John Stewart, marketing director of a video firm, emailed us to ask, 'Where should I register my domains?' There are a number of domain registries around the world (for a reasonably complete list see www.uninett.no/navn/domreg.html). To answer John's question, you need to divide the registration process into three priority categories, which we think of as:
- 1 We must.
- 2 We probably should.
- 3 If we can afford it.
The musts are registering all your main trading territories (in other words, <yourname>.uk for the UK, .com for the US, .fr for France, .au for Australia, and so on). Within a given territory there may be a choice of subdomains, so here in the UK, for example, commercial sites can exist under .co.uk, .ltd.uk, .plc.uk or .uk.com. Our advice is to stick with .co.uk for now, as this is what the UK public expects to find. Adopting .uk.com just serves to confuse folk (and some DNS servers too). Don't worry about registering .ltd.uk or .plc.uk domains to protect your name, as the rules for these subdomains mean speculative registration simply isn't possible. As well as registering within your current trading territories think about your corporate expansion plans. If you plan to open a Tokyo office within two years then register a .jp domain now.
The 'probably' category includes registering <yourname>.com (even if you don't trade in the US), as that's considered to be a 'global' domain. Also, if your product is associated with a particular country (like tequila with Mexico, for example), and your brand image makes use of that country connection, you may gain some credibility from having a domain registered in that territory.
Finally, for the 'If you can afford it', make a list of all of the domain registries where you aren't currently registered. Now try and rank the countries concerned in terms of Internet usage (Internet Sales maintains a good list of such data at www.internet-sales.com/hot/size.shtml). Keep picking off domains from the top of this list until your budget runs out. Some national registries may require you to have a corporate presence in that country before a domain can be obtained - whether you feel it's worth incorporating a branch of your company in Iceland in order to get the domain video.is is a decision only you can make.Once you have a clutch of domains registered, you should initially point them all at the same site, and promote only one of them (either .com, or .mx for the tequila example). The .co.uk and similar domains will be useful to mop up visitors who type in a URL while trying to locate your company. When the site is established you might use these local domains to supply country-specific details; a UK-only promotion, for example.
If you're using Active Server Pages it's easy to detect which domain has been used to access the page, as the following code shows: <% If Request.ServerVariables("Server_Name") = "www.sitename.co.uk" Then %> Special offer for UK visitors, blah blah blah ... <% End If %> That way you won't annoy visitors by showing them offers, promotions or competitions they can't enter (Microsoft please take note).
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