There are two important things which support your website in the cyber world.
One is website hosting. The space that your site takes up. Hosting with a trusted provider is essential for peace of mind and for a confident web presence. But the website must also be found easily. Domain names are the other vital component. The domain name directs people to your site, advertises your brand and is an integral part of your business profile.
Domain names are the technical shortcut to where your website is located. Every computer has an IP address (Internet protocol), a code of numbers which leads people to it. No one is going to remember yet another set of numbers in their life, so unique words are assigned to the codes and linked for easy access. Ergo: Your domain name.
Choosing your domain name
The name you choose is very important. A short, relevant and clever domain name is the difference between your website being lost in cyber space or recalled easily by potential customers. It must reflect who you are. It must be easy to remember. It belongs to you, the owner, and is protected by regulations against being snapped up by others. Regulations vary from country to country but generally they allow certain protection to citizens and residents to prevent their particular country code domain being bought by those outside the jurisdiction. There is good reason to protect the names and we will come to that later. For now, your purchased domain name is yours, provided it is paid for annually, and the odd emails verifying ownership are answered.
Renewing your Domain Name
Whether your domain is managed by an I.T. Company or administered by yourself, it is vitally important that the renewal costs are paid annually. This cost is relatively small compared to other business costs and it is often ignored, precisely for this reason. A fairly modest invoice, among many higher costs can seem to be unimportant. However, the cost of losing your domain name is extremely high. If you worry about missing that all important invoice, there is the option of updating for five or ten years in advance.
When a domain name remains unpaid after its renewal date, it enters a ‘Grace period’ where the website is still visible, but the domain is on a countdown to suspension. Graced periods vary from company to company and are different for .com’s and .ie’s etc. But on average there is around 40 day’s grace. During this “Grace Period” a domain owner can renew an expired domain at the regular renewal price. If a domain remain unpaid even after this time, then they go into the dreaded NRP. Non-Renewal Process!
40 days after the renewal date the NRP is enforced and the name is completely suspended, causing all services to automatically stop. Even though you’re hosting and your email may still be paid up to date, they will not be accessible because of the lapsed domain. The loss in search engine rankings is immediate and deadly. Some providers will charge an extra fee to renew the domain at this NRP stage.
70 days after the renewal date, the domain is deleted. The domain registrars publish a list of deleted domains every day. These are immediately available for purchase by anyone who wants. If you are super quick, there is a possibility of purchasing back your own domain at this stage, but experience has shown that this rarely happens. There are many companies throughout the world buying up deleted domains and reselling at exorbitant prices. This is the moment when many businesses look back wistfully at that old unpaid invoice for a modest sum and regret the non –renewal bitterly.
Where do lost and deleted domains go?
It is not surprising that an increasing number of companies worldwide have been set up with the express mission of nabbing deleted domain names and selling them on at a profit. Thankfully, the registration rules around dot ie’s protect this to some degree, but the more widely used .com’s and .net’s are a prolific hunting ground for the shark companies. Reselling at an exorbitant price is their main mission.
Increasingly too, brokers are being used to appraise the value of domain names and to access them for hungry clients. This is real proof that it is a sellers’ market and the very fact that a third party, the broker, can now make a living from the sale of coveted domains is proof of the value of the once humble domain name. It seems that a domain name can be your golden ticket, if you are lucky enough to own one that is desirable.
Regular domain names can make it to the open market at prices of $2,500 dollars upwards. In 2005 ‘lasvegas.com’ was purchased from an unknown reseller for $90 million. The buyer agreed to pay $12 million upfront and the rest in instalments till 2040. This is, without doubt, the most expensive domain name ever purchased. It is not unusual however, for a desired domain to reach big figures. ‘CarInsurance.com’ was bought in 2010 for a mere $49.7. Million, while ‘fund.com’ fetched a cool $9.9 million in 2008. Is your domain name commanding a little more respect now?
A good domain name is important to your business, not just because it directs traffic to your website, but because it represents your business and is its internet identity. While its current monetary value may seem relatively small, it plays a very important part of your online branding and it could be a very expensive loss.