UK companies are opting for .uk domain names over .coms in order to project a positive UK company image to users, according to a study by internet names organisation Nominet.

"A domain name is as important to modern business as a telephone number," said Dr Willie Black, managing director of Nominet UK, somewhat unsurprisingly. "This survey demonstrates that companies believe their use of a .uk domain name will help them attract and retain customers."

But this seemingly obvious puff appears to be backed up by research. Seventy percent of the 500 people questioned admitted to registering a UK name for this very reason, with over half of the companies planning to register a domain name in the next 12 months opting for UK endings.

"We chose a UK ending simply because our site is for the UK and it just makes the site easier to find," said a spokesperson at retail outlet Argos.co.uk.

Many reasons were cited for choosing UK endings; the most popular (44 percent) was that it simply denoted the company was from the UK. Twenty-three percent said it promoted images of reliability and 21 percent said .uk meant quality.

"UK companies are becoming increasingly aware of their image on the internet and are choosing domain names which reflect their values," said Andrew Pinder, the government's e-envoy.

But some believe the move away from .coms is for other reasons.

"People are moving away from .com as [it is] a label attached to failure, following all the collapses last year," said a spokesperson at domain registration company dotFM. "I think people will some do the same to .uk names in order to stay ahead of the current trends."