In this post we answer the most frequently asked questions about domain names. We hope it will help you on your journey to find the perfect domain name for your online home.
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1 – Can I change my domain name?
Yes, you can, but it requires some work by a webdesigner. Also, you will likely already have marketing materials with your old domain name included in the contact details, and you might have become known by that name. However, it is possible to re-direct the old domain name to the new domain name if you also keep the old domain name. So there are solutions if you would like to change it later but it is always better to pick one that you’re really happy with from the start.
2 – Can I have several domain names?
Yes, you can. And you can have them pointing to the same website. This could be useful if you have, for example, a .com domain and a .org domain. The same name with a different extension is a different domain. So xyz.com is a different domain from xyz.org. If you own both you can build 2 separate websites on them, or you can point them both to the same website. In that case, it doesn’t matter whether someone types in xyz.com or xyz.org. They could both display the website at xyz.com.
3 – Is it a good idea to have a hyphen (-) in my domain name?
It depends. Usually, simpler is better, so without a hyphen normally is easier. But sometimes a hyphen in your domain name is useful. For example, if your name consists of multiple words that could also be different words if they’re put together. Something like mybestfriendsex.com could be my-best-friends-ex.com or something else (if you Google ‘confusing domain names’ you can find some funny real world examples).
But keep in mind that some people don’t know what a hyphen is and may have trouble finding it on their keyboard (although you could of course explain to them it’s the minus sign). And others may simply forget it. So if you’re going for a name with a hyphen in it, it’s probably a good idea to also get the same name without a hyphen and point that to the same website.
4 – Is there an optimum length for a domain name?
You might not think so, but this has actually been studied. What they found is that 8 characters is the optimum length for a domain name (that’s the bit before the .com or .org or whatever your extension is).
Typically, a shorter name is better because it’s easier to remember and quicker to type in or write down. But on the other hand, if you have a catchy couple of words together, it can work really well. Try to avoid domain names over 20 characters long.
5 – Do I need a .com name or a .org or something else?
It depends on you and your intended audience. Most people recognise .com as a standard ending for a domain name. So it’s almost always a good idea to register a .com name, even if you’re also registering a name with a different extension.
If you target an audience in a specific country, it would be a good idea to consider that country’s extension. So for example ‘co.uk’ for the United Kingdom.
Also see our article six tips for finding the perfect domain name for more information.
6 – Is it a good idea to register both .com and .org?
If you have found a lovely domain name, for example verysimplesite, and you are planning to market your products on the Dutch, English and international market, it would be a good idea to register verysimplesite.com, verysimplesite.co.uk and verysimplesite.nl. Also if you have thought up a lovely “new word “, like the people at pinterest did for example, and no-one is using any of the domains yet, it might be good to register .org and .net also next to .com. But it depends very much on your business type and market. If in doubt, please get in touch, we’d be happy to give advice!
7 – Should I register my domain name for 1 or 2 years?
Usually, domain names are registered for a year. Some domain registrars offer the option to register domain names for several years. If they offer a discount for registering for several years, and you are pretty sure about your project, it might be a good idea to go for a longer registration.
8 – Someone has already registered “my” domain name, is there anything I can do?
Domain name registration can be big business. There are people who make a living from registering all kinds of good domain names when they are just released, and try to sell them on for profit to an interested party. Also domain registrars offer certain very good domain names as premium domains, prices can be as high as several thousand euros. Unless you have a lot of spare cash available, it is often best to think of another idea. See our full e-book with ideas for more info (details of how to download your copy at the bottom of this post). But also have a look at back ordering domains below.
9 – The domain I’m after is available as Back order, what does this mean?
Sometimes a domain name is available for “back order”. This means that the expiry date for renewing the domain has passed, and it is possible that the previous owner is no longer interested in keeping it. If the renewal fee is not payed on time, there is a grace period where the “previous owner” can still re-register the domain name. This grace period lasts a few weeks, and after this period the domain name is “dropped” and it is available for registration by anyone else. It is possible to “back order” these domain names that are in the grace period. Domain registrars constantly poll the domain after the expiry date through an automated process (several times per second) , anticipating its release. The instant the domain becomes available, they attempt to register it in your name. There is an extra fee for back ordering. You normally only pay this fee if the back order is successful.
10 – Should I register my domain name on my business or private?
If you would like to claim the costs of your domain name as expense for your business, it is best to register it immediately as your business. It is possible to transfer a domain name to someone else or to another business, but it requires some work.
11 – Where to check whether my domain name is available?
We have quite some years experience with (helping others) registering domain names – and we have learnt a few lessons. Not all domain registrars play a fair game we feel. We have noticed on several occassions that there are certain domain registrar companies that monitor what people type in the search field when they are searching for a good domain name. When you come back the next day to register your name all of sudden you find that the name that was still normal, low price yesterday has now become a premium domain name registered by the company! As far as we know domainmonster.com don’t do this, so if you are still in the brainstorming phase, we advise you to use them to do your research.
12 – Where best to register my domain name?
For .com domains we recommend using namesilo.com For .co.uk domains and other Europe extensions such as .nl .de etc we recommend Domainmonster.com. Both companies have good prices and offer excellent customer service (saving time and money if work on your website is required that involves your website designer managing your domain name). Please note that we have no commercial interest in recommending these companies, they are simply companies that we have good experiences with for 10+ years now.
These tips are part of our Domain Name e-book – Finding and Securing the Perfect Domain Name with lots of useful info, domain name brainstorm tips and creative ideas, domain name tools and FAQ about domain name registration.
Subscribers to our newsletter list receive our domain name e-book as a welcome gift – once you have subscribed you will be directed to our downloads page.