A domain name is the equivilent to your business phone number on the Internet. From Internet browsers to search engines, every entity on the Internet recognizes your blog by its domain name. However, every day business owners and individuals alike end up getting involved in scenarios where they give up ownership and/or control of their domain name. Therefore, you should insure that you buy your domain name yourself and own it. Here is why.
I’ll use the following example to illustrate a typical scenario that ends up getting people in hot water with domain names. When considering building a website or blog, a busines owner will delegate control of acquiring a domain name to a web designer or hosting company. Whether it be lurking in the fine print of the terms of service, a pure bait and switch, or an innocent procedure on behalf of the provider, a business owner ends up having their domain name registered in someone else’s name. Buy your domain name on your own from a respectable registrar and ensure that the registrant and technical contact information is registered in you or your company’s name. DO NOT let a hosting company or web designer lead you into believing that you have to let them own the domain name or tie it to their services. Buy it on your own and ask them where they need it pointed.
Even if you think you own your domain name, check and see. To do this, go to http://www.whois.org or the “whois” service at a top level registrar like http://www.godaddy.com/whois . If your name is not in all of the fields listed, make phone calls to your web designer, hosting provider, or whomever necessary to change that. Even when it comes down to the “technical contact”, play it safe and put your name in. If someone needs technical assistance with your domain, you can always forward the email!
If you DO NOT own your own domain name, you can sail along for years without issue. Then it will hit you. At Orangecast we’ve assisted athletes who were held ransom for $8,000 to try and buy back their own domain name from an egotistical webmaster to law firms that were stuck on a non-SEO friendly content management system and their domain was tied to the service. At $10 a year for a domain name, just own it!
A few reputable top level registrars that have affordable domain prices and are very easy to access by phone are GoDaddy and Network Solutions. These company’s also offer hosting and website packages but do not tie domains to these services. The Internet Corporate for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) maintains a listing of top level domains and accredited registrars on their website. (They also have a blog that has interesting content and video recordings of ICANN meetings).
Look for future posts on How-To-Blog.TV on how to get the most out of domains and hosting.