Yes, even registering a domain name can be a tricky affair just to get right. Domain name registration mistakes are common with small business owners due to lack of experience with building an online presence. These mistakes can be costly, very costly. Review this list before registering your domain name!
(Note: this article is specific to the registration process. If you’re interested in choosing a good domain name, read our other article, “How to Choose a Good Domain Name“).
5 Domain Name Registration Mistakes That Will Haunt You
Once you’ve settled on a good domain name, you’re ready to get it registered. However, there are common mistakes you should be aware of concerning the process of registration.
1. Letting Someone Else Register a Domain Name For You
Always register a domain name yourself. Set up an account with a well-known domain registrar (we prefer GoDaddy), and let the registrar’s website interface walk you through it. If the registrar starts trying up to upsell you on additional services, just click “no thank you”. Or, read our other article, “Domain Name Registration Upsells to Avoid”.
The reason why you don’t want anyone else to register a domain name for you is because that person becomes the “official owner”. The domain registrar will refer all correspondence to that person, and will always side with that person in the event of a dispute. Even if that person was hired by you to register the domain, the registrar company is beholden to whomever owns the account.
We had a flooring contractor call us for help after his website designer took down his website and e-mail addresses after a payment dispute. Much of his business crashed as a result. It didn’t matter to us who is right and wrong in the dispute, it’s still wrong to hold someone’s business hostage.
As long as you hold the access to your domain name, you can always relaunch your website and e-mail addresses on another server. It might take more time and money to do this, but at least you will have your online presence back.
2. Giving Someone the Password to Your Domain Registrar Account
If you’re going to hire a website designer, then instead log into your domain registrar account, click on the account settings, and add a new user to it. You might see this described as, “Delegate Access”, or “Add a New User”.
What this does is grant access to your domain name settings, but prevents people from…
- Moving your domain name to another registrar,
- Seeing your account password,
- and changing the password.
As long as they cannot do any of these three things to your account, they cannot hold your domain name hostage.
3. Using a Small or Obscure Domain Registrar
There are probably a million domain name registrars out there, and the vast majority of them are small, obscure companies based in places in India, China, Nigeria, Russia, etc. They advertise online and pitch extremely low prices.
- These small, obscure companies always charge you low upfront fees, but gouge you with expensive renewal costs, and will sneak unnecessary services into your shopping cart. And if you try to transfer your domain name to a different registrar, they will make it very difficult for you to do so.
- What happens if this domain registrar is located in a country whose economy crashes, or suffers a military invasion? Then what happens to your domain name?
- Small, obscure domain registrars often go out of business and it’s your responsibility to get your domain transferred. And this is assuming you had plenty of notice they planned to shut down, and that their e-mail notice didn’t go into your spam folder.
- Many of these registrars also get bought out by larger companies, and when that happens, there is always a period of disarray in the transition. Customer support often goes down, their website interface is broken, or somehow your login and password no longer works.
- Always use a well-known, reputable domain registrar. GoDaddy offers very responsive customer support by just calling their phone number, and you get to speak with a real human being that doesn’t have a foreign accent.
4. Registering Your Domain Through a DIY Website Platform
DIY website platforms like Wix, SquareSpace, Shopify, etc, all offer the ability to register a domain name for you. In fact, they prefer you register it through them so that they can upsell you on stuff you’ll never need. But as we said in Item #1 of this article, never let anyone else register the domain name for you, including your website host, your website designer, or your DIY website platform.
- DIY website platforms will generally bundle your domain registration fee into the first year’s website costs, but then gouge you with high renewal fees after that.
- These platforms do not allow you to point your domain name to a different website host or DIY platform, should you choose to move your website elsewhere. You will be required to transfer your domain name to a different registrar, and there will be transfer fees.
5. Not Setting Your Domain Name to Auto-Renew
The thing is that a domain name is something you only manage once, and then never look at again. So, when it comes time to renew, it’s very easy to forget about. By the time you remember to do it, you may find that your domain name already expired and was bought by someone else.
- GoDaddy always sets your domain name to automatically renew. When it comes time, they will just recharge your credit card.
- Some domain registrars will charge you a separate fee to automatically renew (which is stupid). If when you are registering a new domain name, and they upsell you on auto-renewing, then leave and register your domain name elsewhere.
- Even if your domain name auto-renewed, and you didn’t want the domain anymore, at least you will be notified of the renewal when you see it on your credit card statement. That way, you’ll know to log in and terminate the domain.
Did You Already Commit One of the Domain Name Registration Mistakes?
If you already committed one of the above domain name registration mistakes, don’t worry. We can usually fix that. We have experience with it. All you have to do is give us a call, and we’ll help you.
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