Building a website as a start-up business – Finding your perfect domain name

by | Nov 22, 2021

It doesn’t matter what you do, you could be a freelance dance instructor, looking to sell homemade marmalade or setting up an online store, building a website as a start-up is one critical step that you must take if you’re a serious entrepreneur and want your business to succeed.

As a seasoned web company who’s worked on over 100s of client sites across all industries, one thing is key, having an engaging website that your customers will love is a must.  

The journey of building a website as a start-up is not an easy one, however, with a little forethought, the task becomes that much easier.

It’s important to invest the time and energy into your small business at the beginning to fully understand a few basics. Some first-time business owners think they have an idea and jump straight into building a website. 

Stop!

Think and do your homework:

Who you are as a business?
What do you offer? 
Who are your competitors are and are you competitive? 
What makes you special – why would a customer choose you? 
How will you delight your customers?
What is your short, media long term goals?
Do you have a plan on how to meet these goals?

Don’t be under any illusion, having a new shiny website is great, but once it’s online you’ll be competing against countless other websites out there, so this is why having a good plan, to begin with, is paramount.

So before diving headfirst, here are 4 key tips on choosing the perfect domain name and what to look out for. 

Getting a great domain name is a good starting point

Your website domain name is often the first impression your site makes. 

It’s important that it comes across as professional and easy to use for both SEO purposes, but also usability so you can get more visitors! 

Here are some tips on how to find an optimal web address before building your startup website:

1 – Choose a domain name that is easy to spell 

It may sound simple but when you are looking at what domain name to choose don’t try and overcomplicate it.

Look for domain names that you know people will be able to easily spell. 

Try not to use abbreviations and odd spellings as it could hamper people that have heard about your start-up business and search for your online by your name.

Let’s look at an example 

Firstly, let’s assume you own a business called Excite Adventures, which offers hands-on outdoor holidays. 

In an ideal world, you would hopefully opt for a domain that was something like exciteadventures.co.uk or .com.

When searching for a domain name, if you have found that the ideal domain isn’t available don’t be tempted to play with the company name. 

A bad choice of a domain name would be xciteadventures.co.uk, people will search for you by your proper name ‘Excite Adverntures’ but with your domain name being different it could be difficult to find you.

Probably a better option would be to opt for something like exciteadventureholidays.co.uk, it’s a bit longer but when searching people would put two and two together and hopefully find you.

2 – Keep your domain name short and sweet

Following on from the above point, in some cases, a longer domain name may be necessary, however, the shorter the domain you can find the better. 

If you think of some of the biggest companies in the world such as Google, Amazon, Tesla or McDonalds, they all have the luxury of being able to buy whatever domain they need as they have deep pockets. 

Some premium domains have been bought out there for some eye-watering sums such as cars.com selling for an unbelievable $872 million, yes you heard that right!!!! 

The average person building a website as a start-up and looking for their first domain name won’t have the ability to pay whatever for one.

The first starting point would be your business name and whether that is available.

Let’s use another example here:

Say you have a business name that is “Apex Farms & Livestock Ltd” or “ABC Accountancy & Bookkeeping Ltd”. 

Ideally, you wouldn’t want apexfarmandlivestockltd.co.uk or abcaccountancyandbookkeeping.co.uk, however, they are just too long and cumbersome. 

You could try a few of the following: 

  • Apexfarm
  • Apexfarms
  • Apexfarming 

Or in the other case:

  • Abcaccountancy
  • Abcaccountants
  • Abcfinancial 

In the last example, we know that in point one we said getting your name is the best option, but with a lot of domain names being registered over the years, you may have to opt for something that fits well. 

In this case, using the word ‘financial’ instead of ‘accountants’ or ‘accountancy’, when people find you they will make the connection. 

3 – Don’t use numbers, underscores or hyphens in domain names

Ask a few people what a hyphen is and some will end up scratching their heads. 

Imagine trying to tell a potential customer your web address,

“please visit our website which is www dot a hyphen b hyphen c hyphen accountants dot co dot uk” very confusing, especially if they don’t know what a hyphen is. 

You would then probably need to spend a few minutes trying to explain that a hyphen is a dash (they may know it as that), and where it is on most keyboards, or they may think that a hyphen is an underscore (horizontal line along the bottom). It becomes tedious. 

Likewise, numbers can pose a similar problem. 

For example, let’s say you have a business called 187 Restaurant and Cafe.

Someone calls up as they have heard great things about you and ask about your specials and you tell them to look online at the new menu.

You proceed to tell them that it’s 187restaurant.co.uk, but is that right or is it oneeightsevenrestaurant.co.uk. 

Or another example could be if your company is called DV8, which is a play on words, is that deviate.co.uk?

You will probably end up saying something like “It’s the letter D, then a V and then the number eight” so is that DVeight or DV8?

You can probably see that using numbers or special characters can pose challenges. 

Try and stick to a business name that you know will be easy to give people that they will instantly understand.

4 – Domain extensions such as .co.uk and .com

In simplistic terms they are the end part of a web address after the name, the .co.uk part as an example.

When the internet was first set up there were only a few domain name extensions out there, which were normally the country extensions,  for example .co.uk – UK, .es – Spain and .com for the US. 

Fast forward today and there are literally hundreds of them, .me, .org, .uk, .io, .shop etc.

This poses two problems for a business looking to get its first website online. 

Firstly, people naturally have known the major extensions such as .co.uk and .com for a very long time and trust them more than say a relatively new one. In fact a recent study found that 70% of people don’t trust newer website domains

The second issue is that if you do find the ideal newer domain extension such as .io, .me etc. there is a reason that these have been created as the majority of the traditional domain extensions have already been taken.

So let’s say you buy abcaccounts.me, I would bet that there is already a .co.uk, a .com website connected to them. With that name people may go on the .co.uk version, they offer accountancy and think it’s you. 

You can see the problem with securing a newer domain extension. 

Summary: 

By now you probably have a good idea of how to pick a great domain name when building a website as a start-up. It’s very important, it’s one asset that will probably be with the business as long as you’re trading so spend the time to really thing about what name you decide upon. 

Below is a quick overview of things to keep in mind. 

  • Try and stick to traditional domain extensions like .co.uk or .com. Although there are many domain extensions now such as .store, .cloud, .cc, .page etc. People tend to feel more comfortable with traditional ones helping build trust.
  • It may sound obvious but try and get a domain name that is either the same as your business name or what you do. 
  • Check online to ensure that no other company is selling similar products with the same name but with a different domain extension.
  • Think about the future of your company too and how it may grow. A good example would be a company that sells vegan lipsticks, they could opt for a domain name of veganlipsticks.co.uk which would be totally fine today, although two years later they could have expanded their range to other cosmetics and clothing, so the original domain doesn’t fit that well anymore. It would have been better to have a domain name such as veganlife.co.uk to begin with which is more encompassing.
  • Keep it memorable and has a strong brand identity.
  • Avoid strange names that don’t match your products or services. 
  • If you’re a local based business such as a plumber, electrician or landscaper you could include the location in the domain name such as londonplumber.co.uk
  • Finally, there is cost, do research and look at what names are available, many popular domain names will already be taken if you want to purchase them from an owner they could be very expensive.

We hope this quick article has helped you find your perfect domain name, being a new business owner you’ll have plenty to think about but hopefully this has set you on the right path.

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