How to register a .uk name
As of 8am on 10th June 2014, Nominet (the non-profit organisation who has administered UK domain names since 1996) has launched a new domain name extension .uk.
This provides a short alternative to the existing .co.uk and is likely to gain increasing popularity with time.
A lot of domain name registrars are currently raising false hopes and allowing people to go through the motions of registering the domain, only to then refuse the registration and refund the money. This is because if a .co.uk or other existing UK extension is already registered, the equivalent .uk domain is automatically reserved for them for 5 years (until 10th June 2019).
You can use the Rights lookup tool in the right-hand column on www.dotuklaunch.uk/faq/how-will-it-work to see who owns the right to a particular .uk extension (this is normally the .co.uk owner so to keep things simple, we’ve used this as the example for the rest of this article).
I already own the .co.uk extension, what should I do?
If you are one of the ten million existing UK domain holders, then you should register your .uk domain name with the same registrar as you used for the .co.uk name and with the same owner’s details. No-one other than you can register it for five years, so there’s no rush!!
You can then either choose to keep the .co.uk name and forward (301 redirect) the .uk to it, or you can change to the .uk name and 301 redirect your existing .co.uk name to the new .uk extension. You could also create 2 separate websites, but that would probably just confuse your visitors.
If you choose to use the .uk extension as your main domain, then it’s also important to tell Google that you’ve changed your web address. To do this, add both to a Webmaster Tools account and then:
- On the Webmaster Tools Home page, click the site you want.
- Click the gear icon , then Change of Address.
- Click Select a verified site to select the new site.
By both telling Google of the change of address and 301 redirecting the old domain to the new, you will keep the value of any links going to the old site and visitors will be forwarded to the new address, which is essential for SEO.
What if I don’t own the .co.uk?
If no-one owns any of the other UK extensions then you will still be able to register it, so check that first.
If it is already owned then wait until 10th June 2019 and try and grab it then! Alternatively you could choose a different .co.uk or go for the traditional .com, .net, .org, etc. During 2014 there is also a steady stream of over 700 gTLDs (Global Top Level Domains) being launched, which gives you plenty of choice.
If you buy a non-UK extension but want to specifically target customers in the UK, then for SEO it’s best to set your Geotargeting with Google to the United Kingdom. To do so:
- On your Webmaster Tools Home page, click the site you want.
- Click the gear icon then Site Settings.
- In the Geographic target section, select the United Kingdom.
If you ever change your mind on this or your target audience becomes global, repeat the above process but choose Unlisted in the drop-down list.
Policy for .uk domain names
The policy for .uk domain names states that:
Existing domain addresses e.g. example.co.uk, have 5 years in order to change or add example.uk to their business.. After five years (07.59 am 10th June 2019), if this hasn’t been processed then anyone can buy the example.uk domain name.
However there is an order of preference for those people who have similar domain names.
So if after the 5 years none of the above example.co.uk / org.uk / me.uk / net.uk / ltd.uk / plc.uk have registered then the domain name example.uk will be offered into the public market place.
Why the new domain name?
You may ask why Nominet have introduced this shortened domain name? It is designed to let companies tailor their online offerings to UK shoppers / customers e.g. allowing companies to create advertising campaigns or a set of deals to meet UK buyers specific tastes.
The research conducted by Nominet stated that:
- 75% of British internet users prefer sites ending in .uk /. fr / .de etc. as they are then informed as to the location of the business.
- 93% of people preferred the shorter .uk to the other options.
- 73% of businesses said that they would change their domain to .uk.
Nominet have confirmed that over 50,000 firms have jumped at the chance to register their .uk domain names within the first 24 hours and it seems likely that over the next 5 years it will increasingly become the norm.
Other Extensions in Europe
If you're interested in buying a domain name elsewhere in Europe, then you may want to check out our map of all the European domain name extensions for both cities and countries.