It is truly a shame how many honest folk lose their perfect domain name to one of the many Internet bottom feeders that see a name that has activity and grab it.
What am I talking about here? Over on Craftster and probably any number of other craft-related forums, there have been a number of conversations related to crafters losing a domain name, often before they were able to purchase it.
Unfortunately, there are many who troll the Internet looking for a quick buck and for whom stealing a domain name out from under someone often proves to be profitable.
The good news is there are ways to protect yourself…
Keep it a secret
Never ever list a domain name in a forum BEFORE you buy it! Craftster, and crafting forums in general, are usually communities that are so sharing that this rarely happens. It is, however, rampant on the webmaster forums.
You’ve seen the posts. I’m thinking of starting a website. I’ve found a name I just love. It’s ____________, what do you think?
All too often on webmaster forums among the posts is another reply from the original poster complaining that some rat stole their domain name.
Domain Lookup = Domain Announcement
The other common scenario is when someone goes on a domain lookup site and tries out a number of domain names. They find one they like but want to think about purchasing. They go back to buy the domain name a little while later and find it already purchased.
There are folks who are just looking for some unsuspecting smuck to find a domain and then swoop down and snatch it.
Why do they do it?
It could simply be a coincidence, but in this case it would seem highly unlikely you and someone else within hours decide to use the same exact domain name.
There is usually only one reason for people to snatch a domain this way – M O N E Y!
The most simple way they get money is to get you to pay premium prices to get your domain name back. If this happens, it will rarely be cheap and not a path I would recommend anyone take.
The other way they make money is to monetize the site with advertising. Typically, a site is hastily built, ads are predominantly placed and the person hopes to get revenue from the ads. After all, if you were looking at buying this name it just might have some value through natural/type-in traffic.
The other way people make money off domains is referred to as domain tasting. They see a bit of activity surrounding a name and decide it might be worth a taste. When buying a domain name, there is a grace period in which the name can be returned and the purchase price is refunded. What folks are doing is throwing up sites, tasting the income during the grace period and if the income is too small for their taste; ‘return’ the domain name. If it brings in some money, they keep the name.
The bad news
This problem has been getting worse, not better. ICANN (the people in charge of domain names) and others are supposedly working on ways to stop or at least make it harder to do things like this. Until they do, and perhaps even after, please don’t lose your name before you even start.
I would recommend if this happens to you to develop a new name.
If you can’t get the .com or that’s what was taken, you will always be losing traffic to your thief.
If they offer to sell it back to you for anything over what they paid – that is blackmail and you should cut your losses and move on rather than condone the practice.
The worst thing would be to wait for the registration to expire and then get the name. This assumes that the thief will let the name expire. It also assumes they have not destroyed the value of the name by getting it deindexed on Google or the others. It is rare for a domain to get reinstated after bad behaviour even if the owner of the site changes.
Besides, do you really want to wait an entire year before launching your website?
The good news
Protecting your ideal domain name is easy. Don’t tell anyone until you are ready to buy. Period, end of story. Ok, you can tell your friends and family; but do not ever put the name in a public place and say it interests you.
Yes, I know you have to type the name in somewhere to see if it is taken. Read my lips, ONLY SEARCH WHERE YOU CAN USE A PARTIAL NAME! Do you hear me there? Never use an online domain lookup tool where you have to enter the entire name. There are many such services that have been accused of taking the interesting sounding names and if they themselves are not taking the name, someone has found a way to get the domains searched for. I won’t discuss which one’s have been accused and believe me there are many of them out there.
I do all of my domain testing on Domain Tools. I like this site for two reasons.
I can enter a part of the name I want and designate where I want the term to be in the domain name. For example, if I want myfavoritecrafts.com, I could search for itecrafts$ (the $ is part of the command – the site will explain this). It shows me a list of all the sites where the name ends in itecrafts.
The other great part of this tool is that it searches for all of the top level domain types (.com, .net, .org, .info, .biz, and .us). It also tells whether the name has been registered previously, even if the name is currently available. For the most part, I won’t buy a domain name that had been previously registered – who knows what it had been used for and why waste time worrying that it has a bad online reputation.
Yes, the creeps have also managed to snatch domain names when people where making the purchase over the net. This one really scares me as if they can see the domain name, can they see my credit card info too?
My webhost, Lunar Pages is available via telephone. I make all of my domain name purchases over the telephone. If your webhost offers phone support, I would recommend using it to purchase your domain name.
Am I paranoid?
Maybe I am a bit. But, there are simply too many incidents of this sort of domain theft being reported to not be smart about this. I know when I was picking domain names, I pondered each name for a while. If it didn’t come to excite me and instead seemed silly, I worked on finding something else. If it started to sound perfect – I bought it. Perhaps, if during that time I had searched to see if it was still available multiple times it would have been taken by one of these creeps.
Better to be a bit paranoid (I see it as being smart), than to lose that absolutely perfect name for your website and company.