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Domain Names 
Domain Names: The Golden Rules

A domain name is also known as a 'web address' or 'web site name'. A domain name can be made up of characters A-Z, numbers 0-9 and the hyphen '-'. Domain names are not case sensitive.

Choosing a domain name is a very important decision. You may be promoting your domain name for many years, there are many factors to consider when choosing a domain name.

Choose The Right Domain Extension
There are many different domain extensions. Extensions like '.com', '.net', '.org', '.info', '.biz' are known as global Top Level Domains (gTLD's). Extensions like '.co.uk', '.org.uk', '.me.uk' are known as country code Top Level Domains (ccTLD's) because they are specific to the United Kingdom.

The most appropriate domain name for a business in the UK would be '.co.uk'. The '.co.uk' extension means 'a commercial domain name in the UK'. A '.com' domain name means 'an International commercial domain name'. If you are looking to promote your business nationally in the UK and Internationally you might consider registering both domain names. The '.co.uk' and '.com' domain names are considered to be the most prestigious and recognisable domain names available to a UK business.

The '.net' extension was originally intended for network service providers - e.g. virgin.net, the '.org' domain name was originally intended for organisations e.g. oxfam.org. However, these domain names are not restricted solely for network service providers and organisations and anyone in the world can register a '.net' or '.org' domain name. The '.info' and '.biz' extensions are relatively new (first launched in October 2001) and are designed for websites providing information (.info) and websites dedicated to business (.biz - Business Internet Zone).

Easy To Spell
It is vital that your domain name is easy to spell. Domain names including long, complicated words which some people might find difficult to spell should be avoided. If your domain name is being read out over the telephone or recommended to your potential customers by word of mouth it is very important that it is easy to spell.

Easy To Remember
Many of your potential customers may only see your domain name for a short time. For example, if your domain name is promoted on a vehicle. It is important that people can remember the domain name so that they can visit the site next time they are at their computer.

As Short As Possible
The longer your domain name, the higher the risk of your potential customers making a mistake when entering it into their browser. Simple short words should be used if possible. Also, It can be very difficult fitting a long domain name on a newspaper or magazine advertisement when space is at a premium.

Avoid Hyphens If Possible
It is becoming more and more difficult to find an available '.com' or '.co.uk' domain name, many people resort to using a hyphen in their domain name. A hyphen can be very useful to split up the words in your domain name. For example, john-smith-building.co.uk looks much clearer than johnsmithbuilding.co.uk.

However, your potential customers might forget to enter the hyphens and they would not be taken to your site. Worst still, they might be taken to a competitors site.