Imagine if you had to pay an annual fee for the privilege of using the address for your office. What if you didn’t know or remember exactly who “rented” that privilege to you or where to go to keep it? You might find someone else has snatched it up or some interloper masquerading as the keeper charges you three times the going rate so that you can use it. Seems ludicrous.
But essentially, web site addresses — your domain — operate like this. If you don’t keep track of who your “web domain registrar” is, you could at the very least end up paying substantially more for this service and at worst lose your domain name all together.
I am often alarmed at how many entrepreneurs have no idea where their web site domain name came from. Perhaps a partner, web tech or intern set up their first web site ages ago. Somehow, the annual renewals have either been set up in advance or are being paid in some other mysterious way.
The domain or URL for your web site is a critical piece of your brand. Be vigilant about what’s going on with it (or them) and you protect a valuable bit of real estate on the Internet.
How to Manage Your Web Domain Easily
1. Register variations of your business name for a domain.
Purchase the obvious one, like “www.mybusinessname.com”. Purchase the same name with the other more widely-used extensions (.org, .net). Only consider the other extensions if you are selling products under this name or intend to go big. Most small B2B service companies don’t need to park dozens of domains to cover .net, .tv, etc.
DO consider domain names that say what you do and where you are. Tsogyaling Meditation Center got far more visitors and students with the domain/web address www.evanstonmeditation.org than one using their name. Geographic terms help with SEO (search engine optimization) especially if you focus on a certain region.
2. Keep a file for domain management. Treat it like a deed to valuable property.
Make sure you know what company serves as your “domain registrar” and make sure you can find records of registration, passwords and payments easily
3. Do your research. Select your web domain registrar carefully.
Some big name companies advertise cheap rates and great service in Super Bowl ads. The deal looks great and the sales person on the phone is charming and helpful. Doesn’t guarantee there aren’t loads of tiny add-on costs or that that their tech support isn’t a labyrinth of pain. Ask a few web developers and designers for input. Look for horror stories or rave reviews online.
4. Monitor your domain situation annually.
Yes, you can set up your domain registration to renew automatically or register it for several years at a pop. But take a bit of time each year to see if you need to make changes. Small business owners don’t necessarily need to have dozens of different domains or landing pages for the web to work for them. Never hurts to see if some changes are in order.
Be the Master of your domain to protect your brand and save yourself headaches in the future.
NOTE: Be wary of solicitations like the “Domain Name Expiration Notice” I regularly get in the mail from “Domain Registry of America”. They aren’t in America. My domains aren’t registered with them. They are charging THREE TIMES the rate of my preferred registrar company. Read the fine print. They tell you to “switch” to them. My advice = don’t.