Buying Domain Names

Your domain name, is essentially your address on the internet. This is the name people find you by, and should ideally be a name very closely associated with your brand.

Where to buy your domain name from:

There are countless companies on the internet, through who you can buy your domain name with. Some are great, some are questionable, some are out to overcharge. These companies are known as a ‘Domain Name Registrar’.

www.heartinternet.co.uk are a company I tend to use the most myself, as Parlour Design has all our main websites hosted with Heart Internet on behalf of our clients, and the domain names are pretty cheap too.

www.1and1.com are one company I generally hear lots of good things about. They tend to be one of the cheapest for buying the domain originally (without too much in the way of ‘hidden’ charges). And their hosting packages aren’t so bad either.

www.123-reg.co.uk are a company I used to use a lot, however, after a bit of a change in management, and a few changes to their server technology, I’ve been let down a few times by their systems not working as expected.

Domain Registry of AmericaAVOID THESE COMPLETELY The DRoA.com (also known as ‘Domain Renewal Services’ and with an American Flag on their envelope) are a heavily documented bad provider of domain names. They have a tendency to use unscrupulous tactics to take control of your domain name, and then charge well over the odds to maintain it for you. You can read a little more about the DRoA on Wikipedia. Essentially, if you have a .com or a .net domain name, they are highly likely to contact you by post, warning you to renew with them. They’ve also now started sending ‘domain transfer completion notices’ via email‘ when high traffic websites point their domain to a new location. If you get ANY sort of contact from them, just ignore it / delete it / shred it. If you’ve already responded to their request, try to block or cancel your request immediately (contact your existing registrar if you can). If you’re too late for that, and your domain has already been transferred to them (by your direct actions only, not by what they try to tell you has happened), be prepared for higher costs, and even higher costs to get out of it.

Domain Name Extensions

The domain name extension, is the few letters at the end of the domain (ie .com, or .co.uk).
The main (and generally most wanted) are the .com domain extensions. However, due to their massive worldwide popularity, it’s now almost impossible to buy a catchy short .com domain without buying it from someone else at a premium price.
.co.uk is particularly targeted at the UK market (however, unfortunately that hasn’t stopped some people from overseas, buying domain names, with the .co.uk domain extension, to pretend they’re based in the UK). If you’re a UK based company or business, a .co.uk domain name may well be your best opportunity for a great domain.
.eu is also a relatively new domain name, for companies based in Europe.
You can also choose from .net, .org, .biz, .info, which are other popular ‘generic’ top level domain names, relatively well known and reasonably priced.
.name, .tel, .me, .tv and .mobi may also be suitable for you, however, these tend to come at more of a premium price.

How much to pay?

Once again, there are huge variations in price between where you buy your domain name from, and how much it costs. The following table lists some of the most common prices of the main domain name extensions:

Domain Extension: Typical Low Price:
co.uk, .me.uk, .org.uk £3.21*
.com, .net, .org, .info, .biz, .eu, .name £5.74
.tel £13.99
.me £14.71
.tv, .cc £28.75
.uk.com, .gb.com, .gb.net, .eu.com, .uk.net, .mobi £28.75*

*minimum contract for two years
The above prices include VAT, and are indicated above as a rough guide price, that I can purchase a domain at the time of writing, with no additional hidden costs.
Whenever choosing a new domain registrar however, the prices advertised on the main homepage (ie £0.39 per year), are rarely the actual final price (especially if lower than the prices above), but you may only find out the full price at the time of reaching the ‘checkout’ button to complete your purchase.

Things to check:

In general, don’t get the hosting package offered at the time of buying your domain name originally. In many cases, you can get it cheaper elsewhere (although you will generally need at least one domain name, actually administered with the company who will host your website, but this can be moved later. Typically, the cost for moving a domain name between registrars, is equivalent to one year’s domain registration).
Make sure the domain is registered in your own name. For example, VistaPrint now offer a monthly package for you to design and host your website through them, however, for your monthly fee, the domain name is not actually registered in your own name, but theirs, and you need to pay an additional fee (although quite reasonable) to gain ownership (ie if you wanted to move the domain to another register at a later date).
Make sure there is no forced advertising on your website (ie without paying your domain registrars an additional fee). For example uk2.net used to be one of the worst for this, doubling the price if you didn’t want their advertising (which consisted of a banner at the top of every page, and then around 6 pop-up new windows when you closed that page of someone’s website).
Don’t go with the company who phones you up and offers you a domain name deal. They have to make higher profits from doing this, so the price is more too. Similarly, don’t do a search for ‘cheap domain names’ or similar.. generally, those that appear first in the search rankings, won’t actually be the cheapest, or best for you.

Choosing a name:

In general, the domain name should be as close to your company trading name as possible (many new companies now check for domain name availability, before choosing their company name).
Try to keep your domain name short, easily read, and not so easy to mistype (if read out verbally, or written down on the side of a company van, billboard, or similar).
Also, check that other similar names that may be mistyped, don’t link off to competitors websites (and so if you can, try to buy the domains that would most likely be mistyped by your clients/customers when searching for you). ie for a company called ‘The Therapy Agency’ based in the UK, the main website is www.therapy-agency.co.uk which is the ones used in any advertising, however, the company also purchased www.therapyagency.co.uk and www.thetherapyagency.co.uk to help catch any stray traffic.