Should I buy a .uk domain?

should i buy a .uk domainA client of mine was recently contacted by a domain selling service who wanted to sell them a .uk domain that included a keyword closely related to their business. The domain was available for the bargain price of £550. Oh, did I mention that doesn’t include VAT.

The salesperson said by investing in a .uk domain it “would link into your company website with all the correct SEO giving you better ranked positions on Google for the keyword”.

I’m changing the business category here for privacy reasons, however to explain what this means, let’s say the company was A Smith Accountants with the current domain of asmith.co.uk. They were being offered a domain that includes one of their core lines of business, following this example, it would be something like book-keeping.uk. Because it contains a keyword, their premise was the domain would rank highly in the search results for book keeping services.  All that traffic could then be redirected to the asmith.co.uk website and, as if by magic, they would get loads of new website visitors looking for booking keeping services.

Luckily for my client, they asked me whether this was a good idea and if they would benefit from more site visitors.

Before I give you the response, here’s a bit more background.

What is a .uk top level domain

The top level domain (TLD) is the part of your domain after the last dot – the .com, .net or .org that you’ll see at the end of many web addresses.  .uk TLDs have been around since 2015. If you owned the equivalent .co.uk domain you were given the first refusal on purchasing the associated .uk TLD. From 2019 the market opened up to everyone and many of the competitive keyword related .uk were snapped up….and are since being resold.

Do I need a .uk TLD?

If your domain name is for your business, if budget permits, it is a good idea to buy your domain name with the most common domain extensions, such as .co.uk, .uk, .com, .net, and .org, mainly to stop other people getting hold of them and either setting up a competitive offering or holding you ransom.  With .uk being a fairly new TLD and one that is purely associated with the UK, it won’t do any harm to get the .uk version and redirect to your normal domain.

However what we are talking about here is registering keyword associated .uk domains for your lines of business or sub-brands alongside your main company domain.

Does having keywords in your domain help you rank higher?

Yes it can do but far less than it used to and there are other factors at play.  Namely if you only use the keyword domain to redirect to your normal website domain homepage, it may cause more harm than good.

There are instances where registering an additional domain name could help more people get to your site.  If you direct people to the appropriate place on your site and make that page relevant to that line of business, it can help people find what they’re looking for more easily. Take Apple, which has iphone.com redirected to the iPhone section of its main website.

But if you just redirect the keyword domain to your homepage, google will index both domains and may look at this as duplicate content and penalise you for it.

To prevent that you need to set up a 301-redirect – forward the domain to your main domain. If you 301-redirect a domain, it will never be indexed, because the “301 error” is a message to Google that “sorry, this URL doesn’t exist, here is the ‘real’ one you should pay attention to.” The flipside of that is if the domain isn’t indexed by Google because you’re forwarding it, it won’t do you any good from an SEO perspective – it doesn’t exist in Google’s eyes so has no value whatsoever. A catch-22.

Confused?  The simple message is, don’t bother buying a keyword related .uk domain if all you are going to do is redirect it to your home page. It won’t benefit your site and if you have to pay the premium price of £550, it will hurt your bottom line far more.  There are plenty of other more effective ways to optimise your website for a similar or cheaper budget – content, social, links and reviews to name but a few. If you need some honest suggestions for optimisation, please get in touch,