This can be achieved as simply as getting your business details listed in an online directory such as yell.com, however to put across a truly professional image it is worth seriously considering having a website designed for your business.
This series of articles will touch on some of the factors that will need to be considered when doing this. So what factors should be considered?
Choosing a Domain name
The domain name will form the address at which your website will be found. There are two schools of thought in place in relation to choosing a domain name - branded vs. generic â€“ and pros to each approach.
A branded domain name will usually relate to your business/product identity, and therefore be a memorable way of getting your domain name in to the minds of your customers. This is particularly useful if you anticipate driving traffic to your website through more traditional forms of advertising such as television, newspaper or billboard advertising.
An example of a branded domain name would be www.nike.com. This is a domain name that is short, easily identifiable with the brand in question, and easy to remember. For people looking specifically for this brand, it is very easy to remember and then type in to their browser's address bar when they wish to visit the site.
However, the drawback about this domain name is that it does not readily identify what the subject of the website is about; this is where the benefits of a generic domain name become apparent.
Generic domain names relate to the actual product/service that your business is offering. As well as being useful in providing an indicator of the subject matter of your website to your human visitors, these domain names also have an edge in another important area â€“ search engines.
Search engines are the method by which the majority of websites receive the majority of their traffic (or visitors), and the higher your website appears in search engine results the more traffic you will get. In order to be able to get your website in to the top few results for your product/service, you need to give the search engines a clear indication of what your website is about, and the domain name is one of the ways in which this can be emphasised.
To continue with our example above, instead of www.nike.com the domain name used might have been www.running-shoes.com. This gives a very clear indicator of the subject of the site, and means that there is an increased likelihood of this website showing up high in the search results for keywords related to â€œrunning shoes".
In reality, branding is usually viewed as too important a consideration to ignore completely, and therefore an approach that mixes elements of the two is best applied. If we were to offer advice to a young startup Nike Inc. then a domain name such as www.nike-sportswear.com would probably be appropriate. This retains branding indentity, but also enables search engines and human visitors alike to see what products are being offered.
A word on Top Level Domains (TLDs)
A TLD (or domain extension) is the final portion of a domain name: the .com, or .co.uk. There are a bewildering number of domain extensions available to choose from, but in our opinion the choice should always be simple.
If you are targetting a specific country, then use the TLD for that country. Something ending in .uk for the UK, .de for Germany, .fr for France etc. The UK is unusual in that it offers a number of options, .co.uk being the most common. In our opinion, unless you are a not-for-profit organisation (in which case use .org.uk) this is the extension you should always use. The other extensions (.ltd.uk, .net.uk) are too rarely seen to be of much use to you.
We would also recommend staying away from .uk.com â€“ this isn't actually a true TLD. Instead it is some enterprising organisation who registered the domain name .uk.com a long time ago selling off sub-domain names of their domain name. You will find your options with regards transferring the domain name etc. restricted if you buy one of these, and probably pay a premium too because there is only one company selling these domains.
If you operate on a global platform, then .com is the domain name to use. Although you can register .info, .org, .net etc. these domains are again relatively unseen. If you do not use the .com and instead register mycompanyxyz.net, then there is the possibility of a domain squatter registering mycompanyxyz.com. You can guarantee that more people looking for your website are likely to type in .com than .net, and therefore you will lose customers.
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