Website Domains: Purchasing, Managing, and Protecting
by Brett Scott
When it comes to websites, first thing’s first, we need to talk website domains. There’s a good chance when you chose your business name, you put a lot of thought into it. This should be no different when you purchase domain names for your website. If you are thinking of a domain name to purchase for your first website or looking at buying other domain names for your business, there are a few things to consider.
- Matches your brand: This seems like common sense, but many businesses attempt to buy domain names that are a shortened version of their business name. Try to get your business name or a well-known abbreviation.
- Short and easy to remember: Despite how long your business name is, your domain name for your business website should be short and easy to remember. This aids in your marketing efforts and creating a memory in your potential customers’ minds of where to go quickly to get information about your business.
- Radio test: Does your domain name pass the radio test? By this we mean, if you were going to place an ad on the radio and someone were to only hear your domain name – would it be easy for them to pronounce and remember? If so, you have a winner!
- .com is king: Some companies try to own every URL and URL extension combination possible. Popular URL extensions include .com, .net, .org, .gov, .edu, and .info. But there are other ones like .co, .biz, .us and .ca, and even more creative ones like .marketing and .church. We see no SEO value in purchasing multiple domain extensions. We recommend sticking with .com for businesses and .org for nonprofits, but this is becoming less and less important.
Do I need an HTTPS site?
Have you noticed that little “padlock” icon that shows up in your browser when you’re shopping online? That is an indication that the website you’re using is secure, encrypting the data flowing between you and the server. It keeps cyber-thieves from stealing your credit card number. If you look at the website address, you’ll notice that it is HTTPS.
So, what difference does the “S” make? How does it affect your website and business? And is it necessary? E-commerce and banking websites have been using HTTPS for years, for obvious reasons. Now the benefits are spilling over to other types of websites as well. Should you care? Definitely.
Starting in July 2018, Google Chrome began marking all HTTP sites as “not secure”. Prior to this change, Chrome displayed a neutral information icon, but starting with the most recent version, the browser will warn users with an extra notification.
According to an article with The Verge, “Google has been nudging users away from unencrypted sites for years, but this is the most forceful nudge yet. Google search began down-ranking unencrypted sites in 2015, and the following year, the Chrome team instituted a similar warning for unencrypted password fields.”
What is Keystone’s role?
Keystone is on the front lines talking with clients weekly about security, search, responsive design, IT issues, marketing, web design, etc. To tackle all of this in a planned and purposeful way, we have developed hosting packages that address many of the small business needs that we see. HTTPS is part of one of our packages. This means that Keystone can do the legwork to make your site secure!
Managing domains – Why Keystone insists on doing it for you
Early in the life of Keystone, we let the customer be in control of their domain names. After one too many domain disasters, we said: “Keystone, you’d better dive on this grenade for the good of all involved.” Now, as part of our services to you, the Keystone customer, we will gladly manage your domain name. Why is this important?
Two big reasons:
- We make 100% certain that it remains locked in our safekeeping, far away from the ne’er do-well dirtbags who would love to get their hands on your name.
- We won’t forget to renew it. You are busy running your business and it can be easy to forget to renew your domain. Believe us, we’ve seen it happen time and time again.
Furthermore, if you’re a Keystone website hosting customer, we include renewal of one domain at no additional cost. We’ll renew your domain, perform any necessary ICANN compliance on your behalf, and make any needed DNS edits
You Better Learn DNS…
Speaking of those DNS edits… IF you want control of a domain name, you better know EVERYTHING about what is attached to that domain name. Beyond what we’ve already discussed as it pertains to names you also must consider these moving parts:
The registrar is what you would expect, the holder of the registrations. We have to pay a registration fee every year to continue using the name. While we use the term “own” for a domain name, you own it about as much you owned that apartment you rented. Don’t want to pay rent? Hit the bricks. You can’t “buy” a domain name.
Thus begins the mystery. Every domain name has DNS server settings. This setting tells the Internet what server is ultimately responsible for pointing services related to a domain name. Think of it as the US Postal Service, only faster. “Hey DNS server, I need to deliver mail to wearekeystone.com.” The DNS server replies with an answer (in milliseconds), and off goes the mail to its intended location.
Inside that DNS server are host records for each service related to the domain name. As mentioned above, it’s simple to customize where each service is located…and in many cases, those services are distributed to MANY other services in many locations across the Internet.
(Registrar + DNS Servers) = One Stop Shopping
To further complicate things, your domain registrar and DNS server can be managed at the same company…or not. Your choice. I can register a domain at BulkRegister.com and host DNS there too…or choose to have a third-party service – or even the web hosting company manage my DNS server (and host records).
So when you decide to move a domain name away from a registrar, need to consider that MAYBE the registrar that is losing the domain name is going to delete the host records, routing all your traffic to nowhere, bringing your customer’s operations to its knees.
Beware of the Boogeyman… And Domain Scams
The Chinese Domain SPAM scam hasn’t evolved much in the past decade if we’re being honest.
If you have a domain name or website, you’ve likely received a message from “Margaret” or “Tina” in the “Checking Department.” Margaret (or Tina) will explain to you in her email that “Mr. John Zhou has attempted to register a domain name like yours!”
This is a common trick in the sketchy and shady domain name business.
The trick is:
- Scare the potential…uh…sucker by making them think someone is trying to steal from them.
- Use language in the message that makes it appear something is already underway.
- Reassure them that their glorious and helpful organization will stop this evil enterprise and help you acquire the “Internet Brand” that is rightfully yours.
A few things to remember regarding this and other potential scams:
- Mr. John Zhou doesn’t exist. He probably didn’t submit a formal application for the rights to “HendersonvilleRotary.com.cn.”
- As far as I can tell, my local Rotary Club has no interest in expanding to China. Nothing against China, mind you…I just don’t see myself or any of my colleagues flying to China for breakfast, coffee, and “buddy check.”
- If you ARE interested in doing business in China, there are many organizations that can help you do this. The Tennessee Chinese Chamber of Commerce, headed by Dr. Ming Wang, is dedicated to developing increased U.S.-China trade. Don’t get me wrong…I’m 100% in favor of American businesses expanding and selling their products and services in China. Buying a domain name in support of your new export venture is great. But something tells me you’ve got a lot more work to do before you start selling product or services in Beijing.
- They want your credit card. You can guess what happens next.
So what should you do? Absolutely nothing – if Keystone is managing your domain. We will handle renewal and management of your domains so that you don’t even have to worry about these scams. When we begin a website project at Keystone, domain registration and management is one of the very first things that we discuss. Allow an experienced team to take care of such a crucial part of your business.