When you choose the website address for your business, you may wonder which business domain name ending (called a top-level domain or TLD) will work best. Most commonly, the choice you will be faced with is either .com or .co.uk. But which one is the right choice for your organisation?
Domestic or international?
To some extent, the choice depends on the type and scale of your business. Most domestic businesses will benefit from having a .co.uk address, as this identifies you as being in the UK.
Some searchers will be reassured by this if they’re specifically looking for a UK business – in fact, many may even ignore .com domains in search results if it’s not immediately clear where the business is based, or set their search to filter for just .co.uk results.
A .co.uk TLD could also boost your search engine results for domestic searchers, by making your site appear more UK-relevant – although this is down to the individual search engine.
A UK business which has ambitions to serve international customers will probably benefit from having both .co.uk and .com addresses.
Do I need more than one domain name?
Generally not. But if the domain name you want to register is quite desirable, there may be other competing businesses who’d be interested in the same URL.
In that case, you’d be advised to register all common domain name endings so that nobody else can take them, either maliciously or by accident.
For example, a company in Preston manufacturing jimbobs who registered ‘northernjimbobs.co.uk’ could find a competitor in Yorkshire registers ‘northernjimbobs.com’ – resulting in misdirected traffic, confused customers and eroded brand identity for both businesses.
Cost and registration periods
The cost and convenience of each option are also issues to be considered. A .co.uk registration currently needs to be renewed every two years, while .com addresses can be registered for ten years.
The annual cost of a .co.uk address is generally about half that for a .com name, although for the majority of website domains, neither cost is excessive.
If I register more than one domain name ending, do I need more than one website?
No. You can set up one or more addresses to redirect to a single website (a ‘301 redirect’), which won’t hurt your search engine rankings.
You could also consider having one .co.uk website for UK customers, and a .com site with much of the same information targeted to international customers.
This article was originally published on 30 March 2012, and updated on 16 December 2020.