You need a domain name for your business, so you search, think about it overnight and come back the next day to find all the domains you wanted have been bought overnight. How many times has this happened to you?
Is it a coincidence? No. The site where you searched for domain names sold your search details to ‘domain investors’ who have bought them in the hope of selling them to you for twenty times the original price.
1. How Do You Avoid Domain ‘Theft’?
You have no redress under the law because it isn’t theft.
Possibility #1, the ‘domain investor’ will return the domain in a few days and get his money back, so if you are content to wait, it might become available again. However, if you search for it again from an untrustworthy site the ‘thief’ will keep hold of the domain name.
Possibility #2, always buy the first time you see the URL you want. However, this means you don’t get a chance to think it over.
Possibility #3, whenever buying domain names, you should only ever search for domain names from a trustworthy site that guarantees never to sell on your search data.
The screenshot above is from a UK domain registration company, LCN.com. This firm guarantees always to keep your search details falling into the hands of unscrupulous ‘domain investors.’
2. Take Out Domain Privacy Protection
Privacy protection is vital for anyone who wants to keep their name and address out of the public domain. Most domain registrars charge you $20-30 every year for privacy protection, but in the screenshot, you can see that LCN include it free for the entire period you initially buy the address for. If you pay for ten years when you first order the domain, you get ten years of free privacy protection.
3. Choose a Good Domain Name
You need a .com domain. The only exception is if your sales are all in one country, in which case you should buy a .us, .co.uk, or .ca domain as appropriate.
Forget hyphens, underscore characters and numbers in any shape or form. No-one remembers them, so your customers will end up visiting competitors’ sites that omit these characters.
In a perfect world, your domain name should match your business name and give some indication of what your company does. Including your trade in your URL makes your site stand out better in search results.
4. Check the Spelling
Triple check for spelling mistakes. Blow up your screen and ask a friend to check you have made no mistakes. It is very easy to put a double ‘i’ or a triple ‘s’ instead of a double ‘s.’ Someone might see the miss-spelt domain has just been registered and buy the correctly spelt version and then try to blackmail you into paying over-the-odds to sell it to you.
5. Can People Pronounce It?
When anyone thinks about your site, probably pronounce it, and it should be easy for buyers in your target market to say out loud.
Huawei is a prime example of a poor choice for an easily-pronounced name. In China, everyone knows how to pronounce it, but in Europe and North America, most buyers have no idea, are embarrassed, so buy an Apple, Samsung or HTC phone instead.
6. Check Your Domain’s Past
Your URL may have been registered before. If complaints have been made about it, then these could affect your search ranking and trust factor.
7. Buy Your Domain Name Separate from Your Hosting
Web hosting companies usually give you a free domain for one year. Never use that domain for your business. Web hosting businesses are continually amalgamating and when your host is taken over it could make renewals awkward. You also never get free domain privacy with these free domains.
8. Buy Your URL for Longer
Domains cost more to renew than the initial purchase price, but sometimes you can find discount for buying for five or ten years, and if this includes free Whois privacy, it’s an even better deal
9. Check Facebook
You want your Facebook business page to match your domain name, search Facebook (and other social media channels) for pages with similar names already registered. Do this before you buy rather than afterwards to make your users’ lives simpler.
10. Keep All Your Domain Purchases Together
Most of us have at least a few URLs we never use or from projects we have abandoned. Decide on one registrar you can trust and gradually move them over to that company at renewal time.
Having all your domains in one place makes renewals easier.
Long story short
Find a domain registrar you can trust and stick with that company. That is the only sure way to avoid domain ‘theft.’ Remember to renew your domain when the reminder arrives in your email, or some domain sitter may buy it and charge you thousands of dollars to transfer it back to you.