Obviously, you need to register a domain name for your website to go live on the internet. You’ll also need to get a hosting package for it, but that is another subject altogether.
This article is primarily concerned with giving you tips on avoiding the unnecessary complications that often occur with registering a domain name.
Suppose you have just decided to register a new website for your small business. During your research for a domain registrar, you find many companies offering you a free domain name. It sounds great–who doesn’t love ‘free’. Wrong.
Here’s why. Top domain registrars must pay the registry for registering your domain. So, if the registrar is offering you a free domain, there are several catches that are likely to come with it including:
Domain Lockdown – Your registrar can, at your request, lock down your domain using “registrar-lock”. With this option, you get to prevent unauthorized transfer of your domain away from you.
But registrars can lock down your domain and refuse to give you the unlock code if you decide to leave them.At best, they lock it for a given period, say 90 days, during which you cannot transfer your domain to a new registrar.
Parked domains–Some unscrupulous registrars offer domains that have been parked by another client. Here’s how they can do this.
If a client parks a domain and does not monitor it, the registrar can change the Whois records of the domain to bear their name instead of the clients. As a result, the domain belongs officially to the registraras far as ICANN is concerned.
The registrar can then offer you this domain as free for the period that the client has paid for. If the client discovers you using their domain name, you can guess how that will turn out.
Free Advert – Many registrars use free domains to advertise their business. If you subscribe for a free domain, don’t be surprised to see the name of your registrar on your web pages. If you don’t mind this, then, by all means, use the free service.
Note: There are some good registrars that offer clean, free domains for a period. This is usually a marketing stunt after which they offer you an upgrade for better features such as control and proprietary URL address.
To be on the safe side, say no to free domains.There is more to lose than gain if you choose the wrong registrar. There is usually a costly catch, and you really don’t want to waste your time getting such issues fixed instead of focusing on your business.
Third party registration
As the name implies, this is registering your domain through a third party. Usually, the third party has a deal with the registrar to sell domains on their behalf.
If you are using a DIY site builder like Wix, and Wix offers to register your domain name, decline. If your web developer offers to register your domain name, decline as well.
Why? You are unlikely to have full ownership and control of that domain. Many site owners fall into this trap, and because they do not request or read details on ownership documentation, they realize only too late their domain isn’t fully theirs.
- Register your domain yourself and do it directly with a domain registrar.
- Make sure you go through all the terms of agreement to ensure the contract contains the provisions you have paid for.
- Monitor your Whois records to ensure it always carries your information.
When you register your domain, your domain registrar is likely to advise you to buy other extensions of your domain name. This is very good advice. If you have a brandable domain name, say uniquegirl.com, a squatter may buy a domain of the same name but with a different extension, say uniquegirl.net. You really don’t want that confusion.
- Advice: Buying up different extensions of your domain helps you prevent copyright infringement. But don’t do the unnecessary.
Buy the common TLDs like .com, .net, and .org. You can buy the CCTLD that’s particular to you like .co.uk if you’re in the UK. Nothing more.
Devote your efforts and money to building your brand so people get to know you for what you are.
If you have a unique extension like .name or .me or .fitness, you don’t really need to buy those other extensions. You’re unique enough.
- Tip: You can earn money from your parked domains. Domain parking services like Name Drive allow you to make money off your parked domains through stuff like pay-per-click.
- Note: When you have successfully registered your chosen extension, please do not fall for this scam.
There are seemingly incredible deals where you get huge discounts by paying for a long-term contract. It’s a great idea and it actually works. But beware the ones that come with a no-refund clause.
Why? If, for example, you pay for 4 years, the registrar may only pay for 1 year to the registry. The rest of the money is theirs. So, for subsequent years, they come up with bogus bills to pay for your renewal or actually drive you away with terrible service.
Advice: If you pay for such long-term deals, please check your Whois record. It contains the expiry date of your domain which should tally with the period you have paid your registrar for.
Crooked registrars may offer to protect your Whoisdata from the public. This is great. Privacy protection ensures that your name and contact details are not available to the public. This protects you from spam emails.
Here’s the snag. These registrars will put their record on Whois instead, and that makes them owner of your domain. If there is any reason for dispute, you will have no case.
Worse still, some of these registrars can still sell your information to firms who solicit for client information from domain registrars.
Now you know registering a domain isn’t as simple as completing paperwork. You have to be careful so as not to fall into the wrong hands. Most of these snags can be avoided if you register your domain with an accredited and reputable registrar.Good luck with your registration!