If you are considering buying a domain name then...
Let us guide you through the process, help you choose the best name(s) for your project. But that's not all, we will ensure your name registration doesn't lapse, we will provide help with setting up web hosting and email accounts.
If the name you'd like is not available but not in productive use then you may be able to buy it from the current owner. That's not necessarily expensive but owners of even quite mundane names will expect a few hundred pounds and some attract astronomic valuations. The only way to value of a name is to make a realistic hard-headed assessment of its value to you. You must be prepared to say no if a seller is asking to much.
If the name you'd like is available you need to think carefully about whether it could attract a legal challenge. A few years ago a gentleman called Michael Rowe, a software developer, bought MikeRoweSoft.com and found himself in a dispute with a company with a name which, while spelt differently, sounded the same. I believe the outcome was in his favour, they opted for the sensible choice of offering him a sum he couldn't refuse rather than pay vast sums to lawyers and get bad press for looking like the playground bullies. At the time of writing Apple Inc have challenged a Polish grocery chain for their use of the domain name a.pl - that may seem a long stretch for any confusion but the cost of defending the case could wipe out a small company faced with the might of a massive one. If you'd like to buy Mike-Rowe-Soft.com it's available! Do you want to take the risk? A clever salesman may persuade you to buy a name under one of the less common suffixes (known as TLDs, Top Level Domains). Don't be taken in. Variants like .net .org .me and others are supposed to be reserved for particular purposes and are not familiar to most web users and if you bought example.org the owners or example.com could make a legal challenge.
Domain names are a diminishing resource. Single word domains are uniquely scarce and valuable, insure.com sold for USD16M. Over 150M .com names have been registered, increasing at about 5% p.a. and the low cost of name renewal means that relatively few are allowed to lapse. The .uk registry is at around 10M names and growing by about 10% p.a.
For UK based organisations preference for .uk remains strong with 81% of those surveyed saying they prefer .uk sites when presented with a choice of a .uk or .com in search results. The main reasons given were that it would be more likely to be a UK based company and have more relevance with prices in sterling and acceptable delivery charges and timescales.
Having key words relevant to the content of a web site in the domain name is widely believed to confer significant advantage in search engine results.
Pairs of names: .co.uk and .com variants block competitors from obtaining a closely similar name and leeching off some of your traffic.
Hyphenated variants serve the same purpose but in addition avoid confusion and provide better key word information to search engines (classic domain name errors include powergen-italia.com, who-represents.com, therapist-finder.com and experts-exchange.com which could be split/interpreted in a very different way were the hyphen omitted). Our recommendation is that your website be located under the hyphenated name (for the benefit of the search engines) and the un-hyphenated name should be set to redirect traffic there. On printed materials some people prefer to use camel-case to highlight the individual words in a domain name e.g. GourmetSheffield.co.uk - this is a perfectly acceptable and helpful practise, the effect is identical to gourmetsheffield.co.uk
Most website hosting services will treat www.GourmetSheffield.co.uk and GourmetSheffield.co.uk as the same but some do still require the www. prefix (and will show an error if it is omitted).
You will have seen names with different prefixes like shop.GourmetSheffield.co.uk If you own the domain name you can run separate web sites under as many of those different prefixes as you choose to invent! It can be a useful way of separating different functional elements of your overall web-presence. For example if you owned a generic name like GourmetFood.co.uk you might be able to sell subdomains to (perhaps franchised) shops in different localities like Sheffield.GourmetFood.co.uk, Leeds.GourmetFood.co.uk
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