The first topic we cover with our new clients is usually “How to Choose a Good Domain Name”. We’ve been helping businesses and organizations with websites for over 15 years, there is strategy and logic that comes into play when choosing a domain name and keeping it.
Domain Name Choices
It’s not a bad thing to have more than one domain name that leads to your website, however, you will want to choose one main domain name to use the majority of the time. Start by brainstorming keywords that describe what type of service or organization you are. If your business already has keywords in its name consider using it for your website. But remember, you’re going to want to keep your domain name short, easy to type and easy to remember.
What Domain Extension Should I Purchase?
More and more domain extensions have come on the market, .com and .net aren’t your only options anymore. There is everything from .photography to .tv available for purchase now. These extensions have their benefits, for example, we use http://unionmade.website to promote our union website services because it’s obvious that URL will lead a union website company. It’s recommended to use a .com address as your main domain as this is the most common domain extension and Apple devices even have a .com key on their keyboards.
With all of the domain options out there costing between $12 and $20 a year don’t be afraid to purchase a couple of them and monitor your website statistics to see which ones are being used and how users are getting to them. We also recommend using a separate domain name for your company’s email addresses to cut down on spam. For more information about choosing a domain name check out this article from Moz.com.
Keeping Your Domain Name Safe
You’ve picked the right domain name, you’ve shared it with everyone and even have it etched on your building, but then one day you go to open your website and it’s not there. What happened? You’ve forgotten to renew your domain name at the registrar.
Getting Your Domain Name Back
If you’re lucky when your domain expired a contact called and said their email bounced back when they tried to contact you. So you forwarded their message to your website developer and they reminded you to go renew your domain name ASAP. In this case the domain name was not out of the 30 day redemption window yet, so you can pay an $80-$200 fee and get your domain back out of expiration status. Whew, close one.
On the not so lucky side, you didn’t notice emails bouncing and didn’t notice your website wasn’t up at your domain URL. It’s been over 30 days since it expired and someone else purchased your domain name. This is legal and one of three things can now happen.
- You contact the new owner and they tell you that the domain can be purchased from them for ANY amount they name. We’ve seen this number in thousands before. Ouch.
- You contact the new owner and they say they’re happy with the new domain name and they are keeping it, it’s not for sale back.
- You don’t see a new website at your domain, just a registrar’s page. You can initiate a domain backorder on the domain name and after a year if the new owner doesn’t renew the domain name and you win it back into your hands. But for a year you have neither a website nor email, not really an option.
All of these options carry at least an $80 fee, that’s a big deal when you only spent $20 a year on the domain name. If you’re not willing to pay the domain ransom you’re going to buy a new domain name
Steps for Moving to a New Domain Name
- Buy a new domain name.
- Point your website hosting to the new domain name. You did renew your website hosting right? If not contact the web host, if you’re lucky they still have your files around and you can renew services with them. If they don’t have your files then you’ll be creating a new website unless your web developer backed up your website files and can restore them for you.
- Create new email accounts at the new domain name and notify all contacts of your new email address. All emails sent to your old email address can now be received by the new domain owner if they setup a catch all on the domain’s email.
- Update signs, vehicles, stationary, etc. This is where things get expensive and you may rethink paying the domain ransom.
How to Avoid Losing Your Domain Name
We recommend buying your domain name for 10 years at a time, that’s about $200 total for peace of mind, it pays for itself considering the expiration redemption fee is $80-$200. Put sticky note under the calendar on the wall with the domain expiration date on it so every year you see it and know when the date is coming up. At that time go into your registrar account, update your credit card and renew for another 10 years.
You can also leave your domain name in the hands of a website host or a website development company, but again if credit cards aren’t renewed or bills aren’t paid you could have your domain name lost or held for ransom. We’ve had clients come to us with stories of their previous web development company closing and disappearing, taking their files and domain names with them.
Our policy at Appletree MediaWorks is to have our clients keep their domain names in their own personal registrar accounts and we keep a list of their expiration dates in office so when an expiration date is approaching we can remind clients to renew their domain names.