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A domain name is what you type into a web browser in order to get directly to a website. For me, my domain name is www.lightbulbwebdesign.co.uk.
The .co.uk part is the 'top level domain' (TLD) - there are many choices of this out there, from the often-used .com through to much newer ones like .digital
How much do domain names cost?
Usually, domain names are cheap - a .co.uk domain name costs approximately £5 per year to hold, and a .com is around £10 per year. Some TLDs can be much more expensive, but for most businesses, a .co.uk or .com is all you need. Buying both can be useful to prevent anyone else using your brand or website name, however owning more than one domain name to use for a single website has little to no search benefits at all, so buying domain names to benefit your search results serves no purpose in nearly all cases.
Using more than one domain name
If you do have more than one domain name for your business, then we always recommend that you or your hosting provider set the additional domain names up with what is called a 301-Redirect.
A 301-Redirect makes anyone typing in one of your additional domain names be automatically redirected to your main website domain name. For example, we also own www.lightbulbwebdesign.com, however if you visit that domain name directly, it automatically takes you to the .co.uk website - this is essential, as otherwise search engines can think you have multiple websites with duplicate content, and be unsure of which to show in search results. In some cases, this can negatively affect your ranking as search engines are confused and rather than show one of your websites in search results, they may choose to show none.
Domain name scams
Over the years that Light Bulb Web Design has been in business, we have seen a growing number of companies cold-calling our clients and offering them additional domain names with the premise that these will either guarantee them page 1 search results, or have some other benefit to their business. As mentioned above, the search benefit is not a reason to have more than one domain name, so whatever the company wants to charge you, it is worthless beyond potentially keeping a domain name out of the hands of someone else who may have a business name similar to your own.
As domain name prices are so inexpensive, when these cold-calling companies are asking for significant amounts of money, often in the region of £200-300 to register one of the additional domain names for you, they are nearly always going to be rubbing their hands together in glee when people unfortunately believe their hype and pay out significantly more than is appropriate.
.uk domain names
A few years ago, Nominet (the company who manage and maintain all .uk and .co.uk domain name registrations) brought out the new .uk TLD - they offered this to any owners of .co.uk domain names as priority, so people got the chance to purchase this on top of their existing .co.uk domain name.
It is close to the time now where the .uk version of your domain name will be made available to the general market, allowing anyone to buy it. For example, if you own www.mywebsite.co.uk, at present Nominet allow only you to buy the www.mywebsite.uk domain name as well. When the time frame is at an end, anyone would be able to buy www.mywebsite.uk
Whether it is worth you buying the .uk version is almost impossible to answer - it will do you no benefit in search results, and will realistically only prevent someone else from buying it and having a website with a very similar domain name to yours. .uk domain names are still in the region of £5 per annum, so it can be worth it for peace of mind - anyone trying to sell you these at anything more than £5 a year, and suggesting there's any benefit to you in doing so beyond owning it yourself, is talking nonsense and should be ignored.
Do I need seperate hosting and a seperate website for each domain name I own?
No! Whether you own 2 domains or 2000, if you want all of them to work in browsers, each one should have a 301-Redirect set up so that your primary domain name is the one where people end up.
A 301-Redirect is free - beyond the few seconds involved with setting this redirect up, there is no charge anywhere to anyone for doing so and no ongoing fees for maintaining the redirect - one it is set up, it is there until someone turns it off.
You only need one website and one hosting charge. If it is suggested to you that each domain name needs its own hosting, and that you would need to pay for this per domain, again this is one to turn down and avoid. Beyond the annual fee to retain access to using the .uk domain name, there are no extra charges from anyone in order to do this, beyond possibly a sensible 'management fee' per annum to keep responsibility for managing your domain names.
We have never marked up domain names or hosting as part of our own pricing - if any of our clients wishes to have more than one domain name, each subsequent domain name is charged to them at the rate we pay - £5 per .co.uk and £10 per .com address.
We feel it is not appropriate to charge beyond these fees, since it takes no time at all for us to manage them on an annual basis - once purchased and set up with your website, there is no more work involved with the domain name itself at any stage, however many years the domain name is held.