Tag Archives: domain names

Domain Name and Whois Rules for UK Businesses

The TLD is the last bit if a domain nameMost successful start-ups think about the role the internet will play in their business before they get going. Just like naming your company, the domain name you choose will become a vital part of your company’s identity. Your domain name is what your customers type into the address bar which will direct them to your website. (For example, our domain is thecompanywarehouse.co.uk). Your domain name will also be used for your business email addresses. (all our email addresses end in @thecompanywarehouse.co.uk).

The exact rules governing domain names vary depending on what Top Level Domain (TLD) you use. The TLD is the last bit if a domain name. The most common are .org, .com and .co.uk but lots of other variants are available such as .me and .biz. Different TLDs are overseen by different organisations, sometimes known as Internet Registry Companies. So, for instance, .com and .co.uk domains operate under different rules because they are managed by different organisations. It’s important to think about what TLD you’re going choose.

When you register your domain name, the internet registry company will store information about you, and make some of it available online. This is called whois information. Anyone can find it by doing a whois search, and results may include:

  • The registrant (who registered the domain);
  • The registrant type (individual, sole trader or company)
  • The registrants address
  • Relevant dates (when the domain was registered and when it will expire)

How much appears in the whois record depends on who registered the domain and the TLD. Different Internet Registry Companies have different rules about what is displayed. As a general rule, the following applies:

  • If you register your domain name as an individual you can choose to keep your address private.
  • If you register the domain name as a limited company, you will have to display an address, company name and number.
  • If you register the domain as a sole trader your address, and the fact you’re a sole trader will be displayed.

The downside of registering your domain through your limited company is that your address and other details will be made available for anyone to search. However there are benefits to purchasing the domain name through your company rather than as an individual as you:

  • increase your company’s Intellectual Property (IP);
  • can increase the value of your company when you come to selling it in the future.

Because domains registered on behalf of a limited company cannot hide their whois information it means that your company’s address will be put online. If you are registering your company to your own home this can be an issue. You can avoid publishing your home address online by using a Registered Office Service. This is especially useful if you are registering all the variations on your domain name across different TLDs

You can register domain names from as little as £1 per year through our website. If you need help choosing and registering your domain name, call our business consultants today on 0800 0828 727

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Similar Domain Names: How to Avoid Breaking the Rules

Domain Name Rules We frequently hear of cases where a start-up company has bought a domain name only to find that a very similar name is already in use. The start-ups usually want to know if they can get away with using their new domain name. As with a lot of issues around intellectual property this is a bit of a grey area that depends on the exact circumstances. One thing that applies to all domain names though, is that just because you have registered a name does not mean you have the right to use it.

Passing off

If you have bought a domain name and then find out someone else has a very similar name already registered you need to stop and do some research. There is a long established legal principle in the UK called “passing off”. Originally this applied to business names and trademarks but a series of court cases over the last twenty years have extended its use to domain names.

Passing off is the principle that business names are protected, even if they are not registered.  So people cannot copy your business name, nor can they set up a business with a similar name if customers might be confused. To determine if passing off applies courts will normally look at whether one of the companies was already well established at the time of the conflict, whether the two businesses are operating in the same industry, in the same geographical area and targeting the same customers. As this is based on case law the exact ruling will vary based on the circumstances so, for instance, in one case the geographical area might not be relevant. In another case the colour of shop signs might be crucial. The basic principle is though, if a potential customer could easily confuse the businesses, the newer of the two will have to change its name. (To test this out the court might use the “moron in a hurry” standard).

Basically the same rules apply to domain names. If you have a domain name very similar to that owned by another business then you can be challenged for passing off. As with normal business names this will depend on whether you are in the same industry, whether you are in the same geographical area and whether customers are likely to be confused or misled. If you are judged to be “passing off” your business then you can be forced to change the domain name. This can potentially be a very expensive and disruptive process for web based businesses.

Protecting yourself from passing off

If you have accidently registered a domain name where there is a danger of a passing off challenge then you need to seek some specialist legal advice from an intellectual property specialist. The potential court case and impact on your business could be huge and needs to be avoided. If you cannot afford this kind of legal advice then a good first step to resolving the situation would be to get in touch with the other company and see whether they are going to be upset by your domain name. Of course the best way to avoid passing off claims is to do your research before you register a domain.

When you do a domain name search the results you see will be for the exact words or phrase you have typed in. It will not show you similar names. It is therefore a good idea to do a normal web search on your preferred domain name before buying it. When you do this make sure you go past the first page of results and have a really good look at different combinations of the words in your domain to re-assure yourself there are no competitors out there. Also make sure that when you buy a domain name you get all the different TLD combinations such as .com, .org, .net. This makes sure both that no-one else has an existing site with them, and that no-one can set up such a site in the future. You should also consider doing a company name search and a trademark search. This will ensure that no-one else has already established legal protection on the words in your domain name. If this is done properly then you should have no “passing off” problems.

How to Register a Domain Name

Securing your company’s domain name is now nearly as important as securing your company name. Your domain name will be your company’s name online. It will be your website address & form half of your email address. It will feature alongside your company name on your business cards, signs and other communications. When choosing company names it is therefore worth thinking about what domain names are available. Equally when choosing a company name it is now worth thinking about how it will do in the search engines.

Registering a domain is simple. You can use a domain name search like the one on our website to find ones that are available. When registering domain names it is worth going through an official registrar rather than a reseller as there is one less layer of people to deal with if things go wrong (and one less layer of people looking for a cut of your money). Nominet are the UK domain authority and keep a list of registrars (we are there under our registrar tag COMPANYWAREHOUSE).

Once you find a domain you like it is a simple process of handing over some payment details and placing your order. Domains can typically be registered for between 1 and 10 years at a time. Once your domain is registered you need to link it to a website and to the servers that website is hosted on. This is done through the DNS system, the exact procedure for this varies from registrar to registrar but it is usually pretty simple.

But what about picking the actual name itself? What should you look for? Our basic checklist would include the following:

  • Make sure you own the .co.uk and .com variations of your company name (even if it is only to stop anyone else getting them)
  • Look at keyword domains. Research what people search for to buy your product or service. People are more likely to search for ‘garages Chelmsford’ than ‘Smith and Sons Garage’. Using keywords in your domain will help you to attract more visitors.
  • Keep your domain short. 15 characters is about the limit.
  • Avoid hyphens, they make your domain harder to remember and look spammy
  • Go for standard Top Level Domains such as .co.uk & .com these look more credible
  • Before buying any domain name do a normal web search for it and see what comes up. If there is another website with a very similar name avoid it.

Whatever name you pick you are likely to be stuck with it for a while. Changing the domain name on your website will reset the site as far as the search engines are concerned. Having said that, remember there is nothing to stop you from having multiple websites with different domain names catering for your business name, keywords and combinations of the two.

If you would like help picking a domain name for your business get in touch with our Business Consultants and they can talk you through the options.

Top Level Domain Names: What to choose for your new website

Best Domain Names and TLDs for SEOTop level domains (TLDs) are the bit that comes at the end of a website address. Common examples would be ‘.com’, ‘.co.uk’ and ‘.org’. Which TLDs you can use is decided by ICANN who are an American not for profit organisation. Recently they have taken the decision to expand the number of TLDs available and have been accepting new applications. Companies like Google, Amazon and the BBC have been applying for permission to run these new TLDs (and paying around £120,000 each for the privilege). The hottest competition is around ‘.app’, ‘.home’, ‘.inc’ and ‘.art’.

With companies willing to invest so much money into competing for these TLDs it is worth considering which one to pick when choosing a website address. There are already dozens of TLDs to choose from such as ‘.com’, ‘.co.uk’, ‘.me’, ‘.tv’ and ‘.info’. When searching for a domain name for your new website you may be offered a number of TLDs.

A lot of research has been done on whether different TLDs produce better results from the search engines. So, for instance, would ‘www.example.com’ come up higher in the search results than ‘www.example.co.uk’ if the content of the two sites was equal? Leading books on SEO suggest that it is always best to use a ‘.com’ address, and these are the most popular TLDs. However some research shows that a ‘.org’ address will do better in search results than a ‘.com’.

For a new business trying to attract customers in a specific area one of the country TLDs, such as ‘.co.uk’, is seen to hold a slight advantage. This advantage can be increased when combined with UK based website hosting. The reason for this is that if someone is searching for ‘UK car hire’ then search engines like Google and Bing will try to provide sites from the UK in the results. If your site has a ‘.co.uk’ address and UK hosting (and is about car hire) then it will be seen as being relevant and will rank well in the search results. The obvious downside of this is that if someone is searching for ‘France car hire’ you are unlikely to do well. ‘.co.uk’ domain names are therefore best for websites offering UK specific services.

Other than ‘.com’ and ‘.co.uk’ domain names there are currently lots of other options such as ‘.tv’, ‘.info’ or ‘.cc’. The general consensus is that using these TLDs is seen by the search engines as a spam indicator. As a result they are likely to be displayed much lower down in the search results. Having said that, it is also generally acknowledged that if you have a good quality website with one of these TLDs it will still do well, it may just take it a while to get there.

An important consideration when choosing your TLD is user perception. People are used to seeing ‘.com’ and ‘.co.uk’ TLDs, they are less used to seeing a ‘.me’ address. This is especially important for business websites, and new company websites in particular. Having a standard ‘.com’ or ‘.co.uk’ domain is likely to be seen as more trustworthy by potential customers.

Finally it is worth considering what domains are available for you to buy. If ‘www.mynewsite.com’ is already taken is it worth buying ‘www.mynewsite.co.uk’? Take a look at the site which already exists and see whether it is likely to be a competitor. Are people going to go to their website by mistake when searching for your company or product? If the answer is yes then it is probably worth rethinking your domain name. Likewise if you search for ‘www.mynewsite.co.uk’ and find that the ‘.com’, ‘.org’ and other variations are available it is worth buying them all. This stops competitors from setting up sites which can steal your traffic or from people setting up spam sites to trap your customers. All of these domain names can be pointed to the same website so whatever variation of your address they type in they will find it.

Once you have a basic idea of what kind of domain name you want, have a play around with our domain name search. We have some of the cheapest domain names in the UK including ‘.co.uk’ domain names from £1. We also offer UK based website hosting which is free for the first 3 months.

Stake Your Business Claim On The Internet Or Someone Else Will


Stake your claim on the internet

If you don’t stake your business claim on the internet, you risk this happening to you (among other things). BP has been subject to a lot of abuse lately over their mishaps in the Gulf of Mexico. One of the more recent critical commentaries has come from a fake Twitter account set up in their name. @BPGlobalPR – an unofficial account has been posting scathing comments about the multi-national giant’s activities with comments such as this:


Much to BP’s dismay, the fake account has nearly 200,000 followers (while the legitimate account @BP_America has less 20,000) and has been publicised across the internet, causing yet more damage to their brand.

This sort of “name jacking” is not a new phenomenon with many celebrities being subject to the same sort of problems. Not being quick enough to register an account in their name they are forced to register accounts with “Real” in front of their name or otherwise beg Twitter to close down the fake accounts.

Twitters “verified” service is helpful when trying to determine real from fake, but only if the real person actually has an account. Kanye West famously hasn’t had one. Until recently that is; when he finally got one to get ahead of all the fakers. Interestingly, he’s only following 1 person, who is now making headlines himself.

Of course these sorts of problems are not new to the internet. Over the years many people (and businesses) have found their ideal domain name (website address) already purchased by someone else and held to ransom or used in unexpected and undesirable ways. Known as “cybersquatting” it has been a thorn in the side of business for years and a perfect example of why a business should stake its claim as soon as possible.

Staking your claim

Starting any new business, one of the first things you should do is stake your claim on the internet. Probably even before choosing your company name. If you have some ideas, carry out a domain search and quickly register a domain name before someone else beats you to it.

You should consider setting up a Facebook, Twitter and other social networking accounts, if only to prevent others from using your business name in vein.

The good news is Twitter is planning a business verification scheme for sometime in the future, which will help protect businesses and prevent customer confusion.