domain-names

What is a domain name? Every business (except those living in the dark ages) has one. It’s your website address. More specifically…

“A domain name is an identification string that defines a realm of administrative autonomy, authority or control within the Internet. Domain names are formed by the rules and procedures of the Domain Name System (DNS). Any name registered in the DNS is a domain name.” – Wikipedia

For this post, I am going to focus on top level domains or TLDs. These are your .com, .net, .org., etc. For example, our primary TLD for this site is www.woodst.com.

top-level-domains

Any website can exist using what’s called an IP (internet protocol) address which is usually a string of numbers like http://205.186.129.47/. But, that’s not very memorable.

You want www.yourcompanyname.com or something close to it. Something easy to remember that you can advertise and share. Here’s where we run into problems.

Registering Your Domain Name

Domain names are easy to register. Finding a good one is hard, but registering them is very easy. You can go to Network Solutions or GoDaddy and grab one for pretty cheap these days.

Simple. What could go wrong?

Let’s look at a typical scenario… You’ve secured a domain and your web design team helped you to point it to you brand new website. Awesome.

An average website half-life is about 2-3 years. Ours tend to last longer but I won’t use this post to brag, much.

After some time, you decide to rebuild your website. Maybe it’s been so long that you’ve forgotten where your domain is registered. You know you pay someone something for something tech related, or hosting, or who can keep track of these things???

I hate to break this to you but you need to keep track of these things.

It’s great to have a trusted company like Wood Street to take care of these things for you. But, anything can happen. You should be prepared.

Make sure you account for all of your marketing assets. This includes your domain name.

The Perils of a Mismanaged Domain

A domain name is one of the most important parts of your marketing and communications efforts…

  1. It’s on all your printed materials.
  2. It’s in your email address.
  3. It’s the link in Google’s SERPs.
  4. It’s what gets shared on social.

For some reason the domain name ends up being the forgotten child of marketing. Stop it!

Here are a few scenarios we’ve run into…

Expired Domains

Don’t let your domain expire. If this happens someone will snag it right away. Chances are someone is on a waiting list for when your domain expires so they can snag it.

Then you have to try and either buy it back or recover it.

Solution – set your domain to auto-renew. Or read the ICANN Expired Registration Recovery Policy – that should inspire you to auto-renew.

Domain Account Access

We see this all the time. Maybe your nephew or intern setup your domain. And guess what? They used their personal Gmail account to do this. So, your domain is at the mercy of your access to this person and their Gmail account.

Or you’ve had your web development firm, like Wood Street, register your domain for you. What happens if you stop working with them? Be certain that you’ve paid them for this domain and have the ability to move it if you choose.

Our policy is to assist with transfer requests no matter what as long as we have written client approval and the domain is paid for.

Solution – ideally you want to make sure you are the admin of the domain. If you have a company like Wood Street register your domain for you, make sure you are clear about the terms of this agreement.

Domain Name Settings

Sometimes it might not be as simple as one domain pointing to one server for one website. Sometimes you might have multiple domains. And you may even have those registered using different services.

We’ve seen companies host their main domain at GoDaddy and then another at Network Solutions and then another with us. See the problem?

Solution – your best bet is to house all domains in the same place. Then, from there, you can point those domains to wherever they need to go with one login and one bill to manage.

From here you get into A records, MX records, nameservers, and more. I would recommend having an expert manage these for you. If you really want to dig deeper into DNS records, have at it.

The bottom line is that your domain is an important part of your business. It’s just as important as your phone number or mailing address – sometimes even more so. So, make sure of the following…

  1. You know where all of your domains are hosted.
  2. You can access this account or these accounts using an email associated with your company.
  3. You know that they are paid for and set to auto-renew.

There’s a lot more to this as you probably guessed. But, if you follow those three steps, you will at least have enough information for your IT or web development team when changing anything website or email related.

Good luck and market safely!

Jon-Mikel Bailey – Before co-founding Wood Street in 2002, Jon worked in sales, marketing and business development for technology and marketing firms. A popular speaker, he gives seminars on marketing, internet marketing, branding and web design to chambers of commerce, trade associations and colleges. He has a BFA in Photography from Frostburg State University and still shoots photos for Wood Street clients.