Originally published November, 2017. Modified November, 2022
I’m not talking about how much you paid for your domain name – I’m talking about how much value your domain name has to your company or organization. It’s tempting to think your domain name has little value. When you built your website, it’s cost was probably a fraction of your overall outlay.
Your Domain Name is the Most Valuable Component of Your Website
You may be surprised to find out that the most valuable component of your website is your domain name, and you should know how to preserve your use of your domain name. A website can be recreated; a domain name cannot. Your domain name becomes eponymous with your company over time and is a major cornerstone of modern branding.
DomainPeople.com puts it simply:
“Even though a domain name is not something tangible like a car or a boat, it can have far more importance to a company than anything that can be picked up and carried away by a thief. A single record of registration is used as the gateway to an online market of billions. The domain name is tied into print media, web site links, email addresses. It is embedded in the fabric that binds the real world to the online world.”
To illustrate how important your domain name is to your company, what would happen if you suddenly lost your domain name, perhaps due to something as simple as not having updated contact information for the domain with your domain registrar?
- Your email may stop working – if you have email account(s) using your domain name, such as firstname.lastname@example.org, it will stop working. And old emails in a webmail box could also be deleted. Your clients won’t be able to contact you via email, and business will come to a halt.
- You may lose access to important accounts, such as social media, banking, vendor or service websites because your email address no longer works, and you may not be able to reset your account information or change your credit card information, resulting in a domino effect of other services being cancelled for non-payment.
- New customers won’t be able to find you on the web. New business will dry up, because no one can find you via the internet, which is how the vast majority of customers find business in this modern age.
- All external links to your site from sister-sites, chambers of commerce, directories, etc. will go “nowhere”, which in this case means either a landing page from your hosting company saying that the domain is for sale (which looks really unprofessional), or worse, to someone else’s website, because…
- Someone else can now purchase your domain name and all of the search engine traffic and pages rankings that come with it!
As KickstartCommerce.com says:
“That’s why it’s extremely important no business owner or person can ever afford to allow their domain names to be lost, stolen or expire under any circumstance. It’s like losing ocean front property or prime real estate in Times Square.”
What a mess!
Let’s say this happens to you – now what to do? Well, if you are unable to get back your domain, you will have to purchase a new domain name and start rebuilding your online presence and reputation, which will cost your company or organization considerable time and money.
- You can’t preserve your page ranking, because you won’t be able to redirect your old domain to your new domain, so say auf wiedersehen to page 1 of Google Search Results.
- Your website will need to be updated to reflect the new domain name and emails.
- You will need to contact any previous and current clients letting them know to update your contact information, which is a significant amount time and money for your business.
- You will need to update or even recreate any social media accounts associated with your business, which can be very complicated. If you have to recreate the accounts, you will lose the audience associated with those accounts, and have to start again.
- Any print material you had, such as business cards, brochures, posters, signs, etc. is outdated, so there’s the additional cost to create updated versions.
- Finally, your professional domain-based email will suddenly stop working, and, along with it, the ability to receive notifications of payments due, important sales emails, and confirmation/verification emails.
How to Protect Your Domain Name from Expiring
Overall, losing your domain name is a costly mistake that could have been easily prevented with regular maintenance that typically takes just a few minutes a year. To protect your domain name, the best thing you can do is making sure that your domain name is renewed on a timely basis, and that nothing goes wrong with its renewal. You can do this with the following steps:
- (yes #0 is NOT a typo!) Use a domain registrar that has an auto-renew option for domains! Most registrars have this option, but if yours does not, consider switching to one that allows you to specify an auto-renew feature. You should not be solely reliant on this function, but this will save your domain name’s registration most of the time.
- Enable the auto-renew function for your domains.
- Make sure that your payment information is up-to-date, including credit card information, names, phone numbers, and email addresses. Credit cards expire, which can cause payments to fail, so be vigilant!
- Use an email address for your domain registrar account that is not associated with the domain being registered and is easily accessible. That way, even if your domain name is lost, your domain registrar account will still work. There are many free email account providers on the internet, and email forwarders are easy to set up if you are worried about missing emails.
- Don’t rely on your memory to retrieve important logins and passwords for the domain registrar where your domain is registered. Store all access information in safe places, both online and offline (such as on paper). Make sure you update the information every time something changes.
- Turn on email notifications from your registrar account, make sure you can successfully receive them, and when they arrive, PAY ATTENTION TO THEM. Most registrars send several reminders to renew before a domain name expires. Know the difference between spam domain registration emails and the real thing – and don’t ignore those from your authentic domain registrar!
- Set a yearly or even monthly reminder (or two) on your calendar to check your domain registration and payment information, to make sure everything is up-to-date.
- If you cannot maintain your domain registration as the owner, hire a trusted person to manage it for you.
- If you have the time, don’t rely on the auto-renew – manually renew your domain a few days before it is set to expire/auto-renew.
- If you own more than one domain, keep all of them registered at the same domain registrar. It is easier to keep track of them in one place.
- Keep the domain contact information up-to-date. Make sure the administrator account, especially, has a valid email that you can access. Registrars are required to send out reminders to check your domain contact info. Don’t ignore those emails – take a moment to check that your email, address, phone and other contact info are correct. We have recently seen a client website suspended for lack of validated contact info.
OK that’s 11 good ideas to help you protect your domain name…
Getting Back Your Domain Name
Most registrars have a grace period where your domain name is still available to just you. If you act early enough, you may be able to recover your domain name without an additional cost – just your regular renewal fee – usually within the first few days. After that, expect to pay an additional fee to get your domain back – $100 is normal (when this was originally written in 2019). After that time period expires, which could be in as little as 2-3 weeks, your domain will go on an expired domain auction, where you will have to compete to buy it back, because it is no longer your domain. There are groups that exist solely to buy expired domain names, so they can sell them in turn to the highest bidder. For a timeline of how GoDaddy, one of the largest domain registrars, handles their domain expirations, go here.
Domain Rescue Services
We have experience rescuing domains with lost or outdated contact information and domains expired after the grace period. We also manage domains for our clients who benefit from our attention to detail and vigilance in keeping track of both our own and our clients’ domains.