A businesses domain (eg company.co.uk) is the key to online communications, branding and customer contact. It unlocks access to professional-grade email, gives customers a recognisable website address, and makes your organisation discoverable across the internet.
One thing often overlooked is the importance of registering not just a primary domain, but also other important related ones.
The TLD (top-level domain) is the end part of a domain name. Common ones include .co.uk, .com, and .org. One thing often overlooked by organisations is that registering a domain with a particular TLD does not automatically give the organisation the rights to the same domain at a different TLD.
In effect, the internet treats yourcompany.co.uk and yourcompany.com as completely different entities. There is nothing to prevent someone, even a competitor, from taking your domain name and registering it with a different TLD.
The dangers of someone having your domain include:
- Emails going astray – A customer may try emailing your business using a different TLD than what you have registered. With the messages potentially going to whoever has that domain.
- Customer confusion – Potential customers not sure if they are dealing with the right company.
- Impersonation – Someone deliberately copying your website and business to attract customers, or put people off.
It is possible to appeal against someone using your domain, or one similar, however it can be a slow process with no guarantee of success. That’s why it is important for organisations to operate a proper domain name strategy.
Developing a domain name strategy helps protect your organisation. It isn’t enough to register a single domain on one TLD, instead companies need to consider a range of domain options:
Companies who operate in different geographic markets should consider registering their domain name in all the TLDs for countries they serve. This helps local customers find your business, and prevents other companies from sweeping in and getting the domain.
Some registrations specify a business needs to have an office, or at least a mailing address, within the country before a TLD can be registered (eg .fr and .de) so your organisation may need to consider the practicalities involved.
Misspellings and variations
People can easily mistype your domain name, or get the spelling wrong and many businesses choose to register popular misspellings to help customers.
Google Webmaster Tools, or other similar services, show which search results a website appeared in, providing a simple way of finding out what misspellings people are using for your organisation.
Businesses that are serious about protecting the online identity, and improving communications with customers, need an effective domain name strategy.
Domain registration is usually a low-cost affair, and proper management will ensure only the domains necessary are registered (rather than trying to register every possible domain and TLD variation).
Other cost issues surround how to use multiple domains during normal business operations. Businesses with multiple domains prefer it when customers can email employees using any valid domain, and have every domain resolve to a website.
A robust hosted email platform will provide an option for mailboxes to receive messages from multiple domains, using aliases. This means firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com can go to the same inbox, without incurring extra costs.
For web hosting, redirects can make company.com and company.co.uk point to the same website. Alternatively some companies choose to have different websites for different TLDs, allowing them to provide a more local website (in terms of pricing, language, and products offered).
To keep web hosting costs under control, you should select a business web hosting service that allows for multiple domains, each pointing to a different website, to be hosted for a single charge.
Is your domain available?
Registering a domain is something every organisation, or individual, who wants to control their online identity should do. Start by checking if your chosen domain name is available with our simple domain checker tool.