How to Keep Your Online Business Identity in Check By Lauren Dingus

Jeb Bush recently made headlines for allegedly forgetting to renew his domain name. It was discovered that JebBush.com was pointing to Donald Trump’s official campaign website. Since this news originally broke, we have learned that Bush never owned JebBush.com, and Trump never had control of that domain. A company in Australia owns it.

This brings to light the important, and often overlooked, point that maintaining your domain name is crucial for your business. While Bush didn’t actually lose his domain to Trump, well known businesses have let their domains expire in the past. Big name brands like Google, Microsoft, and the Dallas Cowboys have all let their domains expire, and a mistake like that can be very costly for any business.

What happens when your domain expires?

If you forget to renew your domain, and it expires, you will lose access to it. Domain registrars, like GoDaddy, will give you a certain period of time to buy it back, sometimes with a penalty attached. Once that grace period has ended, your domain will be auctioned off or awarded to someone who has it backordered. If no one has bid on or backordered your domain, it becomes available for anyone to register.

You may think that a temporary lapse in your website being available is no big deal, but letting your domain expire can cause a serious hardship for your business. For example:
You and your employees will have no access to your company email. Meaning any electronic communication between you, your staff, and customers is lost.

You can lose customers to your competitor if they are searching for your services online and can’t access your website.

Your competitor can purchase your domain and have it redirect to their own website.
An individual or business can purchase your domain and require you to pay a premium price, sometimes thousands of dollars, to get the rights to it back.

Protect your domain name by taking these precautions:

It’s easy to forget about renewing your domain. Logging into your registrar is not something anyone needs to do for the normal day-to-day operations of their business. However, ensuring that your domain doesn’t expire is essential for your brand image. Follow these steps to safeguard your good name:

Renew your domain name for multiple years in advance
Registrars will often allow you to pay in advance for more than one year; sometimes up to 10 years in advance for a .com. It is a good idea for you to renew your domain for as many years in advance as you can. Just be sure to make a note in your calendar of the expiration date, so you can renew again before your domain expires.

Set your domain registration to auto renew
Pay attention to emails and renewal notices from your domain registrar so you know when you should expect a charge. Also, login to your account periodically to make sure all of your information is up-to-date; especially your credit card information and email. All too often, business owners lose their domain because the credit card on file was expired and they never received a renewal notice.

Make sure you are in control
If you have someone else managing your website, make sure your domain name is registered under your name, and that you have all of the login credentials. An issue we run into when building a website, or setting up email for our clients, is finding out what the login information to their domain registrar is, who setup the domain and who has access to this information. A lot of business owners pass off the job of renewing their domain to someone else in their company, when they should be the one in control of it.

Remember, your domain name is an extension of your business. It plays a major role in your online reputation with your customers and search engines. If you follow the advice above, you can save yourself the frustration and expense of trying to recover a lost domain name.

Lauren Dingus is the web and graphics designer at Speros, responsible for the website development division, including: graphic design and branding, content writing, and consulting on digital marketing strategies. For information, contact Lauren at ldingus@speros.com or 912.354.8900

Lauren Dingus

Lauren Dingus, Speros

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