Domain Name Ownership Strategy
Your website domain name is important for your company! As a beginning it wasn't easy to register a good domain name for your business. What is it worth to your company now? Think of all investments
your company has made over the years; they are all dependent on your domain name:
- Email: Your email addresses are associated with your domain name, if you lose your domain name, you may not be able to recover your
emails (this may depend on how you have the email set up initially). At a minimum you have to contact all your existing clients and associates
with your new email address. You will lose business.
- Brand Recognition: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn are great, but at the end of the day your website is your center piece. Consumers associate
brands with websites. If you have to change your domain name because you didn’t maintain it, you just lost that association.
- SEO: Search Engine Optimization is a huge investment that can pay HUGE dividends. It takes time and resources to crawl up the search
results. If you lose your domain name you lose all the authority you paid for and built up over time, as most probably you will not be able to
create 301 redirects to your new URLs.
- Online Content: This is tricky, you might be able to go back and retrieve all your content, but unless you are in a position to do
301 redirects (technical term to safely redirect visitors from an old webpage to a new one) that content will forever be associated with the original
domain name. If you lost it, you effectively lost your content.
- Printed Collateral Material: Your company surely has printed material floating around that might have to be scraped and reprinted?
Everyone’s business cards, letterhead paper, Brochures, expensive portfolio covers?
- Directory listings: Generally all local and national directories in which you got your company listed over the years are listing your
domain name and direct visitors to your site. Now, every entry has to be updated, do you know them all, or was it the same employee that left with
the domain name access (see below)? Most directories would send a confirmation request to a fall-back email address. And if this was also associated
with your domain name? The entire story can become very tricky, time consuming and expensive.
Considering how important your domain name is to your companies’ health, you should put a little bit of effort into getting everything right from the start! It’s not only about protecting your domain name, here are a few simple ways to leverage it as well.
Make sure you control the ownership of your domain name(s)
Often a business assigns the domain registration to an employee who eventually leaves the company and takes the access codes with him, then suddenly you'll find out that no one has the registration information to make changes, or even to renew it. This is surprisingly common. The domain account access should be assigned to a standard email address in your company (like info@...) and the domain registration records should be kept along with all the other important company info in the safe. It is generally under the responsibility of the IT department.
We are seeing too often as well the domain name being registered by a webagency in their own name on their own domain name management account among many others. This is not only against ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) rules but puts your business at risk. Register your own domain name management account here for free and have your domain names transferred in there, and keep control over them.
In the domain record:
Your company must appear as registrant,
and yourself as admin in the domain name account details,
the webagency as technical contact and
your accountant as billing contact.
Buying domain names for Defense
There is always a lot of debate about buying all the variations and combinations of your domain name. The rule of thumb is: if you can afford it…buy it! Why? Because anyone who is likely to buy a similar domain name as yours is likely to be one of your competitors. If you buy it first, you just took it off the market and gained a competitive advantage.
Register your domain names for multiple years
When a domain name is purchased, it goes into a database that is easily accessible to Google and the other search engines. Buying a domain name for one-year is a signal that you only have a temporary use for the domain, or that it may be for some spam like activity. Conversely buying a domain for 5 or 10 years shows long term commitment and weighs in your favor when search engines evaluate your website for placement in the search results.To reduce the risk of losing your domain name because of forgetting to renew it on time, you may opt as well for an automatic renewal.
Do you want to buy an aged domain?
Instead of starting from scratch you might want to buy a 'used' domain, i.e. that has been registered before. You need to check carefully the history of the domain to avoid any 'toxic' domains (see below).
Older domains will naturally have more PageRank due to having more backlinks.
For Google, domain age is not forcibly the date of the first registration but when it was first crawled or ,sometimes, when a first link was pointed at the domain. Buying aged domains to improve SEO is not really a good idea as Google's Matt Cutts explains in this video:
Avoid Toxic domains
Some domain names are forever tarnished. They may have been associated with bad content (Porn or hate sites) or were used to send spammy emails. More recently, these include websites that have a history of “Black Hat” SEO practices that are counter to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
At the end of the day, your domain name is the center of your company’s digital identity. Your Social presence, your corporate branding and your company email all come back to your domain selection. If you are thinking of registering a domain name it’s worth spending some time on reflecting on it. If your desired domain name is already taken (and most good ones are!) what to do, read this article. Get it right from the beginning, because it can be expensive to undo later.