What is a domain name?
A domain name is the name of your website (e.g. webhosting.uk.com) and is essential because the name is linked to your site’s IP address. This is how search engines find and browsers connect to your site. Before your website can go live on the internet, you will first need to buy a domain name.
How do domain names work?
While people find it easy to remember and use domain names, computers work better with numbers. For this reason, websites have both a domain name and an associated IP address (a series of numbers separated by dots, e.g. 126.96.36.199). If someone types a domain name in a search engine or clicks on a link, the device will use the Domain Name System (DNS) to find the site’s associated IP address. With these numbers, it can then locate and connect with the web server on which the website is hosted.
This dual system has been developed so that accessing the internet works fine for both people and computers.
What is a domain extension?
Domains have two parts to them. The part before the dot is the domain name, (e.g. your brand name) and the part which follows the dot is the domain extension, also known as the Top Level Domain or TLD (e.g. .com, .net, .org).
The domain extension helps put your website into a category that makes it easier for internet users to understand. They can categorise websites by location (e.g. .uk, .fr, .london), or by type of organisation (e.g. .accountant, .co, .gov) or even both (e.g. .co.uk).
Today there are over 200 different TLDs available to choose from, making it easier than ever to find the perfect domain name for your brand.
Can I use symbols and punctuation in my domain name?
Unfortunately, not. With the exception of a hyphen (e.g. my-website), the domain naming system forbids the use of either symbols or punctuation. Numbers, however, are allowed.
Should I register multiple TLD versions of my website?
Registering multiple versions of your website (e.g. mywebsite.com, mywebsite.co.uk, mywebsite.net) can be helpful. It can prevent other businesses from using your brand name and stop cybercriminals from setting up cloned sites with similar URLs in order to defraud your customers.
You may also find that registering different country TLDs may help your website gain more customers in those countries. For example, UK customers may prefer to buy from yourwebsite.co.uk while French customers prefer to shop at yourwebsite.fr.
Today, besides international domains, you can also register more local geographic TLDs, such as .london and even show your company’s reach with TLDs like .global.
What happens if my domain expires? Can I still renew it?
Generally, you register a domain for either one or two years. After this point, you can either renew your registration or let it expire. If you need to keep your domain name, it is vital that you do not let your registration expire as this would allow someone else to buy it. To protect you from this, we set up auto-renewals so that your registration will continue uninterrupted. However, you can always turn off auto-renewal if you no longer want the domain name and wish to let it expire.
If you let the domain name expire and then change your mind, you would need to register it again quickly before someone else.
How long does it take for my domain to start working?
You can register and secure your domain name in minutes; however, the time it takes for your domain to start working will depend on the domain you have chosen. (For exclusions to this or for other domain questions, please contact our sales or billing team.)
What happens to my domain if I move my website elsewhere?
You can either choose to continue using our DNS service and have us direct visitors to the server which hosts your website or change your domain nameservers entirely. When you change your domain nameservers, it can take up to 48 hours for those changes to take effect. (Usually just a couple of hours.)
Can I get a refund on a domain?
Unfortunately, once a domain is registered, it remains registered for the time selected. As such, the cost cannot be refunded. This does not affect your statutory rights.
How can I hide my information from the WHOIS record?
If you are registering a .uk domain and registering the domain for non-commercial use, you can elect to opt out of having your personal details listed within Whois.
For all other domains, you should consider adding our Domains Privacy Protection with your domain for a small, additional, annual fee. This service, which is fully compliant with ICANN rules, protects your identity by replacing your contact information with ours. If we receive any correspondence addressed to you, we will forward it to you free of charge.
What general tips can you give me to help choose a domain name?
Getting the right domain name can make a big difference to the success of your online venture. While much of this depends on your brand and the type of website you run, there are one or two helpful tips you might consider.
- Using a keyword in your domain name can help people recognise the type of business you are if your name doesn’t give them a clue, e.g. smithsbuilders.com makes it obvious that Smiths is a building company. It can also be useful in helping search engines identify your website as being relevant for searches that contain the keyword.
- If you are a local business, you could always include your location in the domain name to help locals know where you are based, e.g. smithshalifax.com. You could even use smithsbuildershalifax.com – however, the longer the domain name, the easier it is for users to forget or make mistakes when typing it. The limit is 63 characters.
- Some companies choose to name their company after their domain name instead of the other way around so they can benefit from using a combination of local and business-related keywords, for example, claddingkent.co.uk or norwichsolicitors.com.