Domain Name Issues for Bloggers – Part Two

Domain Name Issues for Bloggers - Part Two

[Editor's Note: Here is a continuation of our series on domain name best practices. Click here to read last week's entry entitled Domain Name Issues for Bloggers - Part One.]

Domain Name Privacy

Many registrars will offer a way for you to protect your identity and personal details used when registering a domain. Normally, anyone can use the WHOIS database to look up a domain and determine the owner or registrant. But with privacy protection, which is offered for free or a small price by registrars, you can “hide” your details. There are plusses and minuses of using privacy protection:

  • Plus: Your home address and phone number are not searchable on the Internet.
  • Plus: Domain name scammers can’t get your contact information and send you fake renewal notices or try to “slam” your domain (see Beware of Domain Name Scams! below)
  • Minus: The cloak of privacy makes your domain name and site seem less reputable.
  • Minus: If your registrar goes out of business, it might be difficult to prove you own your domain.

Personally, I don’t use the privacy controls offered by my registrar; I also use my business address and phone number instead of home address, etc.

Forwarding Domain Names

I highly recommend that you reserve any domain name that you feel might become popular or attractive. And once registered, forward that domain name to your main domain name.

Here are some examples using my own domain names, of which at any one time I may have 15 to 25 registered.

  • One of my marketing brand names is “genealogy ninja” so I registered genealogyninja.com when it came on the market (it had expired). I have the domain forward to my main business site, High-Definition Genealogy.
  • I registered the domain name geneaguides.com which forwards to my Author page on Amazon. The main reason: the URL “geneaguides” is easier to remember than the long URL that Amazon offers up.

Consider registering different domain names depending upon trending product names, etc. and then have them forward to your main domain. Also check your traffic each year before renewing this domains and see if the renewal price is justifiable.

Renewing Domain Names

When you purchase a domain name, the standard period is for one year; however, registrars will offer an discount incentive to register for more than one year. In addition, many registrars will default your domain to “auto renew” meaning it could renew as many as 90 days before the expiration date and your credit card or payment method will be automatically billed.

Here are my recommendations on auto-renewing domains:

  • For a new main domain name, select a two-year registration at maximum. Who knows if you’ll keep the blog or website two years from now. Also, will your registrar still be in business two, five or ten years from today?
  • Never enable auto-renew features – just make sure you are adequately notified of an expiring domain name. I usually wait until the last two weeks prior to expiration before renewing.
  • Check your renewal price! Many registrars will renew a domain as much as five times the initial price! Call or email the registrar and tell them you plan to transfer your domain to another registrar. It is likely your current registrar will offer a discount and refund the difference to you.
  • For domain name variations, renew on a year basis, after you’ve checked the traffic and can justify maintaining the variant name.

Transferring Domain Names to a New Registrar

There are times when you may want to move your domain name to a different registrar: your current registrar is forcing you to renew at an exorbitantly high price or your registrar goes out of business. Here are some issues to consider when transferring domains:

  • If you’ve just purchased a domain, there is a 60-day waiting period before it can be moved to a new registrar. ICAAN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) controls what domain registrars can and cannot do, and this is one of several restrictions.
  • To start a transfer, basically shop around for a registrar much like you did when you initially registered your domain. Many registrars offer an incentive to transfer, such as $1 the first year. Check for coupons and promo codes.
  • Most registrars will outline all the steps needed to transfer your domain once you’ve made the transfer purchase at the new registrar. You will need to complete an Initial Authorization for Registrar Transfer form so your current registrar knows that the request is coming from you and is legitimate. You may also be asked by your current registrar to confirm or prove your ownership of the domain name being transferred.
  • Watch out! Some registrars are now charging a fee to transfer a domain to a new registrar and this is permissible under the ICAAN rules.
  • Once the transfer has been processed, you may need to update nameserver locations etc. – your new registrar should outline all these procedures for you.
  • You may encounter some “downtime” at your site or blog during the transfer; communicate pending outages and changes to your visitors before and after the transfer.

Consult the ICAAN FAQ page on domain name transfers here for additional information.

Beware of Domain Name Scams!

A domain name is a commodity – and a pricey one depending upon the domain name. The amazon.com domain name is currently value at $3.2 billion USD; even my geneabloggers.com domain name is currently valued at approximately $73,000.

Just like any valuable, you need to keep it secure and watch out for scammers. Here are some tips and some scams to watch for:

  • If your domain registrar offers a “lock” provision on your domain, make sure it is enabled or enable it now! That means someone needs your login and password at your registrar to make any changes to your domain name registration.
  • Make sure your domain registrar has your correct e-mail address for notifications; also make sure that these emails don’t end up in your spam or junk e-mail folder.
  • Scam: you receive an email from a company stating that your WHOIS info is missing and offer to fix it. NEVER click a link in these emails; login at your domain registrar and correct any name, address, or telephone info manually.
  • Scam: you receive a renewal notice in the mail for your domain. Verify the sender – very often it is another company attempting to “slam” your domain and get you to unwittingly transfer the registration to their company. Again, always check at your registrar’s website to verify any mailings or information.
  • Scam: you receive an email from China which starts with “We are a Network Service Company which is the domain name registration center in ______, China . . .” which goes on to say that another person or company wants to register your domain name in China. Again, the company is attempting to “slam” your domain and trick you into transferring the domain name registration to their company.

Summary – Domain Name Issues

  • Keep your website or blog hosting service separate from your domain registrar; don’t be tempted by bundled offers with a domain name purchase.
  • Order variations of a domain name only for one year; then review and see if you still want to keep the variant name.
  • Consider all the implications of changing a domain name, especially impact on SEO and site traffic.
  • Leverage forwarded domain names to your advantage for marketing purposes.
  • Transferring a domain to a new registrar is a complicated process; make sure you think through all the steps and requirements.
  • Watch out for domain name scams and periodically sign in at your domain name registrar’s site to ensure that your domain is in good working order.

Resources

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

Family Tree Magazine Announces “101 Best Websites for Genealogy in 2014″

The 101 Best Genealogy Websites of 2014

This week, Family Tree Magazine announced its annual list of the best genealogy websites, this year entitled “The 101 Best Genealogy Websites 2014.” The list is broken down into several categories including Best Big Genealogy Website, Best Social Media Websites for Genealogy, Best Tech Tools for Genealogy, and more.

Several members of GeneaBloggers are included in this years list, all in the Best Genealogy News Websites category:

Congratulations to those selected – please stop by their blogs and congratulate them!

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

 

Domain Name Issues for Bloggers – Part One

domain names for bloggers part 1

When you set up your first blog, whether it is on Blogger or WordPress or any platform, you may get a “pitch” to purchase your own domain name – meaning the name in between http:// and /. Don’t make hasty decisions when it comes to domain names; while it may seem like a minor thing and a minor purchase, there’s a certain “stickiness” to some of the factors. This means you may get “stuck” more than you realize.

Never Purchase a Domain Name from Your Hosting Service

Here’s a scenario that has actually happened to me and others: you purchase your domain name from the same vendor that runs your website hosting. It was convenient, it was a good deal, and you were new to websites and domains.

Then this happens:

  • You go to renew the domain name after the first year, and the renewal price is very high, sometimes five times higher than other domain registrars.
  • Or your website host gets hacked and besides taking over your website, the hackers take over your domain name. Luckily, you’ve back up all your website pages and you can just do an update, right? But proving ownership of your domain name will cost you at least $300 through ICANN’s dispute process and you’ll need to submit a notarized statement explaining your ownership.
  • Your website hosting services goes out of business and passes your domain name on to a new registrar.

I strongly advise you to use a different service for domain name registration (like NameCheap) and don’t take the bait from your website hosting service. Yes, there will be some extra work involved such as updating the nameservers at your domain registrar, but it is worth the long-term aggravation.

Also, one final bit of advice: if a registrar tries to renew your domain at a price you think is too high, call their customer service number. Tell them you are going to transfer the domain to another registrar. Tell them [name of competitor] is offering domain transfers for $1.00 this month (which is not a lie; some service is always offering a deal). Your registrar will do almost anything to keep you using their service.

Which Domain Names Should You Register?

If you are new to domain name registration, you may ponder which domain name to register. This meaning do you include .org or .net? Do you go for the plural of a singular name? Do you go for a version with a dash? What about spelling variations?

First, keep in mind that you can find a sale on brand new registrations, there are almost never sales on renewals. At the time of this writing, the cheapest renewals are in the range of $8 – $10 per year. Are you willing to renew several domains year after year?

Second, if you do go for variations on your main domain name, you should set the “secondary” domain names to forward to your main domain name. Example:

For geneabloggers.com, I secured geneablogger.com, genea-bloggers.com, and geneablog.com. Geneabloggers was the main domain and I set the others to automatically forward the visitors to geneabloggers.com.

My advice on multiple domain names:

  • If you really think your site or blog and its brand name will be popular, secure different variations of the new domain name as long as the price is affordable.
  • Don’t bother with .org, .net or .biz domains.
  • After the first year, before renewing the secondary domains, check your website stats and see how many visitors you received. You may be able to give up those domains.

Changing Your Domain Name

Here is a frequent occurrence: you set up your first blog on Blogger and you just use their domain name as in mygreatgenealogyblog.blogspot.com. After a few months, you bone up on your marketing reading and realize that you really should have your own domain name in line with your “brand” which in this case is mygreatgenealogyblog.com.

But . . . . you worry about losing visitors, about losing “juice” and page ranking as they say in the SEO world (Search Engine Optimization). So what to do?

Again, here is a strategy that I’ve used and it offers flexibility depending upon your situation:

  • There’s nothing wrong with staying with a blogspot.com name. Others may tell you that it doesn’t look “professional” or that it isn’t good for branding. However, there are many reputable and popular blogs that after several years decided not to take a chance on losing readers and suffer a decrease in traffic and ranking. So they stayed put.
  • There’s no reason why you can’t play the URL forwarding game the other way: secure mygreatgenealogyblog.com and forward it to mygreatgenealogyblog.blogstpot.com. Then you can use the .com domain as your main brand domain.
  • When I’ve decided to go with my own domain, I either used the .com domain from the start or I made the switch early on (within the first year) before I accumulated too many readers or too much traffic.
  • For Blogger, I recommend NOT shutting down or deleting the Blogger site. Create a final post which lists the new domain name and asks your readers to update their bookmarks, favorites and RSS feed readers.
  • You will need to do some marketing and publicize the new domain name. Don’t do this just once . . . use periodic posts for the first month until you feel comfortable with the traffic level.

Don’t Forget Subdomains

If you’re new to domain names, you may not realize that your blog or website hosting service may offer you the ability to create subdomains. For the ancestry.com domain, an example is blogs.ancestry.com.

Subdomains can be created through your hosting service; most services limit the number of subdomains to five. This may offer a better solution instead of purchasing a new domain name for a section of your blog or website.

Resources

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Next Week: domain name privacy, fowarding domain names, renewing domain names and domain name scams!

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.