Choosing a domain name for a UK business is something that requires careful thought and informed choices.
If you get your domain name wrong, you will make things unnecessarily difficult for yourself when it comes to getting listed well by the search engines.
Search engines look at lots of complex factors when deciding where to place your web pages in their listings; and some of these relate directly to your domain name.
Domain name related factors search engines look at include:
- Country of registration
- Country of hosting provider
- Top level domain used
- domain name content
So let’s look at these factors individually…
Country of Registration
When you buy a domain name you have to fill out a registration form with the name, address and contact details of the owner. Even if you choose to opt out of the WHOIS listings, some of this information is still available to the search engines for making decisions about your website’s country of origin. For that reason it is important that your domain name is registered in the country in which your business operates (i.e. the UK).
Country of Hosting Provider
The country in which your hosting provider is based can have an effect on search engine decisions too. If your business is based in the UK, but your web hosting is based in the US, you could confuse the search engines into believing that you are a US business, not a UK one. This is even more likely if other factors pointed out in this article are a problem too.
Top Level Domain Used
If your domain name ends in .co.uk then your top level domain (TLD) is uk. This tells the search engines that you are a UK based business. But if your TLD is .com, this tells the search engines that you are a US business. By all means buy both and set up a 301 re-direct from the .com to the .co.uk domain to protect your brand name, but avoid doing the opposite unless you are happy to confuse the search engines.
Domain Name Content
Finally, the search engines will look at the keywords within your domain name to find out what your website does. Whilst this is rarely country related, it is worth knowing. For more about choosing the right keywords for your domain name read Choosing a Domain Name.
So before you go rushing off to buy a .com domain name from an American hosting company, think each of these points through carefully.
If having done that, you decide that you need a UK based hosting company, I can thoroughly recommend one that has truly outstanding customer service and I use them all the time. Birch Hosting are UK based and in my opinion they are utterly brilliant; I cannot recommend them enough.