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Choosing a domain name for your small business can be quite a daunting task, especially if you live in the UK where the choices can be limitless, with even cities such as London getting their own TLDs. You generally have to go through a lot of searching online researching checking and double checking to find a catchy domain name that has not been taken and is not too similar to that of another business. One thing that makes the process even more confusing for a business owner is that apart from the top TLDs such as the .NET .ORG and .COM and .GOV there are now country level TLDs such as the .CO.UK the .UK which you may not understand. At the dawn of the internet, it was all about the top TLDs but over time many people in the UK tended towards the country-specific .CO.UK. Since 2013, there has been an option for UK businesses to now adopt the .UK TLD to replace the .CO.UK. In this article, we cover the reasons why your business needs to buy the .UK address.
History of the .CO.UK
As the Internet grew, the .com came to be associated with the US even as most businesses in the UK clung to the .CO.UK. Over time the .co.uk came to be the most popular domain for British businesses and personal domains that fit the following criteria:
1) Have UK-based support
2) Targeted the British user (wanted to be seen in UK search results)
3) Accept the British Pound for online payments
4) Located in the UK
A Brief History of the .UK TLD
If you have been thinking of getting the new .UK TLD there are a few things you need to know about its history. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) made the .UK website and email address available for businesses in the UK in 2013. To ensure that there were no instances of squatting on the new addresses, ICANN included a grandfather clause that allowed businesses in the UK first option on the new addresses that matched their .CO.UK domain addresses. As such, if your business’s .co.uk website address was registered before October 2013, you have the right to claim your new .UK domain name until the expiry of five years. After five years, you will lose your right to the domain name under the .UK address and anyone can register it. If your domain name was registered after October 2013 you do not have automatic rights to the domain name and anyone can register it if you do not.
What is Nominet?
Nominet is a non-profit entity that was set up to regulate and manage the use of the .UK domain. The group is also in charge of selling and creation of domain names under the several SLDs that are sold to businesses seeking domain names in the UK. As it currently, stands Nominet has not yet allowed anyone to register any new direct domains since it was established and hence anyone seeking to register any names has to do it under the second level domains. These include the .ORG.UK and the .CO.UK, which are the most popular. Unlike the new .UK domains you no longer have to be a UK resident or have a local presence to register these second-level domains. Since the .CO.UK was mainly set up for businesses and corporations most of the new registrations under the .UK domains are businesses.
Why should your Small Business Register a .UK
1) Since November 2013, Nominet made the .UK top-level domain open for any individual and business in the UK to register. This is one of the most significant developments in the name industry in the UK. With so many advantages to the .UK it is certain that it will soon be the extension of choice for most British businesses.
2) Nominet has provided a five year grace period for all businesses and individuals still on the .CO.UK domain to switch to the .UK top level domain. If your business wants to retain its top-level domain, now is the best time to snap up the .UK before the expiry of the grace period after which anyone could snap up the domain.
3) The new .UK is part of the geographic identity domain names such as .DE for Germany and .FR for France and hence they are going to play a major role in branding your business. Moreover, it will give your site an edge in the search engines as the sites tend to rank well if they have the top level domain associated with their country. For instance, a .COM will not rank as high in the UK as compared with a .UK when everything is held constant.
4) Customers are more confident in dealing with a local company rather than a foreign or even international company. A survey found that up to 72% of British users prefer to open the .UK domain on the search results over any other domain extension. According to the survey, the users do believe that a domain on a .UK will tend to be more relevant, trustworthy and have local import to them.
6) If you do not register your .UK domain name by June 2019, anyone including scammers could snap your company’s top-level domain name. They could then impersonate your company and could spoof your website to defraud your clients tarnishing your business’s name. Registering the top level domain while you still have time ensures that you own both versions of your domain name and hence ensure that no one does any nefarious business in your company’s name.
7) Owning both the .UK and the .CO.UK domain names mean that you never have to worry about losing any traffic to either domain. Since you have been on the latter, many clients will still have that domain while other may type the newer .UK into the search engine. By having both, you can just do a redirect of the old site to the new and get all your clients to your functioning site.
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