Guide

Set up a small business website

Choose and register a domain name

A domain name identifies a website's location on the internet. You should choose your domain name carefully, as it will effectively support your brand and business online.

Different types of domain names for business

There are many different types of domain names. They generally fall under one of two categories:

  • generic top-level domains (gTLDs) such as .net, .com, .org, .biz and .info
  • country code top-level domains such as .uk for the UK

Most UK companies choose to have domain names that end in .com or .co.uk. Some Northern Ireland businesses also use .ie as another option.

There are now hundreds of gTLDs available to register, eg .london, .company, .club, .eu. Think carefully about the geographical implications of your server and domain names, as they can affect local search results.

Important: Following Brexit, UK registrants of .eu will be able to retain their .eu domains during the transition period. Find out what the transition period means if you hold a .eu domain.

What is a good domain name?

When choosing a domain name, most businesses choose a name based on the name of their business or product. Your domain name should be:

  • short
  • easy to spell
  • easy to remember
  • relevant to your business or product

You should avoid choosing a domain name that:

  • misuses a trade mark that belongs to another business
  • misleads users into thinking you are someone else
  • contains lots of dashes (eg my-new-website-business-and-shop.co.uk) - this looks unprofessional, is difficult to remember and some search engines may consider it to be spam

How to buy a domain name?

You can register a domain name through an internet service provider (ISP) or a domain registration agent. See a list of ICANN accredited registrars, registrars accredited in the UK, or registrars accredited in the EU.

You will need to pay a small fee to register your domain name. This will grant it protection for the duration of the registration period.

Domains are not forever. You can't buy a domain name outright or permanently. You will have to renew your registration annually to keep ownership of your domain name.

It is important to understand that domain names are unique. They are allocated on a first come, first served basis, so it is possible that your preferred domain is already in use. You can check if the domain of your choice is available with registrars such as Nominet.