Owning and Understanding Your Domain Name

What you need to know about this important web asset

domain name managementOver the last few months, a couple of our older clients have asked for domain names to be transferred to new owners when selling their practices due to retirement. This is all part of the natural progression of course, and it’s always nice to meet the new clients when they come along.

However, what I realised as part of the process, is that a lot of people actually know very little about about apparently small but important assets such as domain names and just how critical they can be. For example, a domain name is registered either to a company or an individual and if those particular credentials are wrong, transferring to a new owner can be quite problematic.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at the key points you need to understand when it comes to the domain names associated with your dental practice website so that you don’t get caught out in the future.

Make sure your domain is registered in your name

This is most important and worth checking for any of the domains that you own. What can happen is that a marketing agency or other third party is allowed to register the domain name(s) on their client’s behalf but then registers it in their own name and not their clients. This practice is still rife unfortunately and is historically based on an unfounded belief that it somehow gives control should a client default on payment for example. Frankly it’s just bad practice, so please watch out for it.

.com or .co.uk?

These are the two most popular domain name variations in the UK, but which one should you choose? In most cases, .co.uk is the most appropriate as this is actually designated for use by UK businesses. If you want to go with .com, that’s OK but it doesn’t make you look more impressive and isn’t directly UK related. It’s really for use by bigger organisations with multi-national presence. But don’t worry if you inherited a website with a .com – it can still be made to rank as well as a website based on a .co.uk domain.

There are lots of other domain names available these days, for example .dental, but they are a bit funky and it’s our recommendation that you can’t go wrong by selecting a .co.uk.

Do you need multiple domain names?

This is a question we often get asked and the answer in most cases is “no”. There are lots of unscrupulous types who would sell you random domain names stuffed with keywords and claim that they will help with your Google ranking. This is simply not the case as a domain name on its own i.e. without a website behind it, is not even going to be recognised by Google or indeed any other search engine. The only real reasons to have additional domain names are a) if you are going to use it with a website in future or b) for brand protection.

Where do you get domain names and how are they controlled?

Domains are available from “Registrars”. These are bodies who are approved by the main domain overseers to sell domain names. There are lots of them and if you do your due diligence, it should be easy enough to find somewhere reputable to register your domain names. That said, you may prefer to leave it in the hands of your marketing company to register on your behalf. Indeed here at Dental Media we look after hundreds of domain names on behalf of our clients, all registered in their names and renewed diligently at the appropriate time.

As part of our domain registration and website hosting service we also control what is known as the ‘DNS’ service which looks after how email is routed, how users find your website and more. All this is done under strict security protocols as you would expect. Basically we manage it all for you but ultimately the domain is under your control as you are logged as the formal registrant.

The main overseeing body for .co.uk domains is known as Nominet. If you have a .co.uk domain name, you can also log in to Nominet to undertake maintenance operations for it. The body doing a similar job for .com domains is known as ICANN – the Internet Corporation For Assigned Names And Numbers.

Do I own my domain names?

Actually no, you don’t ever own you domain name as such. It is effectively leased to you but is yours to use for however long you decide to renew it for. You can renew for one year right through to ten years in some cases. If you do decide to look after your own domain name and you think you’ll be hanging on to it for a period of time, then it’s likely best to set it to auto-renew at your chosen registrar. Too often we’ve had clients who were “managing” their own domains call us to report their websites were down. In virtually all cases, this was solely down to the fact that they’d forgotten to renew their domain name!

Choosing the right domain name for your business

We’ve covered this elsewhere in our blog in detail so we won’t recap too much here. Suffice to say that you need to consider a number of possibilities and then check to see if they are actually available. Memorable domain names are very hard to find these days but you can still register something personal and which your users will hopefully find easy to remember and use. Don’t worry about having keywords in domains as it makes little difference for search engine optimisation (SEO). Also try to keep your domain name as short as is practically possible – people still try to type web addresses directly into their browser or Google when they already know you, so try to make it as easy as possible for them.


Your domain name is a key asset when it comes to your web presence and needs to be maintained and managed diligently. If you lose it, for example by failing to renew it, or can’t transfer it should you ever need to due to incorrect credentials, then prepare for trouble.

The points above are the key ones you need to be aware of, even if you entrust a third-party with the management of your domain name.

Still need help on this or any other aspect of your web presence? Then please call the team at Dental Media on 01332 672548 for a no-obligation discussion and we’ll be pleased to help.