Your business' domain name is a crucial asset for your business. It helps customers to find you, remember you, and tell others about your business. But what happens if you forget or are unable to renew your domain name?
The process will vary a little between domain providers and also by domain extension (.com, .net, .io, .us etc). However, the basic principles remain the same. If you don’t renew your domain name, the most obvious issue is that your website and emails will stop working. Customers won’t be able to visit your website, and you’ll no longer be able to send or receive emails.
Long story short: it can be a disaster, especially if someone else decides to buy your domain. Don't let this happen to you!
We recommend that business owners assess their knowledge of domain name management. Are you an expert or would you say you're closer to clueless? Whichever answer is closer to the truth, we recommend that ALL business owners buy and register their domain name(s) themselves.
A big mistake many business owners make is to let somebody else take care of it. There are too many times when they’ll let somebody else register the domain name on their behalf. Many business owners made the mistake of relying on a web designer, agency, employee, or friend to take care of the “technical side of things”.
But if something happens to that trusted person or an employee leaves, you can be left in a position where it’s difficult to regain control of your domain name. It’s not impossible to regain control. In some cases they can do so - but it’s a lot of unnecessary stress that could have been easily avoided.
There will be a period of time when you’re still able to renew your domain name after it expires. At this point, you should still be able to renew at the standard yearly rate.
After this, your domain may still be able to be renewed, but there would be an additional redemption fee to pay. This can be many times higher than the standard yearly rate. According to Domain.com, the redemption fee may be up to $160.
If you still haven’t renewed a domain name at this point, then your domain will now enter a stage known as ‘pending delete’. This is where the domain will either be sent to auction or it will be deleted and available to anyone else to register.
The aftermarket for domain names is huge and there are a lot of investors who look for domain names that expire. Losing out to speculators and investors will often mean that your previously prized domain name is put up for sale for thousands of dollars. Thankfully, you can avoid having to face any of these struggles.
We talked about the importance of assessing your knowledge of domain management. If you are unfamiliar with how domains and domain name management work, here are some concepts that you need to be familiar with.
Let's start off with some keywords and phrases:
Domain Registries - Organizations that manage the domain names for a specific top-level domain (.com, .edu,.gov, etc.). ICANN delegates the management of particular TLDs to domain registries. For example, VeriSign manages .com and .net.
Domain Name Registrar - Companies where you can buy and register domain names. These companies are accredited by ICANN. Examples: Google Domains, GoDaddy, etc.
Domain Name Reseller - Companies that are contracted by registrars to register domains.
Domain Name System (DNS) - The system that the internet uses to match domain names with IP addresses. The DNS is a network of name servers.
DNS Record - A text file that contains the domain and IP address for a specific website that's written in DNS syntax. Browsers request this data to locate a website and serve it to users.
Name Server - A server that uses DNS software to translate domain names to IP addresses. When a company switches name servers, it changes the domain management location. If you don't know your domain's name server, you can use tools like RMXToolbox or the DNS lookup tool on ICANN to help find the name server for your domain.
Hosting - How and where your website and associated files are stored. Investing in a quality hosting plan is important to the overall performance of your website.
Hosting Provider - A company that hosts websites for other businesses. A hosting provider owns or leases servers where websites are stored.
Domain Migration - The process of changing domains and moving content and files to the new domain. A domain migration often utilizes 301 redirects to point pages on the old domain to the corresponding page on the new domain. Many business owners choose to keep both domain names after a domain migration.
Here are some tips for business owners to have a stress-free relationship with their domain name.
The owner can be an individual or a business entity. Your domain name is one of your most important business assets; make sure that you fully own and control your domain name. This might seem obvious, but it's important to double-check that your registration information reflects your ownership or your company's ownership of the domain name.
Don’t rely on somebody else to register or manage your domain name on your behalf. We recommend sharing account management responsibility (if your domain management tool allows you to do so without sharing your password) - but you should register your domain yourself and always be listed as the “owner”.
If someone registers a domain name on your behalf, they may list the owner as themselves (individual) or their business. If you’re trying to regain control of a domain name that you’ve lost access to, this can make it far more difficult to achieve success.
Practicing password safety is a good business practice in general, but it's especially important to protect the centerpiece of your online presence. Use a password manager like LastPass and make sure that you don’t hand these details over to anyone that you don’t explicitly trust to keep the login details safe for your domain name registrar. There have been occasions where people have transferred domains out of accounts and it has been very difficult for people to get them back. If it's possible to avoid giving your login information out, do it.
Being the owner of the domain name doesn't mean you have to bear sole responsibility for domain management. We suggest adding 2-3 additional trusted knowledgeable users to your account.
Think of these people as emergency contacts. If for some reason you can't access the account or are unable to complete an account management tasks, these users can assist you. If one of your users leaves the company, remove them from your account as soon as possible.
Many business owners own a portfolio of domain names. The domain names might be all related to a single entity.
For example, a business owner might buy similar domains to capture additional traffic or prevent bad actors from purchasing them. It's also common for business owners to change their domain name to reflect best practices or updated branding. In this case, the business owner should retain ownership of the original domain and redirect to the new domain name using 301 redirects. A business owner might also own multiple businesses and, therefore, multiple domain names to represent those businesses.
As the number of domain names grows, ease of management becomes increasingly more important. The fewer interfaces and tools, the better! We recommend buying domains from the same registrar and managing your domain name portfolio in a single interface when possible.
It's essential that you keep a close eye on account updates from your service provider. Make sure renewal reminders are making it to your inbox. Make sure this email isn't going to spam and at least annually log into your account to check the status of the domains in your domain name portfolio.
Although, it's important to continuously know the status of your domain names. You should also set up automatic renewal for your domain names. With most domain names, you can purchase multiple years at a time. Take the opportunity to renew your domain name for multiple years and ensure that you never face the horror of an expired domain. Automatic renewal reduces the chances of your domains expiring due to human error.
You are a business owner, you get a lot of emails and have a lot on your mind. Set up additional backup reminders using other non-email methods. We recommend setting a reminder on your phone and calendar.
Carbon Digital requires clients to buy their domain name. If you're a business owner that isn't confident about their knowledge of domain name management, you're not alone. We suggest seeking help from a knowledgeable developer inside or outside of your organization. We recommend that clients use Google Domains to buy their domain name. Google Domains is easy to use, has flat rates, and doesn't try to upsell you sub-par hosting services. Our team manages domains using cPanel. You can use cPanel to manage multiple domains in one place. You can create domains, update domains, delete domains, and check domain information in cPanel. cPanel is a flexible domain management platform that allows us to take backups. Alternatively, business owners can manage their domain name portfolio in Google Domains. Google Domains allows you to add multiple users to your account.