Do you have a process for your client domain names?

Recently Google made headlines for not renewing; not only does this break thousands of links across the internet, it’s also pretty embarrassing for the company!

Now losing this domain isn’t the end of the world for Google – is just one of the many GEO domains they use for Blogspot and if they want it back they have deep pockets to buy it.

However, they don’t have a trademark for the term Blogspot (that we could find in the UK or US database) so they have no automatic rights to the domain name, making the process of acquiring the domain back a one-to-one transaction.

And this is big business! There are companies setup to mass monitor expiring domain names and ‘dropcatch’ them for buyers based on ‘how good the name is’ or ‘how many inbound links it has’

It isn’t just Google that has been caught with it’s site down:

  • A few weeks ago, the UK Government forgot to renew a Help to Buy domain name which was mentioned hundreds of times across documentation, this was instantly snapped-up and sold at auction for £40,000 
  • In 2018, Clydesdale Bank had to go to court against a cybersquatter to get control of an expired domain. Although they won the domain back, it cost months of time and hundreds of thousands of pounds in legal fees
  • In 2017, Marketo, a company worth over a billion dollars made headlines by forgetting to renew it’s domain name

We could go on with examples from Microsoft, Foursquare, Microsoft (again?), The Dallas Cowboys and Microsoft (and again) but we won’t.

The point is, if it can happen to these big brands with hundreds of employees, a massive tech budget and internal system, it can happen to anyone, let’s be honest, domain names are boring and tedious, nobody WANTS to be responsible for them so usually it’s passed to a reluctant team to manage who already have a LOT on. 

Sometimes when we speak to agencies about this, they will respond with ‘we are not responsible for the client domain name’ and that is completely true in a lot of cases. You might be in charge of content or PPC or technical SEO… but how are you going to do that if the domain has expired?

But forget about the client for a second, what’s in it for you? Imagine how valuable you’ll look to the client if you catch these things before they do.

(here is the sales plug warning folks) 

For the sake of just 10 minutes set-up and £30 a month, you can turn a potentially disastrous news story about your client’s domain expiring on your watch into a ‘heads-up, just checking you’re aware’ email that makes you look like a proactive agency that goes beyond your remit.