Every business in the UK wanting to do business online needs to register a domain name at some point and almost all of them will frustratingly discover that the domain they would have liked has already been claimed.

It is hugely irritating for the aspiring entrepreneur, but made even worse when the person who owns that domain is not even using it. Domain names are a valuable business commodity. A domain can be likened to real estate; it is limited in supply and as the population of online business increases, so does the value of the domain.

The reasons for getting the right domain name

There are various steps to take when selecting and registering a domain name. Although it is important, the process doesn’t just stop at picking a name that you like which ‘fits’ your brand. It is essential for businesses to protect themselves while creating every chance possible to attract traffic to their site.

A proven way to do this is to register multiple extensions such as ‘.org’ and ‘.net’ in addition to the extension you have already chosen for your online business. By doing this you will be able to capture more visitors for your site as even if they have typed the wrong web address, traffic can be diverted to the correct site.

Registering multiple extensions also minimises the chances for a competitor to register a similar domain name to your business. This will stop visitors searching for your site being distracted by a similar looking web address.

Additionally it can be beneficial to look to the future, you may only be starting out, but will there be potential for your company to grow outside of the UK? If so, it’s a good idea to register a ‘.com’ or ‘.net’ domain name alongside ‘.co.uk’, so the name is there, ready, for any future expansion.

What makes a premium domain name?

While the variation of domain names is almost infinite, it is only the “premium’” domains that go up in value. For example, “Books.co.uk” will continue to increase in value while “ez-books-1234.co.uk” will rise much more slowly (if at all).

The disappointing reality normally strikes when our new business owner excitedly offers to buy a domain only to be presented with a five or six figure price tag. This leaves our entrepreneur with two options:

  • Buy the premium domain; or
  • Register a new domain that has no meaning but one they hope to build a brand around.

Thousands of hugely successful businesses have been created around non-topic specific domains names. Just think of Google, Yahoo, Amazon, Groupon – to name a few. These businesses have had to invest massively in branding in order to build the name from a random term to the association it has today.

The clever entrepreneur will now be considering who is investing in premium domain names and questioning how they identify future trends.

Getting a keyword rich domain

Premium domain names have been given the ‘premium’ rating as they are already registered domains which are now available for resale. These names are often short and made up of memorable words including key search terms.

Domains including search terms are considered premium as the name exactly describes the product found on the website. Having a premium domain name gives you a competitive advantage in search engines, such as Google, due to the “exact match” between the domain name keywords and the popular Google search phrases.

There really are only two ways to go if you want to build a large online business. You can get the perfect match domain name or you can invest millions building up a brand like Groupon.

Investing in additional domain names

The domain names market is big business and it’s good to be aware of how many people out there could be looking at the same domains as you. As a consequence, this could mean that you’ll be spending a lot for the name you want. Similarly, the domains market is a money earner for some investors, as they buy up names at a cheap rate that they anticipate could be desirable to a business in the future.

Andreas Voniatis owner of the SEO Agency AlchemyV, has been fortunate enough to sell domains during the domain name “land rush” for a massive return on investment.

“I’d purchased a bingo related domain name that I really liked the sound of. I built a small website and was then approached by a large gaming company looking for a new UK brand. I decided to ask for my dream price and I was shocked when they settled for a five figure sum. A fantastic return on the £7 domain purchased only two years earlier,” says Andreas.

Greg Platz is the CEO of Fabulous.com, a public company in Australia, and one of the largest professional domain name companies in the world. “Domain names are big business and major brands know the value of the right domain name,” he says. Fabulous.com now hosts and monitors more than 5 million domains, as well as a huge resale website fabulousdomains.com.

But is it all in the name?

Having the right domain name is not the only key to a highly profitable business. We have found success through turning a premium domain into a leading brand. Customer engagement is crucial for any online business to ensure customers know you offer the services they want. This is essential to reduce the chance of visitors being lead astray, which can easily happen in the hugely competitive world of the web.

But of course, the first thing people remember is a name – whether that’s because they’ve been faced with fantastic branding, a quirky name that stands out or a ‘perfect match’ domain and that’s certainly something worth considering when starting on online business.