Business Domains Advice from Times Online UK

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The UK’s Times Online has an article today by Rachel Bridge about Domain Names, and while most of the advice is good, some of it steps beyond the boundaries of the author’s knowledge. Bridge talks about getting a great domain name to start your online business right. She got taken to task by a commenter Matt from London immediately –

… in the notes at the end of the article it’s weird that you mention underscores??? You can’t register a domain with an underscore it it

About the author (from the bio on her own site)

Rachel is the Enterprise Editor for The Sunday Times and is responsible for the Small Business and Start Up pages in the business section of the paper which highlight issues relevant to entrepreneurs and small and medium sized businesses.

Moving past the minor inaccuracies, Bridge quotes Susan Hallam, founder of Hallam Communications, an internet-marketing consultancy – who discusses domain name speculation and buying names on the secondary market – as well as several admittedly important items such as search friendly names which have important keywords in them.

The author then moves to the other end of the spectrum of leading thought on domain names and discusses “Creative” names in quotes from Hugh Boyle, head of digital for Europe, Middle East and Asia at Ogilvy Action, a marketing communications agency. Boyle says:

???People relate well to firms that don???t necessarily put their brand in the domain name,??? he said. ???And it is good to be clever or funky with them. It???s an area where you can be creative.???

Yes, Mr Boyle, but that gets into the area of branding and should only be used by major corporate sites with designs on the Fortune 500 levels in my opinion. Being a search engine optimization specialist, I tend to agree more with Hallam on search friendly names, than with Boyle on the “Funky” names.

???Domain name endings such as .net,,, .biz and .tv don???t resonate. And you won???t get many English companies using .eu. Also don???t have any hyphens. If people are going to the wrong site when they are looking for you, then unless they really need your product or service, they won???t bother to look again.???

But I do concur with Boyles’ suggestions about getting the .com in all cases and avoiding hyphens. The article is from UK based Times Online and addresses that varied TLD area of concern from the European perspective, though Bridge fails to note for readers that Britons will do better in their own search engine when they purchase the TLD (which is the default for those located in the UK, searching from UK IP addresses) – in addition to the .com version of their domain name.

Interesting that Bridge didn’t go further in her research and talk with any one of dozens of domain experts. Bridge mentions domain name brokers in a brief discussion on the secondary market but includes nothing quoted from any company representatives.

Not having any experience in the UK or Europe, I can’t speak to whether domain names are available for longer periods, but a final note on her article suggests that domain name owners should take care to renew their domains every two years. I have always advocated for the maximum 10 years registration as that may have some search engine positioning implications – plus you only have to remember every 5 years or so when you go extend it for another 5 and correct any contact information with your registrar.

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Search Engine Veteran - Enterprise SEO & Small Business Entrepreneurs. Advisor to startups for pre-launch optimization SEO Audits & consulting.