Everything you wanted to ask about Domain Names.

What is a Domain Name?

A domain name is the address of your website (ebay.com is an example of a domain name). It is something like a P.O. Box it’s a unique identifier for a website, where by anyone who attempts to contact that address is directed to your website.

I bought the name why do I need hosting?

Hosting is the physical service where your website resides, it’s the hard drives and technology that stores and transmits your site. The domain name is pointed to your hosting so when the name is typed in it’s your website that is shown.  The domain name is like a postal address while hosting is the building where communications to that address are dealt with.

The quality of your hosting will affect how quickly and securely your website data is transmitted. Cheap hosting might seem attractive but if your website doesn’t arrive at the viewer’s browser within 10 seconds you might as well kiss their custom goodbye.

Likewise if you are an online retailer security is imperative. Customers have to trust you and your service completely before they will think of using their credit card and so higher grade of hosting with security becomes crucial.

The .com / .co.uk debate

Originally the .com was intended as the name for an American commercial business site while the .co.uk was to be the British equivalent (Indeed you’ll notice that big companies like eBay and Amazon run their sites in this fashion).

However things have evolved to where it is almost irrelevant. If someone knows your company name but not the suffix they might well guess you are .com first and then try .co.uk next, this allows someone to purchase the .com version of your successful co.uk and potentially capture business intended for you or place malicious content that can harm your reputation.

Purchasing both will avoid this and both can point to the same website seamlessly, of course you now have to pay for two domain names instead of one.

There are also a myriad of other suffixes you can obtain (.net .biz .tv .info .ltd.uk) but these are far less likely to be of use and rarely worth the cost of purchase and renewal. It’s notable that the new .uk domain becomes available in 2014 and its popularity might well lead it to replace the .co.uk suffix… however you might not recall the original .gb code for the UK which simply fell into disuse as companies settled on the catchier .co.uk, only time will tell.

How do I choose the right name for me?

Choosing the right name is a far more complex task than you might appreciate (ask the good people at Pen Island, Odds Extractor, Experts Exchange). When purchasing a name you might want to factor in your companies name but not to replicate it word for word.

Think of some of the most famous website you know, they will often include short single words that are easy to remember, spell and communicate via speech and text (eBay, Amazon, Tesco).

You can also make up a new word or try alternative spellings the down side of this is the result can be difficult to spell or remember. Say you use ‘Werks’ instead of ‘Works’ it might make a unique name but people will instinctively type ‘works’ first and the spelling is not implied when you simply speak it.

Another approach is a short phrase using similarly easy to remember and communicate words (e.g. MoonPig, FunkyPidgeon, WeBuyAnyCar).

You want your customers to easily understand and spell your sites name over the phone so they get to your site first time. Here are some do’ and don’ts.

What to avoid:

  • Hyphens (cumbersome to pronounce and type)
  • Unnecessary words (e.g. limited, and, associates) keep it concise
  • Abbreviations (assoc, ltd) can cause confusion when spoken
  • Unfortunate misreading when words run together (you can capitalise the name for clarity)
  • Numbers (without spelling it out you can’t tell if the number is a word or a figure)
  • Unusual and difficult to spell words.

What to look for:

  • Readability
  • Memorability
  • Unmistakeable Pronunciation


Bear in mind just because you find the perfect domain for you it doesn’t mean it is available for purchase. For example there are no three letter domain names unpurchased i.e. they have been bought up in the hopes someone will pay a lot of money for them.

Be careful while searching for available names as unscrupulous suppliers might register a name you have searched for before you decide to buy it yourself in order to charge you more.

Just because no website appears when you try to browse a site doesn’t mean it’s not registered. Domains can be registered and not be pointed to hosting so they can appear to be free. The way to tell the true status of a domain name is what’s known as a Whois lookup. For UK domains Nominet’s own whois page is ideal for safe domain name checking. Simply type in the domain (e.g. “google.co.uk”) and search. If the name is purchased you’ll get the registrants details, if not… then it’s free for purchase.

How do I Buy a Domain name?

When you buy a co.uk address you will typically purchase it via a 3rd party company who register it for you with Nominet (the domain name registrar for all co.uk domain names). They should register it in your name (rather than their own), take payment and notify you when renewals are due.

The process is very similar for a .com address and indeed many registering sites will do both for you in one simple transaction.


Comgem registers domains for its customers at cost, so if you are thinking of taking your business online come talk with us and let us get you online.

By Alanna at 14 Mar 2014, 13:49 PM