The first we knew there was trouble afoot was when Ant noticed woogsworld.com was down. We immediately freaked out because we host that site, and it belongs to one of Australia’s biggest bloggers.
There was nothing wrong with the server, however.
Further investigation revealed … the domain had expired.
I laughed to myself because it’s the kind of thing Kayte (owner and blogger at woogsworld.com) tends let happen.
(I know she won’t mind me saying that – she freely acknowledges she is the least techy blogger in the world.)
I called her and her response, as it so often is in these situations, was ‘Agh, just take care of it for me Kel?’
‘No problems’, I thought.
Ant had already told me the domain was registered with GoDaddy so all I had to do was call them and sort it out.
Thus began a saga that stretched for two weeks.
When your domain registrar isn’t your registrar
It took several calls to GoDaddy to ascertain that while they were deemed to be the registrars of the domain, because it was actually registered through Blogger years ago when the blog was first created, that meant the domain could only be renewed through Google.
Ok – no probs. But why on earth hadn’t Kayte been getting renewal notices?
It turns out she had, but:
- They were from a spammy looking email address (like securenet.something.com).
- They indicated that her domain was set up to auto renew.
So, even if she’d seen the emails, she’d have seen the domain was going to be automatically renewed and thus ignored them.
The only problem was … the credit card on file had expired.
Was there a link to click in the email where you could update your credit card details on file? Yep – but it took you to a Google login that we didn’t have the username and password for.
“But, surely you could just retrieve the username and password?”
You’d think so! We tried. Oh, God, we tried. I can’t even begin to describe the circles we went in trying to retrieve those details.
It was at this point that GoDaddy advised us to transfer the domain to them. They would then renew it for us. Unfortunately, that whole process was going to take 2-3 days.
So, we set the wheels in motion for that to happen.
But, we still needed to get the website back up post haste. Kayte had a radio appearance scheduled for the following week plus a sponsored post. (Keep in mind, sponsored posts comprise the majority of her income.)
So, we registered woogsworld.com.au and made the site live on that domain.
A day or so later we got an email from Google saying we didn’t have permission to transfer the woogsworld.com domain to GoDaddy.
Cue tears and much gnashing of teeth.
How this domain situation crippled Kayte’s business
While it might have seemed like ‘Hey, Kayte’s site is back up at the .com.au and everyone can see it so … problem solved’, it was anything but.
Remember I said that most of Kayte’s blog income is derived from sponsored posts? Well, the rate she’s able to command for those posts is dependent on traffic.
What drives the bulk of traffic for her site? Google organic search.
Where was Google sending all the Woogsworld organic search traffic to? The .com site, not the .com.au.
If we weren’t able to get Kayte’s .com domain back, she was going to lose her livelihood.
Long story short
It took another week to sort everything out because it took that long to:
- Figure out the right helpline to call at Google.
- Call them only to find out they weren’t open 24 hours.
- Wake up at 4am to be able to call them during their business hours.
- Sort out the right access and update the credit card details.
- Think everything is sorted.
- Wait for the domain to be released from redemption.
- Realise that even though it appeared we’d paid for the domain renewal, it wasn’t being released from redemption.
- Spend a day being sent in circles.
- Wake up at 4am again to call GoDaddy in Australia so they could put me through to the right department in the US.
- Finally manage to transfer the domain to GoDaddy and pay for 10 years’ worth of renewal so this situation never happens again!
It sounds almost easy detailing it in those 10 steps above. The reality was, every time we encountered a new roadblock, it took time to figure out how to get around it. If you know exactly who to contact to get help, things are easy. When you don’t, everything becomes difficult.
Why domains are important
If your business’ income is reliant on Google search traffic, then you cannot afford to ever lose your domain name. Ditto if your email address is email@example.com. If you lose your domain, you lose access to your emails.
How do you ensure what happened to Kayte never happens to you?
- Ensure you know where your domain is registered.
Quite often your web developer or web host will register your domain for you. That’s fine – so long as you know who did the registering for you!
If you registered your domain through Blogger, WordPress, Weebly, Wix or the like – please understand, your domain is going to be harder to get hold of. I strongly advise getting in touch with those people and asking how you can transfer the domain to another registrar. Today!
- Ensure you have access to the domain.
This is the most important thing as it means if something goes wrong with your domain (like the registration lapsing), you can rectify the situation quickly.
Because we didn’t know exactly who woogsworld.com was registered with, it meant we wasted days chasing the wrong people to try and sort things out.
In the end
Domains are easy things to be a bit blasé about. As a rule, they chug along, renew themselves every 1-2 years, and you’ll seldom encounter problems with them. But that’s also the problem. Because problems are infrequent, when something does occur, we just don’t know where to go to solve it.
Finding out where your domain is hosted/registered and getting assurance that someone has access to it if ever a problem arises is a very worthwhile time investment to make in your business. Today! ?
This post first appeared on the Swish Design blog and is republished here with full permission.