If you’re thinking of starting a new website, you’ll first need to choose a domain name. Coming up with a creative domain name that explains your brand can be difficult, but deciding on which extension you should choose can be a minefield.
The decision between .com vs .co.uk can be a conundrum, and many people simply opt for .com because they don’t really understand the difference. Depending on your website’s target audience, a .co.uk domain could actually be better.
To help you choose, we’re going to explain the differences between .com and .co.uk. This will help you decide which is best for your website.
What Is A Domain Extension?
Way back when you would have to type in the IP address of a website host if you wanted to communicate with another computer or network.
While this wasn’t a problem when there were only a handful of computers, now it would be an absolute nightmare. An IP address is a string of numbers that identify a computer on a network. However, with the use of VPNs, IP addresses can change.
What Is DNS?
Domain Name System (DNS) allows IP addresses to be paired with certain domain names. So, rather than typing in an IP address to access a website, you can type in a domain name that would take you to the same place.
For example, rather than typing the IP address for Google, you just type in Google.com as this is the domain name associated with the IP address.
However, on its own, this wasn’t good enough. People would have to memorise exact domain names, and the more people that created domains less became available.
To solve this issue, top-level domains (TLDs) were created. These allow you to sort domains into groups, making it easier for people to have the same domain name in different countries. An example of popular TLDs include:
TLDs actually serve specific purposes, telling users what kind of website a domain is attached to. Let’s take a quick look at some TLDs and what they actually mean.
.com is short for commercial. .com websites are commercial websites which is a fairly broad term. It can encompass a number of websites and is the most commonly used domain name extension.
.net is short for network. These are actually quite common now, but their original purpose was for network organisations. Internet service providers (ISPs) used to regularly use them, but now they serve a general purpose.
.org is short for organisation. Mostly, .org domain name extensions are used for non-profit organisations like charities. While you can find .org websites that aren’t non-profit, they tend to be more for community-based sites.
.gov is short for government. Most US government institutions use .gov, but other countries like the UK also use the extension with a regional extension, like .gov.uk
Country Code Domains
To differentiate websites even further, computers can now recognise country-level domains. For example, if you’re based in the UK and perform a Google search, you’re more likely to get .co.uk website results. Whereas if you’re in the US, you’re more likely to get .com results.
If your target audience is in the UK, it makes sense to create a .co.uk domain vs a .com domain. Similarly, if your target audience is in France, you would use a .fr domain extension.
Hopefully, now we’ve established what domain names are and the different types of extensions. Now it’s time to find out which domain name extension you should use, and why.
If you’re wondering which is best between .com vs .co.uk you can actually use both for a UK website. However, when someone is searching the internet, the differences between the domains can mean different focuses.
.com is widely known to be an international domain, and therefore a global website. Compared to .co.uk, .com doesn’t imply it’s just for UK visitors.
Because .com is so well known, many people associate .com to be legitimate. .com domains will attract traffic from all over the world, whereas a .co.uk domain may only bring people in from the UK. This is not only relevant to how Google directs traffic to your site, but also for people searching the internet.
It’s much more natural and common for people to type .com vs .co.uk. However, a .com domain may not be the best solution. Many .com domains will already be taken, and while you can use a domain name generator to find more creative names, they may not be suitable for your business.
Unfortunately, people make money out of nabbing domain names before they are purchased by other people. People will watch domain name trends and will predict what others may intend to purchase. Some domain names are worth literally thousands.
If you found a .com domain that you want but it’s already taken, chances are the .co.uk domain may be available. It’s also a lot easier to find a .co.uk domain because of this, and can often be cheaper.
.co.uk domains tend to generate more regional traffic. By this, we mean UK-related businesses will get more UK traffic directed to your website from search engines like Google. This does mean international traffic will be prioritised lower than UK traffic.
If you’re building a local business website, this comes at an advantage. If someone comes across a .co.uk website, they are more likely to realise they are dealing with a UK business.
Let’s look at an example. If you were trying to find UK web hosting and you came across a web host with a .co.uk domain extension, you may choose them over a .com host. Regional domains imply you will receive better customer service with the ability to contact support during times that suit your time zone. It also suggests UK servers will be available in places like London rather than the US – West Coast, for example.
However, if you own a .co.uk domain and want to encourage international traffic, it could put international customers off. If they see a .co.uk domain they may deem you to be a smaller company or one that doesn’t serve their area.
.com vs .co.uk – Reasons & Examples
Now that we know what a .com vs .co.uk domain can offer, let’s establish the reasons you’d want to choose them. We’ll also look at some examples to help you decide.
Why To Choose .com
- To attract international visitors
- Looks more legitamte
- Possibility to rank higher on Google searches
Examples of .com
- International companies
- UK-based companies that offer overseas shipping
- International traffic and target audience
- UK-based companies that serve UK and EU
Why To Choose .co.uk
- To attract UK-based visitors
- Support domestic services and shipping
- Reassure UK customers
- .com domain isn’t available
Examples of .co.uk
- Local businesses and tradespeople
- Real estate companies based in the UK
- International business that serves UK
- Local UK news
How To Choose A Good Domain Name
While your domain extension is important, so is choosing a good domain name. Your website may be just as successful as another website despite your domain name extension. However, if you don’t have a domain name that’s relevant to your business or that’s memorable, you could lose out on potential customers.
It’s no good choosing a domain name like “zebrastripes.com” if your business is a cake company. It wouldn’t mean anything and people searching for cake companies wouldn’t naturally choose it over one such as “julies-cakes.com”.
While there can be bias towards domain name extensions, people aren’t going to spend that much time deliberating over it. However, if your domain name isn’t relevant or memorable, they’re more likely to move onto another website.
You should spend some time considering what your brand is and what it represents. Long domain names may explain your business, but they are more likely to be misspelled or people simply won’t remember them.
If your ideal domain name is already taken, don’t worry too much. There are thousands of domain names up for grabs, it might just take some time choosing the right one.
If you’re still stuck on .com vs .co.uk after reading this article, don’t fret too much. There isn’t really a right or wrong, it ultimately depends on your requirements and your budget.
.com domain names are a great way to attract international visitors. However, if you find the perfect domain name with a .co.uk extension, there’s no reason you can’t use it. .com domains are harder to get hold of, and can often be more expensive.
If you have a UK-based business, a .co.uk domain is a pretty solid choice. .co.uk domains are generally cheaper and they’re more readily available.
Your best bet is to consider your choices and see what’s available for your domain name of choice.