What is a Website Domain and How to Prevent Losing It

what is a website domain

Written by Amber Swenor

As Soul Seed Strategy's founder and Brand Strategist, Amber works with clients to evaluate their brand, understand their goals, and develop a strategy that will deliver the results they seek.

February 22, 2022

Do you own a website? If so, we want to help you out and ensure your domain is secure! 

It’s that time for a non-sexy but important PSA about your website management and health. Inevitably, a few times a year, we receive a harried call from a client that goes something like this, “Help! My website is gone! Disappeared!”

You might be thinking, surely that’s not me, I always keep up on my bills!

Here’s the thing, it can happen to anyone. And we have some simple handy dandy strategies that will help bring peace of mind and protection to your IP! 

This post will cover what a website domain is, how it works, how to secure your own domain, and some strategies to put in place to prevent losing your domain. Let’s get started…

What is a website domain?

A domain name is a web address used to access a website on the internet, aka your URL. It’s also what follows the “@” symbol in an email address. For example, our website domain is soulseedstrategy.com. That domain, or URL, is what we give to someone when they want to visit our website.  

So, you might be wondering, what’s the difference between a domain and a website? Your website is what people see when they type in your website domain into a search engine. A website is a collection of pages, files, data, and images that make up the final product that’s visible on-screen. Think of a website as your storefront and a website domain as the directions to get there!  

Why is it important to purchase your own domain?

By purchasing your own domain, you have control of your website/online storefront. Let’s say another person or company owns your domain and they go MIA, they forget to renew it, or worse case, they take control of your site and you never get it back. Therefore, even though our team at Soul Seed Strategy LLC provides private, secure website hosting and maintenance of websites, we always advise clients to own their own domain. This way, if you ever decide to move your hosting, you can do so, because you own your own domain.

How do you get a website domain?

There are several platforms available online to purchase website domains, including Go Daddy, Namecheap, Google Domains, and others. Before purchasing your domain, make sure the one you would like to use is available. Most domain platforms will let you know if the domain is available. If the domain name isn’t available, you may need to get a little creative to come up with one that is unique by adding or removing a word, adding a hyphen, or using a different top-level domain.

How does a domain work?

Put simply, your website domain is connected to your website hosting to make your website stay live on the internet.

What is one of the biggest reasons someone loses their domain?

They didn’t renew their domain!  

Often the biggest reason this happens is people assume, “I have a web person, so it’s handled.” However, even if you have someone who manages your website or hosting, it’s not likely that maintaining your domain registration is a part of their scope of work. So, it’s important you own your own domain and keep track of registration dates, as domain names are not available to purchase ‘permanently.’ More on that next…

What can you do to prevent losing your website domain?

  1. When purchasing your domain, buy it for as many years as possible and put the domain on auto-renewal.
  2. Once your domain is on auto-renew, the next biggest reason we see people lose their domain is because their credit/debit card on file with the domain provider expires. To avoid missing notification emails from your domain provider (which we frequently see filter to promotions or spam folders), mark any emails you receive from them as ‘not spam’ so you don’t miss any notifications.
  3. After you purchase your domain, set reminders on your calendar for however many years you purchased your domain for – 3 years, 5 years, etc. – and set those reminders to check in on your domain. Not joking. We have reminders set for 3 years out – it brings peace of mind. It might seem like overkill or way-off-in-the-distant-future, but the future you who isn’t calling your marketing provider harried-scary because your website is “gone” will thank yourself for taking 5 proactive minutes to reconfirm that your domain is safe and secure. Yay, you! 

What is website hosting and maintenance and why do you need it?

Earlier we mentioned your domain works by connecting it with your website hosting. At a high level, website hosting is a service that makes your website accessible on the internet – without it, your website wouldn’t be visible online. Think of it as a house that stores your website’s files, data, etc.  

A note on maintaining your site…

Just like any physical home, your website requires ongoing maintenance to keep it working; it would crumble and deteriorate without regular maintenance. Web maintenance consists of things like hourly, daily, or weekly site backups so that if the site crashes you don’t lose all your content. It involves security updates, SSL management, monthly updates of themes and plugins, and more, all of which are crucial steps that keep your website healthy. If your website isn’t maintained or updated, parts of it can break, your contact form can stop working, and your website can become susceptible to viruses and hackers. Therefore, ongoing website maintenance is very important. As much as it would be nice to set your site live and “forget” it, you wouldn’t do that with a physical storefront, and your website needs to be thought about in the same way. It requires registration and maintenance to keep it alive and thriving so your customers can find you anytime, from any place!

Do you have your own “I lost my website” story that we can learn from? Or any tips or questions to share? Drop a comment! Interested in learning more and seeing if our team can help with your next website redesign or web project? Reach out to us here! 

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