How to advise your clients on domain names - Heart Internet Blog - Focusing on all aspects of the web

A while back we asked you about the problems you face when explaining domain names to your clients. We had some great responses, and we’ve teamed them with some of our own tips so you can create a strategy that works for you.

What’s in a name?

Whether you’re helping a client rebrand an existing business or setting up a new business from scratch, choosing the right name can be a challenge.

Make sure your client knows: Domain names are one of the cheapest business investments you can make, but they’re also one of the most important. Choose your main name wisely; it may be cheap to change once you have an established site, but it can also cause confusion and potentially hurt your search engine rankings.

Go prepared

Before you ask your client if they have a name in mind, prepare a short list of different options, making sure you double check availability as close to the time as possible. This way you don’t have to think on the spot and gives you time to select names your client may not have thought of. If you’re struggling for availability, hyphens, place names or short prefixes/suffixes (e.g. ‘get[company name]’ or ‘[companynam]co’ can help. Or, like Primary Image, suggest looking at the new TLDs.

Make sure your client knows: It’s better to have more than one name for your company to ensure all bases are covered. Even if you don’t want a different URL for your emails, client area, separate projects etc., redirecting common typos, company name variations, hyphenated names, and other common extensions to your main website nips a lot of potential problems in the bud. It’s better to buy a name you might use when it’s available and let it drop because you end up not needing it than it is to change your mind later on and miss out on the domain altogether.

Consider all angles

Your client may only have their business name in mind for their website URL, but a generic domain may be more suitable for their needs or provide a welcome addition to their collection. If they are an established business with a base of returning customers, using their company name is likely to be the best option for their main URL provided it’s easy to spell and not too common. If they’re just starting out and/or do a lot of physical advertising, a shorter generic name can be a good idea if the name (or budget, for the secondary market) is available. For example, people are more likely to remember than

Make sure your client knows: Different styles of domain names can be used in different contexts, so it’s good to have a choice to fall back on, and have redirects in place. Long and short names both have their benefits. A short name redirected to the primary name is ideal for business cards, vehicles, print ads, t-shirts, social media, and much more. A name that incorporates location (e.g. city, county or country) can be beneficial for relevancy and branding.

Tailor the reasons

When you’re advising your client on domain names, make sure the advice is specific to them and their business needs. Generic vs. descriptive, long or short, established extension or brand new, it’s important to back your advice up with logic that incorporates context, SEO, customers, location, and the business’s future. It can be useful to create a quick guide to the different factors that need to be considered so your client can refer back to it or read it in their own time, especially if you end up doing the following a lot:

Make sure your client knows: That choosing the right domain name is more than just what you think sounds good. At the end of the day, you’re choosing for your customers too.

Determine ownership in advance

Are you registering the domain name in your name or your client’s? There are pros and cons to either choice, but it should be a joint decision. If you’re also managing your client’s hosting, email and general web security, it makes sense to include domain name management. If you don’t see yourself working with them in two years’ time, it’s probably going to be more convenient for everyone for them to register in their name. Don’t forget that ownership can impact deductible business expenses for either party.

…just say no!

For more advice on choosing domain names, take a look at our domain name tips page. Or, tell us your challenges and tips in the comments!

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  • Max


    I’d like to hear your thoughts on domain references?

    If a client has an existing website at i can set up a reference and build a hosting package on it, and build a site fir them to see.

    Can you cover how – at switch time – you can best swing tgeir donain name to the reference? Both with NS change or Domain Transfer.


  • Jenni


    Hi Max,

    Great question. As long as the full domain isn’t with us already, yes you can set up the reference with us and build the site first.

    You would contact our support team who’d be able to configure the domain to serve DNS pre-emptively, so that when you change over your NSs, it’d start serving instantly.

    Hope that helps!


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