Lost Domains -What Not to Do – Specifically Geoff Olson from https://geoffolson.com/

Getting a domain name back can be a long and arduous task. Learn how NOT to lose your domain name in the first place!

How NOT to Lose Your Domain

Having the most advanced website anywhere, hosted on the fastest server on earth, amounts to nothing if you suddenly lose your domain. Without your domain, you can’t even post your phone number at least not where someone will immediately find it.

Over time, a business will become more and more intricately tied to the domain used to identify the business online. The address is probably used in multiple places, including print as well as a multitude of inbound links. Losing your domain could be catastrophic for your business and your SEO.

Many people do not have a firm idea of what a domain is, so let’s cover the basics first.

What Is a Domain Name?

A domain is a word, such as “geoffolson.com”, that represents a set of numbers on the internet. Humans can remember words far more quickly than they can remember strings of numbers. But computers need more than words to find servers on the Internet.

Therefore, domains were invented to map words to IP addresses, which are merely strings of numbers used to identify servers. For example, instead of typing google.com into your browser’s address bar, you can enter 76.32.103.205 and it will still take you to Amazon’s website!

When you “register” a domain you have access to its numbers and therefore control various things like website, hosting, and email functions related to that domain.

Somebody else now owns your domain!

Every year, millions of domain names expire. In too many cases it happens unintentionally, the owners miss the renewal notices for various reasons and they do not figure out that they are in the process of their prized domain until it is too late!

So many domain names are lost in this fashion that an entire industry has evolved around grabbing desirable domain names as their owners let them “drop” (expire). Great fortunes have been amassed on domains harvested via “the drop game”. Once a domain goes “over the edge” in this manner, it’s gone forever. The “domainers” move-in: using sophisticated “name sniping” algorithms and dedicated “drop catching” software they grab an expiring domain name within milliseconds.

How to Prevent Your Domain Name from Being Taken

To prevent a disaster, be sure you take the following precautions:

Do not let your domain expire. Register your domain for the longest amount of time possible. Keep a valid credit card on file at your registrar and enable the Auto Renew feature.

Be sure the email address used for domain renewal notifications is working and available to you. The notification email address should not match the domain, because if you lose the domain, the email address will probably stop working. To clarify, if you register amazon.com, your notification email address must not be [email protected]

The contact information for your domain is public, by law. One of the first things a domain thief will do is try to locate the contact email address and hack into it. However, you can use a service that hides your information with an intermediary company while forwarding all contact requests to you. Most reputable domain sellers offer protection services for additional charges. There are independent companies that offer domain protection as well.

Even after you’ve deployed domain protection, your previously visible information might be discoverable. So, it’s important to also change your domain contact email address to one not used before. The new email address should be a newly created account. Most modern email clients can be configured to download messages from multiple accounts.

Know where your credentials are

You must be able to access your domain registrar or website hosting account on a moment’s notice, both for administering your domain and for other reasons. You might not be able to find your credentials. If you know who your domain registrar is, you can at least call the domain registrar to use other means of identifying yourself as the rightful owner of the domain.

You may find that a secure password vault system such as Dashlane or LastPass to be helpful. A single account can be configured to work with all your devices and browsers. Countless times we’ve requested domain or admin access from a customer and received an untested user/pass to “something” dredged out of an assistant’s inbox in a panicked search.

If you don’t remember who your domain registrar is, that information is public and available through WhoIs search.

Be sure you are in control of your domain and not a contractor you hired to do the work of creating a website or information system. Very often, the contractor will register the domain with his or her information. In the event of a dispute, that person may decline to relinquish control of the domain.

Make sure that the domain registrant must approve any changes to contact information.

Use well-known registrars. Several large U.S. companies register domains. If you registered through a lesser company, consider transferring the domain to a firm with a strong reputation and 24/7 domain support.

How To Get Your Name Back

Now that you know why a speculator might re-register your domain name, let’s move on to the crux of the matter: just how do you go about getting your name back should the nightmare come true, and your name be deleted? The first thing to get out of your mind is the notion that this is still “your” domain name.

While you’ll undoubtedly feel that the name’s still yours, the harsh truth is that your rights expired along with the domain name. Geoff Olson, for example, didn’t understand this and no longer owns this particular domain. Most people will naturally contact their domain registrar first, on the assumption that somehow the registrar will be able to “sort it out” for them. But every registrar will give you the same response. If you didn’t pay the renewal fee and the name was deleted, there’s nothing they can do, and they certainly don’t have any way to get the name back for you.

Threatening the person who now owns your domain also doesn’t help for the reasons provided above.

Given that reality, what other methods can you use to get your name back? You could sue the new registrant, but this is often a hugely complicated, time-consuming and costly affair, especially as the new registrant is just as likely to reside in Korea as in California. The fact that the current registrant has re-registered “your” domain is not relevant to this process.

What is the psychology of the negotiation?

Having estimated the value of the domain to you and the speculator, it’s true in nearly all cases the speculator is hoping to sell it to YOU, i.e. the original site owner. Sure, he might earn $200 a year or so from an affiliate program, or more if the name has some brand value, but what he really wants is to make a quick high-value cash sale by selling the name back to its original owner. So in his mind, you are the ONLY potential customer. What this boils down to is a classic game of brinkmanship. If the sale happens, both parties gain. If it doesn’t, both parties lose. Bearing that in mind, here are a few tips to help you succeed in the negotiations:

Avoid conveying any sense of “desperation” to get the name back. If you do, the speculator will take you for every penny you can afford. So don’t rush to reply to emails, and most importantly, always give the sense that you are prepared to walk away from the deal if pushed too far.

Most speculators will “try it on” to start they may ask for 10 times what they’re willing to accept eventually. Be calm and patient in the knowledge that you can get the name for much less than the speculator says he is looking for.

Stay polite and be professional. Even though you may be overwhelmed by negative feelings about the speculator, they will believe that what they’re doing is legitimate. If you start to insult them, chances are they’ll walk away and you’ll lose the name forever. This is particularly true of speculators from Eastern countries who will not tolerate direct conflict in business situations.

Remember at all times – the speculator has as much to gain from the deal as you do.

Considering employing an experienced negotiator or domain broker.

Here’s a couple of tips to lessen the opportunity of losing domain names.

If the domain registrar you’ve chosen offers domain auto-renewal services, please take full advantage of the service. That way when domains don’t auto-renew for a reason outside of your control, then you’ll have a leg to stand on when contacting the domain registrar.

If you have email notifications enabled on your account, then you’ll also receive multiple domain expiration emails. So, be sure to check your inbox and spam folder.

Personally speaking, if a domain expires because of disabled notifications, then you definitely don’t deserve the domain name. You don’t have to agree with this, but you need to have a better system for organization in place in the future.

Another situation for contacting the domain registrar is reclaiming lost domain names that are stolen. Stolen domain retrieval can be quite costly. In some cases, domain names are never reclaimed and lost forever.

However, I will add and highly suggest that you perform the following to keep safe:

  • enable security questions
  • frequently change passwords
  • make use of security pins
  • enable two-step and any other authorization/authentication services

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