Saturday, July 05, 2008

Have You Got the Right Domain Name?

Domain name, web address, URL, they all refer to the same thing - it's the way people find your company on the internet. Just as homes and offices have a street address, so your website has a web address.

Your web address or domain name typically has several levels, separated by a dot. The right-most level is known as the top-level domain and is often represented by a country code, such as .nz. Within .nz, a range of second-level domains have been created for specific uses (eg. for commercial users and for schools). Some second-level domains are subject to moderation and have a restricted usage (eg. Using Spiral as an example we see:
* third-level domain = spiral
* second-level domain = co
* top-level domain = nz

Third-level domains are managed in New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom on a 'first come, first served basis'. Australian domains are available only to registered Australian businesses, companies or ABN holders

How do I choose a domain name?
1. Choose the top-level domain based on your market and possibly your location

2. Choose the second-level domain based on your activities

  • .co or .com for companies pursuing commercial aims
  • .org for non-profit organisations
  • .net for organisations directly related to the NZ Internet
  • .school for pre-school, primary and secondary schools
  • .maori for Māori people, groups, and organisations
  • .ac for tertiary educational institutions

3. Choose a third level domain based on one or all of the following

  • your company name eg
  • the name of your product eg
  • an easy to remember abbreviation eg
  • something made up and memorable eg any combination of letters and numbers. You may also include a hyphen anywhere in the string, except the beginning or end.

What about the www?
The fourth-level domain is also known as a sub-domain and typically we see www as the sub-domain, as in . A sub-domain might be set up for something like a forum or another major section to a website i.e. our mailRoom software website is and the address for the application is - no www necessary.

Other factors around trust will be in my next post.