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What’s in a Domain?
Domain upkeep is necessary in the days of “drop catching”
To accommodate the exponential growth of online shopping in recent years, businesses worldwide continue to open Web-based storefronts. As domains continue to get scooped up by entrepreneurs around the globe, there are far fewer available domains to choose from. It is now more important than ever to know exactly where your domain is registered, whose name it is registered under, and when it will expire. These key factors are essential in protecting your company’s brand identity from businesses that prey on expiring websites.
Domain drop catching, or domain sniping, is the act of registering an expired domain within moments after its renewal time has passed. Drop-catching specialists often renew domains with the goal of reselling them to the original company at a much higher price, or worse, selling them to the highest bidder. As it becomes increasingly difficult to find available domain names, you should view your company’s website as an extremely valuable asset that continues to grow in value. Considering the above information, the question remains: Do you know the current status of your domain?
Since many company owners are not as technologically savvy as their webmasters, it is often far easier for the webmaster to register the company’s domain under their own name and email address. This can be problematic, as webmasters may come and go, leaving company owners unnotified and in the dark when it comes time to renew their domain. Unfortunately, since many company owners feel more comfortable letting their IT consultant or webmaster handle all things Web-related, domains are often snatched up before they can be renewed, only to be held for ransom by a domain sniper. Luckily, there is an easy, step-by-step process for finding out who your domain is registered to and when it will expire, so that you may avoid this costly mistake which could be detrimental to the success of your business.
To find exactly who your domain is registered to, begin by entering your domain name into a WHOIS database such as GoDaddy or ICANN WHOIS. Using a WHOIS lookup service will provide you with valuable information such as who registered your domain, what address it is registered under, when the domain was created, and when it will expire. It is important to note that in order for you to be notified of your domain’s expiration, your registrant and administrative contact should contain your company’s main point of contact, address, and phone number. If, for some reason, your domain is listed under your webmaster's or consultant’s name, it is advisable to have them transfer your domain name to you as soon as possible. Simply ask your webmaster to have your company’s name listed as the administrative and registrar contact, and to also provide you with the account number and password credentials for the hosting service under which the domain was registered. If you are unable to view the details of your domain using a WHOIS lookup service, it is very likely that your domain was registered privately, which implements WHOIS masking by default. The simple steps outlined above will ensure that your company will not miss its window of renewal, so that you may effectively maintain control of your domain and safeguard it from outside forces.
Although you may never need to change consultants or webmasters, it is essential to preserve full control of your company’s domain. Frequently, both local and national businesses keep a careful eye on their competition’s domain expiration date, in hopes of registering the expired domain if their competitor forgets to renew. Letting your domain expire or, worse yet, fall into the hands of someone else, can be a costly mistake which can result in the loss of business, site traffic, and brand identity. Taking a few simple precautionary measures can be the deciding factor in whether your online business presence flourishes or flounders.
About the Author
Terry Fine is President of AMG Creative in Fort Collins, Colorado.