two sperate. Personally, I still keep the two sperate.
The reason I choose to do this is if the hosting provider were to close, I would still have control of my domain name. The other reason is I can easily move my domains if a provider increases their renewal fees.
In saying that, I can also see the benefit of keeping the two in the same place. One advantage of this is you can also then manage both aspects (domain & hosting) of your website from the same control panel.
Whilst it may initially be cheaper to register your domain name as part of a hosting package depending on the hosting provider you choose, it can cost more at time of renewal.
Check the prices the company charges for renewal. However, if you want to take advantage of promotional offers such as free domain registration with your web hosting, there it is perfectly acceptable to have the two with the same company.
Does it Matter Where you Buy a Domain Name?
You may be concerned if it matters where you buy your domain name. Generally, as long as you are happy with the pricing (including renewal costs). Then no, it does not matter.
The control panel between providers will be different; however, what you can do in terms of managing your domain will be the same.
Most providers try to make their control panels easy to use. Easy to use control panels cut down on unnecessary support requests. Everyone is different, so finding one that you get on personally with is a matter of opinion.
What is the Cheapest Way to Buy a Domain Name?
Try to avoid making a decision based purely on promotional prices. Any savings tend to be lost when it comes to renewal. Look at a provider that offers low-cost registration as well as renewals.
We continuously analyse domain registration pricing to bring you the cheapest providers each month.
Alternatively, you may want to compare the prices of domain registration services in the UK.
Claiming A Free Domain Name
As we mentioned above, most of our recommended web hosting providers will provide you with a free domain name registration when you sign up to a yearly paid web hosting package. Please choose from our list of web hosting providers that offer free domain registration as part of their package to claim your domain and many more free bonuses such as advertising credits and free website builders.
We hope this article has proven useful in helping you find that perfect domain name for your business. I’ve tried to cover all aspects to help you find the right domain name but welcome your comments and feedback!
What if your preferred name is taken?
Suppose you are looking to register your name but find that your preferred name has already been taken. Depending on the circumstances, there are several options you have, including:
- Using your registered company name within the domain
- Registering an alternative extension .com, co, .co or .uk
- An alternative that is relevant & easy to remember.
- Use a Domain Broker Server to try and acquire the domain for you.
In my personal opinion, if you run a UK company targeted to a UK audience, then you should always try to register your business domain name as a .co.uk and if your lucky, the .com extension of your desired domain name.
Again, if the .com is available, then I believe it’s always worth registering the .com version even if you plan to use and promote the .co.uk or .uk version. The .com is still the most recognised domain extension in the world, even with the explosion of other domain extensions.
Not sure whether to choose a .co.uk or .uk? Why not read our guide on what the difference between .co.uk and .uk.
The most critical aspect of choosing the right domain is registering something easy to remember. If a visitor lands on your website and gets distracted, would your domain name be easy enough for that visitor to remember, so the visitor can type it in the address bar and return to your website? If you register a domain name which includes a hyphen (-) or words that are hard to pronounce or spell, then you are making it harder for people to remember your domain.
If you entirely run out of ideas & no reasonable domain is available to register, then you may find it useful to view domain auctions. You should expect to pay a little extra for domains at auction, and you should expect to spend a lot more for domains that have an established online presence. This is a great way to find domain names that are relevant to your products & services. You may also find several domains that have existing traffic allowing you to take advantage of a previously established website.
You can find existing domain names to buy at auction on websites such as GoDaddy. GoDaddy is the internets largest provider of domain registrations, and millions of domains are due to expire, or premium domain names are available to purchase. You must become a member of GoDaddy and pay a small fee to access the auctions. You can then bid on domain names relevant to your products/services and try to outbid all other bidders.
Expired Domain Names
Alternatively, you can also find expired domain names or domains that are due to expire using tools available on the internet. Although you may pay to access the lists of expired domains, it can be a very valuable way to claim an established domain that has existing traffic or even authority within the search engines which provides you with a better search engine ranking.