You are just one domain name away from launching a successful website
A website is key to online success for businesses, large and small, but every website success story starts with a domain name. And the better the domain name, the easier it is to be successful.
To successfully launch your own website, you will need four things:
1. A domain name
2. A website
3. Hosting for your website
And it all starts with a great domain name.
1. A domain name
Without a domain name, you can't have a website.
To find your website, people will use your domain name by typing it into their browser. A domain name is often referred to as virtual real estate because it is your web address, your address on the internet. And just as in the real world of bricks and mortar, not all domain names are created equal. You have your Mayfairs and you have your Old Kent Roads.
If your website will be for a non-commercial project, there is no need to spend a fortune on a domain name. In fact, I would look to spend as little as possible: a few pounds on an as yet unregistered domain name should do the trick.
Similarly, if you have buckets full of cash to throw at a marketing budget, you might also get away with spending as little as possible on a domain name. You frequently see companies spending huge sums on television advertising to gain brand recognition and for online businesses that brand will be their domain name.
“While competitors in the injury claims industry were spending over £6 million a year in TV advertising to help build brand, a domain such as claims.co.uk is a brand in a box."
Chris Quail, owner of Claims.co.uk Ltd, who purchased the domain name for £100,000 in February, 2012
It can work, but be careful because made up domain names can be difficult to recall even after extensive marketing campaigns.
Take Sarah Beeny's online estate agency for example. Sarah is very well known as a TV presenter for the likes of Property Ladder and Double Your House For Half The Money and lots of people will know that she also runs an online estate agency thanks to regular television advertising.
How many of those people could tell you the name of her business is another matter. I had to Google it to remind myself when writing the above (answer at foot of article!).
For the rest of us, a domain name can be a crucial component of online success. The better the domain name, the easier it will be for customers to find you online, and the more likely they will be to trust you with their business.
My advice is to buy the best name you can sensibly afford to either when launching a business or redeveloping an existing website.
2. A website
You can have a domain name without a website, but you can't have a website without a domain name.
A domain name will be your web address, but think of it as a plot of land waiting to be developed. What you build on your plot of land is your website. Visitors then use your domain name to arrive at your website.
A website is basically a collection of files or pages. When someone visits a website, he or she broses through those pages, reading your text, looking at your images and buying your goods and services.
The cost of a website will depend on the size and complexity of what is required. A simple "brochure" style website of half a dozen pages should cost you no more than a few hundred pounds. You may even be able to build it yourself for free. An all-singing all-dancing website consisting of thousands of pages will obviously require a much bigger budget.
Rome doesn't need to be built in a day, however. Websites can and do develop over time, growing as your business grows.
3. Website Hosting
Some businesses, particularly larger ones, will run and service their own servers, while smaller businesses will by web hosting space from web hosting companies. How much does hosting cost? Surprisingly little. Shared hosting suitable for small businesses can cost less than £50.00 a year.
Without customers, you won't be in business very long.
A good website will not only increase your customer base, but will also make it easier for your customers to buy or use your goods and services.
Customers old and new need to know you have a website and that's where marketing comes in. Even the smallest of businesses use marketing, even if it is limited to word of mouth or a web address on a van.
And here's where a great domain name comes into its own. An easily remembered domain name makes it easier for a customer to find you. It also conveys trust because customers assume the best names are owned by established players in any market. Best of all, it will continue to work for you year after year, resulting in you having to spend less on marketing.
A great domain name doesn't just play its part at the beginning. It continues to pay dividends long after it is purchased, often repaying its cost many times over.
PS Sarah Beeny's online estate agency is called Tepilo! Apparently, it is the name of an imaginary castle, described by Sarah's father in stories he told her as a child.