Domain name registration is something that a lot of businesses take for granted.
You may have established your brand’s name reputation, but you might forget about claiming your name on the Internet through registration. You may be a household name or a go-to expert in your field, but does that automatically grant you ownership of your name on the Internet?
Do domain names need to be registered?
Domain names need to be registered to properly establish ownership of your name or brand on the Internet. This serves as your identification and will be the point of reference when people search for you.
If you have established your social media presence using one name, it is important you also claim a domain under the same name for brand consistency.
What Does it Mean to Register a Domain?
Domain name registration is reserving a name on the Internet for a particular time, often for a year.
Domain names are yours as long as you renew it during the specified time.
How Does Domain Registration Work?
When you put up a website, you are automatically assigned an IP address or a numeric code that leads visitors to your page when entered on the web browser.
Now, these IP addresses can be hard to memorize. You need to give the right place of the period between numbers, or else you visitors may end up in the wrong site.
Domain registration is putting an easy-to-remember name to an IP address assigned to your website. It gives them an easy-to-remember name that your visitors can remember when they need to look for you.
Think of it as having a store, and getting a domain name is like putting your store’s name in front so that people can see you.
Do I Need a Domain Registrar?
Domain registrars reserve a domain name for you by coordinating with representatives of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), a unit under the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
You will need a domain registrar to reserve a domain name.
How Do I Own my Domain Name?
You can’t own a domain name for life.
In the event you can make a one-time payment for a domain name, your domain name’s life will be dependent on the existence of the domain registrar.
Thus, if your domain registrar shuts down, your domain name goes with it.
However, you can consider enabling auto-renewal of your domain name. This means you need to have your email and payment information regularly updated to ensure that your domain name lease does not lapse.
Should you consider auto-renewal, don’t go for one-time renewal payments for the long term. If the domain registrar you paid closes for good, not only do you lose your domain name, you may even lose the prepaid payments that were not used.
Instead, go for a year to three years of domain registration.
Ideally, you would want something shorter, in case you want to transfer domain registration.
However, if you don’t want the hassle of paying so often, shorter terms are ideal and should protect you from the impact of possible losses in case the company handling your registration closes shop.
Update Your Information
Don’t forget to keep your contact information updated.
Having your contact information updated will keep you reminded on your domain renewal, or any announcement, especially if you may need to take action for your domain’s security.
The payment information should also be kept updated so that you don’t miss any payments in your auto-renewal.
Why Do You Need to Register a Domain Name to Use it?
You need to register a domain name for the registries to formally assign a name to you.
There are millions of people registering domain names each day. Should you have a particular name for your website, you would want to register it immediately before someone else beats you to it.
Registering your domain name also prevents other people from using your brand name.
Without domain names formally registered to you, your visitors would have a hard time looking for you through a list of IP addresses.
Is Domain Registration Different from Hosting?
Domain registration refers to the use of a particular name for your website.
Hosting refers to the use of the server to upload your website and content.
Think of it this way: if you had a physical store, the domain name is your signage you put up to let people know about your business, and the hosting is the space your store occupies to display products.
How Much Does it Cost to Register a Domain?
The cost of registering domain names can go as low as 99 cents a year (GoDaddy) and can reach 12.99 dollars (HostGator).
These are introductory rates, and usually, prices can increase after one year. Often, domain registrars offer packages for you to consider, such as email addresses, and web hosting with a specified bandwidth.
You should also be cautious about where you get your domain name registration since there are reports of domain names being stolen and sold to others all over the internet.
Exercise caution and do a background check on the domain registrars, and make sure to look for reviews, if you can.
Can Anyone Register a Domain?
Anyone can register a domain.
However, if you are registering a domain name for a known personality or brand, the registrar may need you to show proof of identity or authorization to register a name on behalf of someone or a business entity.
This may be required to prevent identity theft or misuse of brands and trademarks.
How Do I Protect my Domain Name?
Once you can get your desired domain name, you should take extra-steps in securing it, so that no one can steal it from you.
This may be tedious, sometimes a little expensive, but in the long run, the extra layer of protection you enforce goes a long way.
Remember, prevention is always better than a cure.
To secure your domain name, consider the following steps:
1. Domain Locking
Domain Locking prevents unauthorized transfers of your domain to another provider.
This is often the first method in preventing the stealing of domains. Domain locking is also a tool that also protects you from accidentally making changes that can shut down your website.
By default, website domains are locked, and can only be unlocked by your domain registrar.
Check with them to know the status and request for locking if not yet done.
2. Use WHOIS Protection
WHOIS Protection aims to limit the amount of personal data published with your domain information.
For transparency purposes, WHOIS lists the owners of websites and their contact information. However, this can be abused and can be a weak point for data and identity theft.
To strengthen data privacy when registering a website, consider availing WHOIS Protection.
WHOIS Protection conceals your data from the public, and instead uses the contact information of the registrar to whom the domain was acquired.
3. Keep Your Domain Contact Information, Including Email, Updated
Make sure the contact information, such as email in your domain registration, is updated.
This will help in alerting you of suspicious activities detected in your domain or website.
Use also an email address that you know you will be using for a long-time. Secure it at all costs, and do not divulge it. Anyone who may have access to that email may be able to change your domain without you knowing it.
Be careful as well when opening emails that say are from your web company.
Also, if you can also enable two-step authentication, please do so.
4. Be Careful of Emails Claiming to be From Your Domain or Hosting Service
Using Phishing schemes, those who plan to steal your credentials may send out emails disguised as service maintenance or security report on your website.
They can imitate the design of the emails your registrar may send and may use bogus email addresses that look like your domain or hosting provider.
Always approach emails on your domain and hosting service with caution. This includes emails that claim to be from IANA or ICANN.
These phishing attacks are finding a way to collect your website credentials, so they can steal and transfer your domain to another website.
If you are having doubts about an email that was sent on your website hosting and domain, do not hesitate to call your service provider.
What Can You do if Domain Name is Stolen?
Because hackers are getting more innovative, there is still that small chance they may get your domain name.
The first thing you do is to get in touch with your domain registrar’s support team so they can trace and take back the domain name from you. You will be asked to file a complaint and documents that prove your registration.
If the domain name was transferred to another registrar, consider elevating the complaint to ICANN, who serves as the regulatory body for all domain names on the Internet.