Do you use a .EU domain?

MAshup of Union and EU flags, Image result for brexit

Brexit was always going to have problems and issues for businesses but none expected it to have an impact on business domain names.

Well, until Easter 2018 anyway, which was when a major problem for businesses was announced in well known and respected technology news site, The Register.

You probably chose your .EU domain for a really good reason, you want the world to know that either you are an EU-based business or your market is the EU, for example.

Brexit and the .EU domain

However, as a result of Brexit, the EU has announced that all .EU domains registered by UK businesses (and individuals) will be revoked on B-Day (Brexit Day) 31st March 2018

What this means is that if you are one of the 300,000 UK organisations or individuals who has registered a .EU domain you might well see your website disappear overnight.

Obviously, continental domain registrars may well take advantage of this, offering to take on your domain and “fix” the problem for a (presumably large) fee, but that also has issues. The European Commission has hinted it is unhappy with that arrangement too; they will no longer allow you to own an .eu domain (that’s their whole point), so you are putting yourself at some commercial risk (similar to not owning IP in any products you make), and the EU is legally bound to prefer “the good of the EU” in any contractual dispute. Thankfully though, there are alternatives:

What’s in a (domain) name?

It’s not just your web site that could be affected, your email system, security certificates for encryption and e-commerce, and possibly even remote access to company assets for sales staff might be impacted too.

It will vary, obviously, depending on how you are set up, but checking this now is very sensible.

Perhaps the best approach is to do two things

  1. Immediately register a suitable .UK domain, and
  2. Point your .EU web traffic to it as soon as possible.

You have a choice of .uk domain name, and you can still represent your EU connection in it, if that’s crucial. For example,

bloggs-transport.eu

might change to,

bloggs-transport-eu.uk

We realise this isn’t ideal, but the second name is safe as it can’t be affected by any disruption the EU Commission might cause. You would have normal rights to the name, under English law, and, if it’s done right, there’s almost a whole year for your clients to get used to your new URL. Thus the risk is minimised, and it becomes one aspect of Brexit that can’t hurt you further commercially.

If this change goes ahead—and this is much more likely than unlikely in our opinion—you have less than a year for clients to become used to the change. This isn’t something to hesitate over: the implication is that no redirection will be possible after 31st March 2019, so at that point your site will simply vanish off the internet. People may even think you’ve gone bust!

Right now, you have enough time for this NOT to become an expensive issue. The longer you leave this one, the more electronic business disruption is likely to cost you come Brexit day.

If you have a .eu domain and you are worried, please get in touch: 01793 238020 andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk, the fixes are mostly straightforward and inexpensive to implement (without disruption, if you act quickly enough).

Domain Name Nightmares

LBC logo

I’ve just started listening to the phone-in shows on London Broadcasting Company [LBC] on DAB, many of which make for interesting listening.

Of course, this means that I have to listen to the adverts, by far the majority of which are targeted specifically at LBC’s London audience. Although I tend to tune-out, two in particular caught my attention , although not for the reasons that the advertisers would like. They reminded me of issues associated with the importance of choosing the right domain name for your business, issues that I thought had been put to bed years ago.

In my experience, most organisations choose their domain name based on their business name “bbc.co.uk” for example, the sector they trade in “diy.com” and/or based on a product they sell or a service they deliver “windows.com”, for example.

The choice of name would be either discussed or shared by email internally, very rarely were domain names discussed and shared in print and this must be why some absolute howlers were registered. The problem being that something that looks good or ‘cool’ in print can be a nightmare to communicate verbally and a domain name that sounds good could send totally the wrong message when viewed in print.

Take “phones4you” as a company name, it “does what it says on the tin” selling mobile phones for you, although the “for” was replaced by “4” to shorten the domain and imitate text speak. Phones4You were lucky to be backed by an expensive TV and print campaign. Imagine, as a small business with a small marketing budget trying to convey the web address in a phone call, “its phones4you.com, that’s phones 4 – the digit 4 not the word – you dot com”.

There were others too, such as Speedofart.com, a London based video production agency, the domain name sounds fine when spoken but has an issue when written down.

Then there’s the Italian power generating company, PowerGen Italia, sounds fine when spoken but looks less good in writing, imagine receiving an email from powergenitalia.com [although this was later proven to be a spoof], unlike pen supplier Pen Island whose domain “penisland.net” is more “Carry On” than they probably would like.

It’ OK having a giggle at some of these but the reality is that many of these websites may not be visible to their target audience, especially where the businesses they are targeting use web-filtering devices to ensure that their personal can only access appropriate websites.

Domain names like this also cause SEO confusion because the search engines have to guess the words from the alphabet-soup of letters and yet the solution is simple, use a hyphen or two, and the intention is immediately visible, speed-of-art.com and pen-island.net for example.

So, back to LBC and the two adverts that set me thinking, one is for a London based Cloud Service provider called Xara Cloud. The voice-over had to enunciate each letter X, A, R, A Cloud to make sure that potential clients did not confuse the X with Z and the second was for Buy2let cars where the voiceover tried to emphasize the 2 but totally failed to communicate whether it was Buy2LetCars, BuyToLetCars or BuyTooLetCars.

The moral of this is simple, when thinking of a domain name, make sure that it looks good in print and is easy to communicate verbally if it’s not, then go back to the drawing board.

I might not be able to undo any domain names that you have registered but I can certainly help with the majority of internet marketing issues that you have, so why not give me a call on 01793 238020 or drop me a line, andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk for an informal and free chat about your issues and how I may be able to help.

What your email address says about you and your business.

Getting the right email address

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while now and was reminded again about the message your email address sends when I was following a van recently. The van was sign written [good], carried a large phone number [good], web address in significantly smaller [not so good] http://www.jobbingtrader.co.ukand an email address, not just any email but a Hotmail address [awful], jobbing-trader13@hotmail.com [names have been changed to protect my health].

This is wrong on so many levels.

First off – a Hotmail address, really! In fact any free email address, such as one from Gmail, Yahoo, Virgin, BTInternet or AOL to name but a few really does send the wrong message!

Secondly, it also shouts “I don’t understand”. After all, it’s far easier to remember an email address when the bit that goes after the @ is the same that goes after the www. and you are getting twice the chance of people remembering your contact details

Thirdly, you are missing out on so many opportunities to better manage your email, you can have multiple addresses, info@, sales@, accounts@, enquiries@, myname@ to name just a few. You can then set up folders in your email program for each address and easily create rules which automatically filter incoming emails and move them to the relevant folder.

With each part of your business having a unique email address means that everything is a little easier to prioritise and manage. As an example, you could look at sales@ first because these might be new contracts, accounts@ next because these relate to money and myname@ last because these are more likely to be personal in nature.

All of the above can be easily achieved if you have your own web address because each web address can usually have more than one email address and most email programs enable you to set up folders and create rules.

Managing your emails in this way will help you to present a more professional look to the outside world and enable you to be more effective when it comes to managing your emails and the way that you act, save, delete and back them up. You do back up your emails don’t you?

If you have any questions about your email services, don’t hesitate to get in touch blog@enterprise-oms.co.uk [did you see what I did there?] or give me a call on 01793 238020

What do the new domain name options mean?

Are new domains worth it for businesses?

More than 1,000 new domain names could soon be available.

New domain names up for grabs
New domain names up for grabs

I was watching TV the other night when up popped an advert for a large and well know web hosting company advertising the forthcoming availability of more than 700 new domain name extensions, known as gTLDs or global Top Level Domains.

Most of us are familiar with the likes of .com, and .co.uk, you’re probably familiar with .info, .net and .eu but ICAAN, the association charged with managing domain names, is currently evaluating over 1,000 new options – how does .accountant, .book or even .zip strike you? They are just 3 under consideration.

When visiting websites it will mean that we will all have to pay more attention to domain extensions to make sure we get to the sites we want, the search engines will face a challenge to deal with this potential explosion in domain extensions whilst domain registration agencies, ruthless marketing companies, consultancies and cybersquatters may feel that their .ship is about to sail in because it’s unlikely that these new gTLDs will be policed.

Very few are, for example .org was always meant to be used by charities and not-for-profit organisations but was quickly hijacked by businesses when the more common .com and .co.uk options had already been registered although .ltd or .gov can only be registered if you are a Limited company or a genuine government department but these controlled domains are in the minority.

Businesses may be sold more domains than they actually need by being told they need to protect their brand and to prevent cybersquatting whilst cybersquatters may jump on the opportunity to make a quick buck by registering the domain names of well-known companies in the hope of holding them to ransom, expecting a large payoff to sell the domains on to them.

Although legislation was passed to outlaw some of the more ruthless scams it’s not actively policed and this explosion in new domains may make Cybersquatting too tempting to resist and could bring the Cybersquatters back in droves as they look to capitalise on these new opportunities and confusion.

To protect your business against cybersquatting you need to make sure your company name is properly registered and trademarked. This will mean that you can use the law to claim what is yours should you fall victim to cybersquatting but it still leaves one question unanswered, which domain names should you register?

Simply put .co.uk and .com are the ones uppermost in people minds so you should always register these and then choose carefully from the new ones and only register those that are really relevant to your business and sector that you trade in.

If you want to talk more help with domain names, websites and online marketing in more detail please email me, andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or give me a call on 01793 238020