Creating a website is important for just about any type of business these days. This is an exciting time as a business owner but when it comes to actually putting the plan in motion, you might find that web design and development get quite complicated quite fast.

This article focuses on one small part of this larger puzzle and that is the domain name. We are going to cover what happens when a domain name expires, including why this can actually be a huge opportunity for business-savvy individuals. But first, we’ll give you the basics, including what a domain name is and how it functions.

Picking a domain name is probably one of the very first steps in your online journey which makes it one of the most important. It is a huge part of how people find you online which makes it an important part of your overall business.

What Is A Domain Name?

As you probably already know, a domain name is a URL that you type into an address bar on your web browser to access a specific website on the Internet.

How a domain name actually functions is a bit more complicated. Basically, every website on the Internet is hosted on a computer or a server somewhere. These computers are assigned an IP address, a series of numbers that allows people to contact them. But no one wants to remember a random series of numbers just to access a website so each IP address is assigned a domain name, an easily remembered string of words that takes you to that website.

Domain names come with many different extensions. You surely know them by their common forms, such as .com, .org, .biz, and more.

Choosing A Domain Name

Choosing a domain name for your website is simple in principle but quite complicated in execution. This is because your domain name is a large part of what represents your online presence. It is the name that people have to enter or search to find you online so it should represent you in the way that you want to be seen.

Two Key Factors In Choosing a Domain

It is recommended that a domain name be two main things – intuitive and memorable.

Intuitive means that the domain name is what people would expect it to be. For example, if you have a business, you should do everything you can to have your domain name be the name of your business. This allows people to find your website more easily and allows it to show up in search results.

The second thing is that your domain name should be memorable. By this, we mean that it should be easy to remember. Much like the name of your business, your domain name should be catchy, short, easy to spell, and unique. These factors make it so that the domain name sticks in a person’s mind and they have a better chance of remembering the name when they need to find you.

Domain Name Expiry

Of course, you bought the domain name and it is yours (for now). But domain names are on a contract basis and you are only purchasing it for a certain amount of time. Thus, once that period runs its course, it expires and the domain goes back up for sale.

As a business, this can be quite disastrous as you no longer have control over the website that you have designed around your business. You want to do everything you can to avoid this from happening.

Next, we will cover how a domain might expire, how you can prevent it, and why this might be an opportunity.

Why Do Domains Expire?

As a business owner, you don’t want your domain name to expire if you are still maintaining your website. Usually, this problem is pretty easy to avoid. Many domains have an auto-renew feature so you don’t even have to think about it.

Some unique situations can cause an owner of a website to lose its domain unintentionally. We will cover some here.

Reminder Emails

Generally, if you have purchased your domain from a reputable source, you get many reminders when your domain is about to expire. So, domains typically only expire without the owner’s knowledge if they have been ignoring their emails or if the emails have been redirected to a spam folder.

Auto-Renew

Additionally, your domain might not be set to auto renew so it will not renew on its own without your consent. The obvious solution here is to ensure that auto-renew is turned on if you intend to keep your domain name long term.

Payment

Another reason that a domain might expire is if the credit card associated with the account has expired. If your auto-renew is tied to your credit card, it will only renew if the domain provider receives payment.

Simple Checklist

As you can see, all of these problems are quite avoidable. It is easiest to make a simple checklist every time you register a domain. As soon as you set up the domain, make sure you turn on auto-renew and connect your primary email account to the domain. This way, even if there are problems with the auto-renew, you will receive emails before the website goes up for auction.

What Is The Process for A Domain Name To Expire?

Typically, a domain from a reputable source does not expire immediately. What this means is it goes through a series of stages so that you don’t accidentally lose your domain name. These stages are meant to provide you ample warning and leeway for reclaiming your domain before it fully expires and someone else can purchase it. Here’s the typical process you can expect:

Approaching Expiration Date

Typically, before your domain actually reaches the expiry date, you receive warning emails and communications that it is about to expire. These typically start about a month before expiration and you will probably receive multiple reminders. As mentioned, be sure these emails are not going to your spam filter.

Expiry Redemption Grace Period

If you fail to renew the domain by the expiration date, it will expire; however, even at this point, you typically still have a chance to renew your domain. This is because of what is typically known as the Grace Period for Renewal. This means that, while your domain has expired and no longer functioning, you may have a period of time to renew before someone else can purchase it. This period is usually around 30 days but depends on the domain host.

After Redemption Grace Period

Once this 30-day grace period has ended, your expired domain enters what is called Registrar Hold. A domain Registrar is where you purchase your domain name e.g. GoDaddy or NameCheap. In this period, the registrar who hosts your domain attempts to sell it at auction. The exact way in which they try to resell your domain name depends on the reseller but an auction is most popular. The domain name is up for sale and can be sold to the highest bidder.

Throughout all this, though, you still have the opportunity to repurchase your domain by paying a fee and a renewal charge. You still have first priority on repurchasing it during the Registrar Hold. Therefore, even if a sale is made to the highest bidder during this period, the buyer has to wait out the Registrar Hold until the domain is officially theirs.

Expired Domain

At this point, the Expiry Grace period has elapsed and the Registrar Hold grace period has elapsed. At this point, the ownership can be transferred to someone who has purchased it in an auction. Also, if someone placed a backorder on your domain, essentially reserving it when it became available, they can also take on ownership.

If still no one has purchased the domain, it can be offered at a “closeout” price, which is a bargain price at which a purchaser can buy immediately.

Domain Does Not Sell

If no one purchases your domain once the Registrar Hold period has ended, it is entered back into the registry. At this point, anyone can purchase it. After 30 days, the domain may even be changed or deleted.

Opportunities With Expired Domains

As with any online market, there are a great number of opportunities with buying, holding, and selling domain names.

A domain name might seem like a simple purchase at first but there are entire markets and businesses dedicated to helping people buy and sell domains efficiently. In this section, we examine a few of these opportunities, including whether to buy a new or used domain name, domain name “squatting”, and more.

New vs. Used

Of course, if you are starting a business page or a website for a specific purpose, you might already have a domain name in mind. If you are unsure of what you want to pick, a big consideration might be a new vs. used domain name. What this means is whether you are the first to use that domain name or if it has been used previously by a different website or business.

Why New?

A new domain name is advantageous for obvious reasons. It’s your own personal website, a blank slate that you can form however you want. You get the advantage of truly making your site your own and you can build it from the ground up.

Why Used?

A used domain name might seem like the less desirable option but there are actually a few features that you could benefit from. First, you might catch some of the traffic from people who are trying to visit the old website. While this traffic isn’t the kind of traffic you necessarily want, it might help you if you can hold their attention.

Next, that website might be linked to other parts of the Internet. If there are already established links pointing to your site, you can capitalize on even more traffic.

This strategy works a lot better if you offer similar content or services as the previous domain holder. It increases your chances of holding the attention of any user that visits your site.

One great way to find valuable expired domain names with great backlinks is with Spamzilla. Spamzilla makes it easy for you to find a domain with a great backlink profile and nothing that is spammy or suspicious. It’s a great program that takes the hard work and research out of verifying an expired domain name and checking whether its links and references are legitimate.

“Squatting”

Another technique that some use with domains (no matter how controversial it may be) is squatting. Cybersquatting involves buying a website that you anticipate someone else will want, often because they have trademarked the name. A cybersquatter might act fast to purchase the domain name with the intent to ramp up the price and sell it to that person.

This is certainly a controversial area of online business but it is difficult to deny that people have had success with this method.

Conclusion

Thanks for reading our comprehensive guide on domain names. Throughout this guide, we have helped you with the basics of domain names and to understand the various opportunities to be had whether or not you are running a business.

Overall, you want to be focused on finding a domain that suits your needs. Whether you are in the market for a new or used domain name, it is important to remember the importance that this name holds in the potential discovery of your business by curious web-surfers. It is an important choice and one on the road to developing an online presence to be proud of.