What Happens if You Let Your Domain Name Expire?

protect domain

My client, Amadea Morningstar is well known, for good reason, in the world of Ayuerveda.

For those, of you who don’t know, Ayuerveda is a form of traditional medicine practiced in India.

Amadea is a talented teacher and the athor of some fabulous ayurvedic cookbooks and DVDs.

Recently, her world of traditional medicine collided with the modern world of domain name and content hijacking.

What happened to Amadea?

After building a site for her Ayuerveda Institute, we let her personal website and domain name expire, naively believing that no one else would want her unique name.

First the domain went through the deletion cycle. Matthew from Natural Selection has a great image that illustrates how a domain expired and becomes available again:

domaincycle

As soon as the name become available, someone purchased Amadea’s personal name domain.

What made it worse was that the new domain owner scraped information from Archive.org. We learned afterwards that scraping old content is a popular tactic for cybersquatters. Once they grab your domain, they then also grab your old content. Archive.org is the ideal source from which to steal your content.

The site is now owned by a “Elina Paskova”, with an I.P. address in England the domain registration is with the appropriately named “Wild West Domains”. The old domain name now ranks #1 when searching Google for her personal name.

In Amadea’s case, rather than go through the hoops of fighting this cybersquatter, we bought an alternative domain for her personal name: amadeamorningstar.net and created a new landing page.

How can you protect yourself?

Here’s what I recommend you do to protect yourself and your domain name:

  1. Purchase the .com, .net and .biz versions of your business name, as well as any common misspellings.
  2. Register the most important version of your domain name for many years. We’ve registered some of our best domains for 10 years in the future.
  3. Use domain name registrars with added security. Moniker.com has a feature called MaxLock and they claim never to have lost a domain. If you can stand to deal with them, even GoDaddy has added protection offerings.
  4. If you are outside the US, also register your country’s domain extension, like .uk. Assign the new domains as permanent 301 redirects to your main domain name.
  5. If your current domain name does not include your personal name, be sure to have a page like an About page that features your name in the Title tag, meta description tag, and H1 tag at minimum. This can help you rank for a search for your name, hopefully ABOVE your cybersquatter’s site.
  6. Register the websites for our own name, and perhaps even create a separate, personal website.
  7. Always make sure you control your own domain name. Don’t leave it in the hands of your webdesign company or a 3rd party.

There are many more steps you can take, depending on your situation. Here is a comprehensive list: http://www.betterwhois.com/cybersquatters.htm

Instructor

  • Steve is the founder of OSTraining. Originally from the UK, he now lives in Sarasota in the USA. Steve's work straddles the line between teaching and web development.

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Paul Thomas

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