.co.uk or .com ? Or .net or .org ? .biz or .info? Confused ? Read on.
Domain names and countries
All domain names, whether .co.uk or .com or whatever, are visible and accessible throughout the world. Domain names such as .co.uk and .ltd.uk are just as valid as .com and .net. A .co.uk domain name suggests that you are based in the UK, while similarly, .it suggests you are based in Italy and .de suggests you are based in Germany. .com, .net and .org are known as 'global' domains. They are available to anyone in the world and in theory they do not belong to any single country. However, they are often referred to incorrectly as US domains.
Which type of domain name should I register?
Traditionally, . com and .co.uk etc are for businesses, .net has been for Internet related businesses, and .org or .org.uk have been for 'non-profit making' organisations, such as charities. In addition to the ability to register .com and .co.uk names, privately limited companies in the UK may register .ltd.uk domain names, and publicly limited companies in the UK may register .plc.uk names. These require the registering company to supply their company registration number. This ensures that your company will always be able to register a domain name with your company name, such as 'yourcompany.ltd.uk', even if the 'yourcompany.com' and 'yourcompany.co.uk' names have been taken.
We would suggest that where possible, you should look firstly for an available .com name and the matching .co.uk name. Ideally, you should register both if you can, as many people often forget whether your company is a .com or a .co.uk. Having both names pointing to your website will ensure that people never miss you online.
If you cannot find a suitable .com / .co.uk domain name, you can register .org / .org.uk or .biz or .info instead. These are increasing in popularity as the number of good, available .com and .co.uk domain names are taken.
What name should I use?
Try to register your company name, but be aware that you may not be the only business trading under that name. Also consider using a product or service you provide, such as 'golfclubs.co.uk'. These are generic domain names and are very popular among domain name traders / speculators, so many of these will have been taken.
What if my desired domain name is already taken?
You may well find your desired domain name has been taken by another business or domain name trader. If so, and if the domain name taken is a registered trademark, then you may be able to protest to the registration authorities (see Dispute Policy). Regardless of any potential domain name dispute, you should proceed and register another domain name.
Variations of domain names
It may help to register variants and mis-spellings of your domain name as well. For example, if your business name is 'Tinytown Bus Company Ltd', it may be worth buying 'tinytownbus.com', 'tinytownbuses.com', 'tinytownbusco.com' and so on. Also consider the use of hyphens when trying to register domain names. Why not register 'tinytown.com' and 'tiny-town.com'?
Whatever you decide, the sooner you register a domain name, the better.