Appropriate use of domains

It is a fact that the majority of businesses nowadays have some kind of Internet presence in the form of webpage, website or blog.  Unfortunately too many people have little idea how to best choose a domain for their business and they just assume anything will do.

I am nearly shocked when sometimes I meet people, exchange business cards with them and notice the domain they are using to represent their business.  The sad reality is that a poorly chosen domain, as well as a badly designed logo, can give a bad first impression of who you and your business are.

There are rules about what Top Level Domain (TLD) should be used to identify a business, a non profit organisation like a club or a charity or a university: some of these rules are strictly enforced (e.g. you cannot have .gov,  .mil or .gov.uk unless you are respectively a US government, US  military or UK government organisation) but there others that can be used by anyone for anything although some guidelines do apply.  Inappropriate use of those reflects, from my point of view, little understanding of these rules and more broadly about how Internet works.

I will list below a couple of examples that highlight typical possible mistakes:

  • MaGa Coaching, specialises in Business and Executive Coaching: for this reasons we have registered magacoaching.com and magacoaching.co.uk as domains. As it is a business based in UK we use and advertise magacoaching.co.uk as the active domain but if you try browsing magacoaching.com you will find the same website.  Typical mistake in this case would have been to register magacoaching.org or magacoaching.org.uk or magacoaching.net. MaGa Coaching is a for-profit company and the .org, .org.uk would have suggested it is not while the .net would have suggested we offer networking services and that is definitely not the case.
  • My nick name since high school is Gaet so I found it normal when registering a personal domain for my website, now this blog, to register gaet.org.   This is not a company and definitely it is not a profit making organisation therefore the .org domain is just fine (or .org.uk).  I could have used .me, .name, .me.uk but they did not exist when I bought gaet.org.
  • A common mistake, for lots of regular profit making businesses, is to use .org, .org.uk domains to represent them: although legal it would be like registering a company called “Make More Profits Limited” or the “Profit Club Limited” as a charity, not for profit 🙂  How much trust would you put in such a company?

Here is list of main TLD that you should consider for your own use:

Type of organisation

Domain

Notes

Brand for a sole trader, limited company, partnership .com .co.uk Best to register both when you can: it avoids confusion and it’s just a few pounds / dollars per year so it’s worth the expenditure
Personal, charity, club .org .org.uk
Provider of networking and Internet services .net
Personal .me .me.uk .name For your own website/blog

What I describe in this post typically applies for entities in US and UK (all domains finishing with .uk are supposedly for UK based entities).  Each country in the world has its own TLD and for some domestic market the natural choice is to choose a localised domain name (e.g. .it for Italy, .fr for France, .de for Germany and .es for Spain and so on…).  For businesses there is an unwritten rule that says that a .com will be the domain for a global company: when in doubt I would choose a domain for which both the .com and the local domestic domain (e.g. .it) are available.  You can choose to have both of them served by the same website or simply leave one unused and avoid confusions.

There are many other domains that have been more recently defined (in the last few years): a short list of these is: .info, .biz, .ws, .us, .eu, .mobi, .tel They are all legitimate and appropriate to use but for many Internet purists they tend to be considered like second class domains.

I would like to conclude this post with a little suggestion.  Whether you are registering a domain for a company, a brand, a charity or for your personal blog try choosing a simple, easy to spell and appropriate domain that immediately reflects what your business / organisation / club is about.  If have problems with that you could ask an expert, there are many around, and if you fail with that contact me, I would be glad to help.

Appropriate use of domains

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