When you register a domain name, it’s an exciting time. You’re more than likely to be buying the domain for a new website you’re building. You’ve got a new project, a new direction, and you’re full of ideas. But its really important to remember that when you register a domain, you do so for only a certain period of time. The standard registration period for a .co.uk is 2 years, and for .com, .net and .org its often just 1 year.
Once you’ve registered your domain, you can do whatever you want with it: use it for your website address; point it at your website; use it for your email address. Whatever you want.
So what happens at the end of that registration period? Well if you do nothing, then the domain name falls out of your ownership and is returned to the ‘pool’ of unregistered domain names at the registry. So it’s really important to remember: if you continue to want that domain name, then you have to make sure you renew it before the registration period is over.
If the registration period finishes and you don’t remember to renew it, but decide you still want your domain, it’s not the end of the world. You can always re-register the domain, and – providing no-one else has registered it in the meantime – you get the domain back. However there is a risk that someone might have jumped in there and registered it, especially if the domain name has a value. A domain name builds up value over time if you do certain things with it. For example, if your website starts to appear high in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), your domain name will have value simply due to the number of people who visit it. Or if your domain name is a close match to your brand or business name, it has a value because potential customers may type it directly into their address bar when trying to find your website. Visitors arriving through this method are called direct ‘type in’ traffic.
If a competitor gets hold of your domain name, they would benefit from getting all the visitors that would have arrived at your website though both the search engines and the direct ‘type in’ traffic. All of a sudden, the people who would have bought from you have the opportunity to buy from them instead.
So you can see that it’s important to make sure your domains are renewed so that no-one else gets a chance to register them. It can be so lucrative to register a domain that someone forgets to renew, that there’s even an industry sprung up around it. Its called ‘dropcatching’.
You might expect people with personal websites, or small businesses to not always renew their domain names. First of all, there’s the expense. There area large number of frequently used domain extensions (apart from .com, .net, .org there’s others like .info. me, and a whole bunch of popular country extensions too). And there’s also the variety of ways in which most company names can be written, as we discussed recently with the expensive domain ToysRus forked out for. It can therefore be an expensive business buying all your relevant domain names. And once you own quite a few, it can be hard to stay organised. The chances are your domains were registered at different times, maybe with different registrars, and for different periods of times. So its not surprising that occasionally domain names lapse without getting renewed.
But what about if you’re a big company? You’re organised, you have spreadsheets, you have budgets, and you have systems, so that your domains stay up to date, don’t you?
Well not in the recent case of Texas based ‘Silicon labs’, As first reported over on domain name wire, despite being a billion dollar company, they recently forgot to renew their domain ‘siliconlabs.com’. As soon as it became available, it was ‘dropcatched’ by an individual in Utah who registered it and then pointed the domain at a website full of adverts. This is another version of cyber squatting that we blogged about recently.
The company is now going through a domain arbitration process to recover the domain, but each day that goes by they lose money. And someone in Utah is making money out of that!
This shows the importance to having a ‘domain name management’ policy in place. For individuals and small business, make sure you have written down all the domains that you own; their renewal date; where you registered them. Make sure also that all of the emails from each registrar are set to go to you, rather than a variety of people in your business. Don’t rely on the domain registration company to remind you to renew.
One of the easiest way to manage your domains is to have them all in once place. You could choose WebEden for that, and transfer your domains to us. Don’t forget you get free email services with every domain.
So have you had any experiences of losing a domain name, or have you done some dropcatchng yourself? Leave us a comment below.