Domain Names – how to choose?

Registering a domain name

Firstly, you register a domain name rather than buy one. No-one owns their domain name outright, and you have to keep registering it to ensure it doesn’t fall into anyone else’s hands.

Should your domain be the same as your business name?

If it matters to you, yes, try and match your business name to your domain name and if you have a local business with a shop front, for example, this makes perfect sense.

Alternatively, you could brand your online business with a more appropriate name if it is just going to be an online store.

Should your domain name contain keywords?

From our experiences, good quality domains with exact keywords convert well. If you are searching for something specific and the domain name comes up in the results with those words in it – the searcher will think they have reached the right site and that you specialise in it.

How long should domain names be?

Keep it short – around three words at most, two is perfect and make it meaningful. If you have gone through a branding process – what have you found? What words describe your business? Is location important? Should you add a place name in your domain name?

What about hyphens in domain names?

Generally, we avoid using hyphens as it makes the site look spammy. There is no ranking benefit from using keywords in a domain name.

Should you register variants? 

People search in all kinds of ways and registering an ‘s’ for the plural is often worthwhile. If your name can be misspelt easily, purchasing that variant can also be of benefit. Also, purchasing variants can block future competitors from registering a variant of your name.

There are many domain name extensions, and to register .net, org, .biz, .info, and .co is a defensive tactic. Still, if you have someone in a developing country that picks up on your successful business and registers a close variant, it is expensive to hire lawyers to challenge the competitor’s registration.

What if the .com has been registered?

If the .com has been registered, and unless it is a keyword domain, then it may not be worth developing a site that someone else owns the .com version of. If nothing is happening on that .com version, it is possibly OK.

Be aware of previously registered domains.

If Google has penalised a registered name in the past and you purchase the name, you may find that it becomes impossible to rank. This may be because the spammer allowed the registration lapse and it appears on the market again. To check if it has been registered previously go to (known as the Wayback Machine) and it will show on their interactive timeline whether the site was previously registered.

It is doubtful that you would discover if the site had a previous penalty until you found it impossible to rank.

If you are starting a new business and want to discuss domain names and branding, please don’t hesitate to give us a call on 01403 292 120 or 07572 422 303. We’d be happy to help and give you the benefit of our advice.

A Nightmare Before Christmas for our local businesses

Like many other local business owners out there, I am worried about what will happen to our High Streets, hospitality, travel and other smaller businesses.

There are so many that have spent thousands of their hard-earned cash to make their businesses Covid safe to get them through the winter. The run-up to Christmas is vital to sustain them through January and February and with doors closed and no footfall, we will see the online giants benefit once again.

This lockdown is more serious than the last and will sound the death-knell for many and is so ironic that it came on Halloween of all days. Financial support can only go so far – businesses have rates and rents to pay and pubs and small breweries are likely to be brought to their knees.

Many are better prepared to deal with a second lockdown with take-away services ready to roll for the second time but this next month is a crucial trading period for our high streets.

Customers who want to support their local shops will struggle to do so if only the food outlets are open. Many gift shops are too small to have online stores. Etsy, Amazon and eBay take a large cut if you sell on their platforms, then you have the shipping to pay and a percentage to your merchant bank per transaction which leaves many retailers wondering whether it is worth it. You can set up your own shop on platforms like Shopify, but you still have costs, shipping, merchant costs and marketing plus the time it takes you to enter every product, description and photograph it and then work out your shipping cost. This is not something that is undertaken lightly or quickly.  

However, that’s not the point. People want to shop on their High Streets; they want the opportunity to browse, and to work locally as well as to put something back into their local community. Orders have been placed for large items that may not now arrive before Christmas, or kitchens and bathrooms that were hoped to be installed. Delays on these push other customers back further into 2021 and beyond.

Yes, we have to protect the NHS and the elderly, but this is a time when our communities, need to come together and work together for the good of their towns and cities. We see endless images on social media, and the news, of people disregarding advice. There have always been world problems and threats, it’s nothing new, but you have to take the bull by the horns and make those life choices. So, we have to pull together.

Sadly, this lockdown is likely to cause more deaths not just from cancer and heart disease, but suicides from job losses and bankruptcies and many mental illnesses. People need to see one another, share struggles, get support from friends and like-minded individuals, not being able to do that is damaging for the individual, and their whole family. People need to believe in a future for themselves and their family.

We need to be supporting start-ups which will create new jobs in the future. There are some great ideas out there but, as people are at the moment, they don’t have the funding to get things off the ground. Instead of paying people for being on furlough, why not offer them an income while they launch their own business?

And, then on top of that, we have Brexit! That’s been forgotten this weekend. We have been assured for months that everything will be sorted – and deadline after deadline has passed with nothing concrete on the table. Our fishing industry has always been a bone of contention with the French, but it makes you think if we can’t even produce a successful Track & Trace App that we can be proud of, what chance do will our manufacturers have when goods are stuck both sides of the channel? How many more businesses will have to stop work? It won’t be because of Covid but down to paperwork, policies and the inevitable red-tape.

A winter of discontent? Likely. We can but hope there is a glimmer at the end of the rainbow.

As a final word, we are around to help local businesses in East and West Sussex. Take a look at our first article on surviving Covid, or if you want to talk about your website, marketing, SEO and what you can be doing during the lockdown to ensure your business is in the best place to come out of it fighting, please don’t hesitate to give us a call or email – 07572 422303. We will help where we can.

E-commerce and multi-channel marketing

E-commerce and multi-channel selling is more important than ever

During the lockdown, businesses have found that just selling their products on one channel is not enough and have turned to multi-channel and their own e-commerce stores. Those that have been able to adapt have faired better than those who have had restrictions from their online platforms. 

In recent months, we saw that Amazon stopped sellers from selling any items deemed ‘non-essential’ and this resulted in a backlog of orders for some companies, damaging reputations and has seen some businesses refunding orders which then couldn’t be fulfilled.

Some sellers saw their accounts suspended when platforms suddenly experienced a surge in sales which left their competitors to dive in and take advantage. 

Our advice, therefore, is to look to sell through multi-channels and platforms as you can manage. Make sure you are in control and avoid third parties making decisions which could affect your sales and preventing you from trading.

What are the options for opening an online shop?

Let’s look at the marketplace. You have eBay, Etsy and Amazon and the benefits are that they are easy to set up and access. Your product listing on a site as these should be searchable and simple to manage. 

These marketplaces are not perfect. Not only do they have control over everything on their channel, they decide whether they allow you to sell and can turn you off. They can also take advantage of high-selling items. AmazonBasics is just that – they make a similar product to items that are selling well and can become your direct competition. 

Social Media platforms also offer eCommerce solutions for small businesses. On Facebook Shop, you can import your product directly to your Facebook Account to sell. Instagram and WhatsApp work similarly, and Instagram also offers gift cards.

For hairdressers or other service types, who have not yet opened since lockdown, gift cards are a great way to keep the cash coming in, but you need to recognise that time has to be allowed on re-opening to book in these customers who have already paid.

Setting up your own online shop

Having your own e-commerce store will give you the maximum amount of control and ensure you will always be able to sell online.

The ‘new’ normal is probably never going to see the same amount of customers through your door unless a vaccine becomes available, and ‘walk-ins’ and ‘impulse buys’ will become less frequent. Therefore, online purchases will become essential, and repeat purchases will be your ‘bread and butter’.

You can set up your own online shop using a platform such as Shopify or WooCommerce however, some people find this difficult and wish they had used a website designer or agency to do this for them.

When you set up your own e-commerce store, it will need marketing – you won’t see the same levels of sales as you did via the other marketplaces. Consider that you will need support to find the best ways to drive traffic to your website; you will need SEO; remarketing; social media and other marketing and perhaps Google Ads when you start on this journey. Although there won’t be additional fees, there will still be fees that you need to consider. It will net you more profits, but you will have to market your website. 

If you want to discuss possibilities, we can talk you through the pros and cons via a Zoom meet or other virtual chat channel – give us a call on 07572 422303.

Fine Marketing sponsors Best Environmental Business Award

Fine Marketing is sponsoring the Best Environmental Business Award at the Seahaven Business Awards 2019 for the second consecutive year.

Julia Johnson, Director of Fine Marketing, said ‘We really hope to see entries from businesses committed to a greener future particularly those supporting renewable energy sources and combatting climate change. There are some brilliant local businesses in the area, and their great work often goes unrecognised.’

There are seven different awards for Business of the Year, Business Person of the Year, Best Customer Service, Best Environmental Business, Best New Business, Best Eatery and this year, the President’s Award is for the Best Health, Wellbeing and Beauty Business.

Businesses in the BN9, BN25 and BN10 postcodes are eligible to enter as well as those that trade within the Seaford, Newhaven and Peacehaven area.

The Judges include both local MPs, Maria Caulfield and Lloyd Russell-Moyle, The Mayor of Newhaven and the Presidents of Newhaven, Seaford and Peacehaven Chambers of Commerce.

This year’s event will be attended by HM Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, Peter Field and Ambassador An from the Vietnamese Embassy.
Oliver Sutton, Director of Fine Marketing, commented ‘We are very privileged to work within such a dynamic part of the south-east and particularly with other like-minded business leaders who are passionate about making a difference and giving back to their local community.’

The 16th annual Seahaven Business Awards are organised by the Newhaven Chamber of Commerce, in association with the Peacehaven and Seaford Chambers of Commerce. Entries can be submitted via the Newhaven Chamber of Commerce website: and the closing date is Friday, 29th March 2019. Winners will be announced at a special Gala Dinner in Peacehaven, on Friday, 10 May 2019.