Choosing a domain name

Domain name structure

What follows is what you need to know as a business owner – for more detailed information about domain names see Wikipedia.

The name you choose will have an ending – here's a quick guide:

Quick guide to domain name endings

The common generic or global endings are:

.comcommercial organisations
.org non-profit organisations
.net organisations involved in networking technologies like internet service providers (ISPs) though widely ‘abused’
.infofor informative resources

but you can also get things like:

.biz an alternative to .com for business use
.aero aviation-related websites
.coop for co-operatives

Then you can get country-dependent domain names like:

.uk United Kingdom
.nz New Zealand
.me Macedonia
.co Colombia
.tv Tuvalu

and some of these countries have found a way of minting a fortune by making these names generally available.

Each country has its own domain name authority or registry that manages the second-level domains, so you can get: UK commercial New Zealand commercial Australian commercial Taiwanese non-profit
.us US citizens and organisations, organisations with a US presence

Thinking of a name

Here are a few considerations and pointers:

  • brand – a distinctive name by which you are known
  • call to arms –
  • your name – you are or will be sufficiently well known to be readily identified
  • juxtapositions – when your company name is run together – such as
  • location – if you only want to work in a particular area (eg bed and breakfast), including the location will be a good idea
  • cross-language – if you are going to be a multilingual website, then you don't necessarily want something that means something in one language and nothing in another, or worse something rude or negative in a particular language eg nova in English sounds reasonable but in Spain no va may not be ideal.

Once you have thought of a name or two

  1. Check it out (using a search engine if necessary):
    • see if it’s taken by someone else (most likely)
    • do a whois lookup with or similar to see if it's been taken but hasn't got a website (ie it's not showing up in a web search)
    • is it similar to a website with which you don't want to be associated eg porn (this can happen)
    • is available in both your country and globally (see cybersquatting below)
  2. Register the name
    • For maximum control – but this requires willingness to learn some of the technicalities of domain names and be aware of the expiry date – register the name with a registrar like, Fees and the quality of the dashboards do vary between providers and we do not endorse any particular one.
    • or if you don't want to do that, your web design agency can probably do it for you, but we don’t recommend this as the domain name is going to be part of your brand