Don't Let Those Domains Expire
Friday, February 14, 2003
In the land grab days of the Web, many people bought up the first domain that
sounded good to them. In many cases, they were unsure how they would even use
that domain. Later, as their online endeavors gained focus, they found a better
domain. Recently, many customers have questioned us as to why they should continue
to pay for both domains. Why not just let that old, ugly one expire? Well, we'll
First, many friends, family and customers know that old domain. They use that
domain even though you've told them otherwise. They added that domain to their
address books where it will remain for a seemingly interminable amount of time.
In fact, if you look closely at the "to" field of the messages you receive,
you'll no doubt see just how many people still send e-mail to you via your old
The second reason is Web site traffic. A quick look at your Web
site statistics (check out "referring sites" under "referrals reports") will
show you just how many people still reach your Web site by that dreadful old
domain name. But where does all that traffic come from? You've long since taken
it out of all your brochures and print ads. Where are all these people finding
that old domain name?
The most obvious reason is that people have linked to your site over time. Perhaps
another Web site owner was trading reciprocal links with you. Perhaps a customer
recommended your site in a forum somewhere. Regardless, the search engines found
these links and, now, they too direct traffic to your site using the old domain
In many cases, search engines that no longer accept free submissions still link
to old domains. The cost of submitting the new domain to the search engines
would greatly outweigh the cost of simply renewing the registration of the old
domain. In other words, people now-a-days pay to be where you're at: don't just
casually toss it away.
So, what can you do if you absolutely have to be rid of the old domain for whatever
reason? You will need to expend some effort (and possibly money) to ensure
that doing so won't adversely affect your customers or put you out of contact
with friends and family.
First, start by watching the "To" field in the messages you receive. If you
receive a message from a legitimate source (a.k.a. not spam) that is addressed
to an account at your old domain, take the time to reply to that person and
ask them to update their address book.
Here's a tip. Many mail clients will allow you to set up "inbox rules." Inbox
rules check all incoming mail for certain criteria and forward matching messages
to predetermined locations. You can set up a rule to copy all incoming mail
sent to the old domain to a folder. This will help draw your attention to these
The second step you'll need to take is to have your site resubmitted to the
search engines. If you are on a budget, you may only be able to have the free
ones done. If you can afford the third-party fees, then have your site resubmitted
to all the major search engines. Make sure that whoever does the submission
knows to use the new domain, not the old.
Third, find out which Web sites link to your site using the old domain name.
This is easier than it sounds. The Google
Advanced Search will allow you to search for links. Simply type the old
domain name (you may need to prepend "www.") in the field labeled "links" and
click the "Search" button.
Now comes the hard part. You'll have to go through each one of those results
and contact the ower of every one of those Web sites, asking them to update
their Web site to reflect the new domain. Keep in mind that you are asking them
for a favor. A curt or rude request may get your link completely dropped.
We recommend creating a list of sites which link to your site using the old
domain name. For each site, create a list of pages which contain such links.
When you contact the Web site owners, provide them with the list of pages
and provide alternate links. The less work they have to go through, the more
likely they will be to cooperate and the less chance for mistake.
Be forewarned, it can be costly to change your mind. Expired domain names now go through
period. If you let the old domain name expire only to find that you've made
a very bad mistake, it will cost you hundreds of dollars to reclaim that domain
name during the redemption period.
The Internet has a memory which fades slowly over time. Consequently, the costs
of letting a domain name expire are generally much greater than the cost of
domain name registration fees for the next decade. Furthermore, the time involved
can be monumental, and the process, tedious. Keep these things in mind when
making your decision.