Imagine this: You have a medium sized business who has been around in your market for nearly 10 years. You have a good reputation for your products and services and have steady web traffic that is continually increasing. One day, your phone rings, and it’s a customer frantic that your site is down and he can’t order online like he has done in the past. Sure that it’s a temporary glitch with your host, you take a moment to login to your admin portal and that’s when you notice: it’s as if your site has been wiped away completely. The URL no longer works and you realize your domain has expired.
Sound familiar? Its natural for business owners and marketing managers to be focused on the client side of the website, but are you forgetting to give your website a regularly scheduled health checkup? Protecting your domain is essential to keeping your online brand visible and productive. Below are eight tips for better domain management that will keep your website’s domain firmly in place.
1: Turn on Auto-Renew for your domain
It goes without saying that forgetting to renew your domain and letting it expire can cause serious damage. If you are in a highly competitive market and your domain expires, your risk the chance of a competitor or an internet ‘squatter’ scooping it up. If you rightfully let your domain expire and procrastinate in getting it renewed, you may not have much recourse in taking it over again, other than paying high fees at the new owner’s discretion.
Not sure when your domain expires? www.whois.icann.org is a database of domain registries that allows you to see the details of your site quickly and easily.
2: Keep your domain locked
Locking your domain when it’s created is an important step to keeping it secure. When you need to make a change on your domain name servers, unlocking it and then immediately relocking it after the change is important. Failure to do so can put it in the hands of an unauthorized user requesting a transfer.
According to regulations imposed by the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), when a transfer request is filed, the Registrar of Record is given five working days to respond, and a failure to respond to the filing results in an automatic approval of the transfer.
This means that anyone can transfer your domain name to a new registrar and change all contact and server information, effectively taking the site from you. However, if your domain is locked, the transfer will be denied.
3: Use a reputable domain registrar
In a simple Google search for “Domain Registrar”, over 23 million results are served. In addition, ICANN’s Accredited Registrar list has well over 1,400 companies you can use to obtain a domain. For you this translates to mass confusion on what makes a quality registrar.
To determine which registrar is best, we recommend going with one who has built a name for themselves over the years. Network Solutions, GoDaddy or Hover have all built reputable brands over the years. Finding a domain host whose site is secure will tell you they take your security and privacy seriously, and typically can be trusted.
In addition to finding a registrar that is reputable, you also want to find one with a good quality DNS, or Domain Naming System. This will affect how traffic routes to your site and can affect page load speed and cache updates. The registrars above provide a good DNS.
4: Keep your domain contacts up-to-date
When you need to make a change to your domain, renew or transfer it, you will need to use the contact on file’s information to access. Keeping track of whose contact information is in place is important and assigning it to a company owner or shared email account is ideal. Many clients have issues unlocking their domain because it is registered to a former employee whose email box has been disabled, causing several added steps to the process.
Update this contact information quarterly or as needed to avoid this problem.
5: Keep your login to your registrar known and safe
This step goes directly with step 4, but knowing who the main contact is for your domain registrar is important. Often times as websites are around for several years, especially if they are auto-renewed it can be easy to forget who registered them in the first place. If that responsibility fell on an employee who’s no longer there, it can be difficult to regain access.
Keeping your contacts and passwords for your server, domain registrar, and admin logins together and in a safe but accessible place to those who need access to avoid any issues with security.
6: Ignore spam emails and letters about renewing your domain
Once you’ve registered your domain, and are confident who your registrar is, you’ll probably receive several emails and or mailed letters from other registrars making claims that you need to renew and they can offer you a better deal. This spam-tactic is used for other registrars to gain your business. If you know you have auto-renewed or are not near your expiration date, you can be confident that you won’t face any retributions.
Should you feel that your domain is set to expire or are worried about losing it, you can contact your original registrar to check.
7: Acquire multiple domains if it makes sense
When you have a good handle on your primary domain, it may make sense to look for high competition keyword domains. As a good rule of thumb, you should only register your domains using top level domains, meaning .com versions where available. A lower quality domain such as .biz or .info is not good for domain authority or as a means to increase traffic. There has been a shift in the way that top level domains are organized, but a .com extension carries a large amount of authority over a lesser known .info.
For instance, if you have a cupcake shop, your best bet for a domain is the name of your business with a .com extension. Once this domain is established, if you notice there is high competition for your business in your town, acquiring a domain such as www.nashvillecupcakes.com or www.weddingcakesnashville.com and creating a 301 redirect to your website will allow you to eliminate competition from establishing highly searchable domains, while securing those domains for any future use.
However, unless you plan to use the location domain as a full site, it’s not likely that your organic search traffic will rise based on owning the keyword URL. In order for that URL to gain authority, there must be relevant content associated.
8: Redirect old domains
If you’ve decided to create a new domain and have migrated your content to the new site, you should put a permanent 301 redirect in place. This will keep brand loyalists who frequent your page from the confusion of the switch and will maintain consistency while the rest of your marketing and business catches up to the change.
The length you keep the domain will vary from case to case. Some businesses may choose to keep the domain indefinitely to carry brand consistency, while others may feel they’ve made a total change after a shorter amount of time and can give it up without worry from competitors.
Following these steps can keep your brand online and protected from the ‘black hat’ practices that can tarnish your website’s authority. If you’re not sure how to check into any of these items, we have a technical support team that would be glad to help.
We also offer our own content management system for designers and agencies
, called Sitewrench, that offers full site setup and support for your business. To learn more about Sitewrench, how protected your domain is or with any other questions you may have, contact our support team
for more information.