Domain names – have you overlooked yours during the Virus?
You’d be surprised at which Isle of Wight businesses have overlooked their website domain names and now have some disreputable companies using them! Local technology and tourism advisor, Steve Clark, gives us some helpful advice.
Has Coronavirus caused you to overlook one of your most cost effective business assets?
Your internet domain name is one of your best and most valuable marketing properties and is also one of the cheapest to maintain. However, with everything that has been going on this year especially with hospitality and tourism businesses being closed for nearly four months it can be very easy to overlook things and one of the things that can be very easily forgotten about is your internet domain name.
Our sister business Chale Bay Farm self catering holiday accommodation maintains a set of pages we refer guests to when they ask for suggestions for things to do during their stay on the Isle of Wight. During recent checks and updates we found no less than six Island attraction businesses that have allowed their domains to lapse since we last checked at the start of last year, and in some cases they now have unrelated undesirable companies “squatting” on their old domain name selling everything from financial products to advertising get rich quick scams.
Most of the time it is simply someone jumping on an expired domain to vacuum up traffic from pre-existing links and they replace the site with advertising type material; but very occasionally you could even have a domain scammed out from underneath you.
Having to change your domain name and therefore web and email address is probably more painful these days than having to change your business phone number, but domain squatters can also cause you reputational damage through associating your brand with undesirable products and services, and of course if you have worked on Search Engine Optimisation and marketing for your old domain, much of this effort can be severely dented as your old domain becomes irrelevant and not only that there may be hundreds of web links out there that don’t point to you any more, damaging your search engine profile still further.
Even if you acquire a new domain name that you think is better, don’t let the old domain lapse but keep it active and have it automatically forward to your new site, and if you have secondary domains for other purposes don’t forget those either. Even one of the Island’s top attractions has left one of its key seasonal event domains returning a server error right now instead of a redirection.
If you use an IT company already to maintain your web presence make sure that they don’t forget to renew your domain (and any subsidiary domains) on your behalf and if you manage your domains yourself most internet registrars nowadays offer automatic renewal facilities and many also allow you to register the domain for longer than the standard one or two year time period.
Finally, make sure you don’t fall for scam hijackings where you respond to a domain renewal invoice that is not from your registrar. The date of expiry of your domain is in the public record, as in many cases are your contact details so it’s very common to get speculative emails ahead of a domain renewal in the form of an apparent invoice – replying to this and sending the money is treated as an authority to transfer the domain to the new provider. Again this is where auto renewal through a respectable registrar can help and most can now offer additional features such as hiding your identity from the public record and “locking” the domain, which means more security checks will be undertaken if a request to transfer is received. Most reputable registrars only charge between about £5-£20 to renew a standard domain suffix (.co.uk .com etc). Scam companies often charge £50 or more and are obstructive if you try to transfer the domains back.