Don’t get caught in the painful situation of losing title to your domain name. In this case experience can be a dreadfully ruthless teacher, so please simply trust me on this one: Do not register your domain for only one year. Your domain name is a firm asset, and must be treated respectfully. It won’t be expensive. Domain name registrations cost $10-$15 a year. There’s just no good reason not to register your domain for the full maximum allowable period of time.
A lot of us don’t treat our domain with the reverence it deserves. We ignore emails from our registrar, and sometimes even un-subscribe to them altogether. This is unwise. If you should inadvertently let your domain name expire you will soon face some, if not all, of the following challenges:
People out there want your domain name. In one fell swoop they will steal all the hard work you’ve put into adding value to it. They will have grabbed all the authority you’ve built up with the search engines, and they’ll intercept all the traffic that would have visited your website. Your domain is quite a bargain! They will even be able to intercept your email. There are a lot of domain squatters out there, and one of them may very well have an order pending for your domain. The only way to know for sure is to let your domain expire.
A lot of people think they’re protected because they have an obscure domain name. “After all,” tells me the owner of StacyHendersonMacyCPA, “What are the odds of there being another accounting website wanting the same name?” The people that hijack domains can find out pretty easily what your rankings are in Google, and they know darned well that if you have a good ranking you’ll pay to get it back if you’ve got a good ranking. They might sell it to a competitor, but they don’t need to sell your domain to make money off it. They can harvest valuable information from your emails using something called a catchall or they can set up a competing website of their own.
If a hijacker gets your name you’re beaten. If you have a hot domain name it’s going to be sold to the highest bidder, and if it’s too obscure or specific to be auctioned off they have a dozen way’s to blackmail you into buying it back at a ridiculous price. If there are no other bidders expect to pay $500-$1000 to get it back. Be polite and professional with the squatter. A lot of these bottom feeders think of themselves as businessmen, and once they take over the domain they hold all the cards. Hijacking a domain by squatting on it when it expires is completely legal. If the hijacker walks away from the table he’s only out about ten bucks, but you’re out your domain.
What a Hassle!
Once you’ve lost your domain you could spend hours trying to get it back.
You may decide to get a new domain rather than pay for the old one, but if you’re trying to avoid paying off a squatter be warned that this decision may have significant consequences. Most domain hijackers are just plain nasty people. They can be pretty vindictive in their attempts to get you to buy back your domain name. They’ll map your domain to porn sites, gambling sites, or landing pages that loudly announce “This Website Is Closed Because the Owner Doesn’t Pay His Bills”.
Website and Email Interruptions
Your website is going to go down. That’s how most people notice their domain has expired, but it get’s worse.
If you’ve set up email at your domain you’ll lose the ability to send or receive mail. This is enough to hurt any business, but for many it’s enough to shut you down altogether.
We’ve all had to deal with our email going down for a few hours, so I don’t need to tell you how unpleasant it is. Think about this for a moment. Imagine how much worse it would have been if it had gone down for an entire day! Or over a whole weekend? I’ve seen people loose access to their domain names for more than a week dealing with squatters. How angry will you be with yourself when you realize it’s all your own fault?
Many domains have a grace period that allows you to reclaim your domain name up to 30 days after it expires. That’s good, but the bad news is that it’s going to cost you somewhere in the range of $80 just to get it back.
You don’t need to fear your renewal date, though. With everything else you have to worry about why add your domain renewal to your list?
So, how long should you register your domain name for? As an absolute minimum go for 5 years, it would be ideal to get 10 years. Domain registrations are economical. Why take a chance of losing it for all time when lots of registrars offer a discount for multi-year reservations anyway?
by Kenneth T. Marshall: Kenny Marshall is a internet marketer and former Vice President of CPA Site Solutions, one of the country’s most successful website firms oriented exclusively to accounting websites.