Marauding Internet thieves are out there and in the unlikeliest of places. If you’re a web copywriter or web entrepreneur making your first foray
into domain buying, setting up your first website and attempting to carve out a tiny branded niche for yourself, BE WARNED. Do yourself a big favor and read this. Here’s what I just learned the hard way…and it wasn’t common knowledge…In fact I took this so seriously I actually have debated about posting it all, but it’s people like you and I that really need to know:
#1 Register your domain name– http://www.YourName.com .net, .org, http://www.YourBrand…..– through a domain registrar separate from your hosting company. Why? I know your hosting company could make it oh-so simple for you to register your brand spanking new domain through them, in fact they may even offer it for free as part of your hosting package, but you take a serious risk when you do so.
There have been hosting companies that have been “caught” frontrunning clients’ and customers’ domains. What that means: say you register your http://www.YourBrandname.com the day you buy your first hosting package–through your hosting co. Exciting, right? I know, owning your own piece of online real estate can be quite exhilarating. You tinker around with it for a week or so, getting a CSS template just right, learning html or finding some friend in the web dev biz that can help you throw up a website on the cheap- so you can get going. Then you decide it’s time to follow the advice of the domain pros and register a few of the close domain similarities. Unfortunately when you log onto your hosting company to register your brand variants you discover that one of your coincidentally unique and uncommon domain name variants has been recently registered by someone else at your hosting company–a private account holder of the same hosting company. How did that happen? This COULD BE a case of your hosting company frontrunning your domain. No business wants to admit that they do this, but some do and I have reason to believe they get away with it. For someone like me, new to domain registration and hosting this is simple for a company to do and right under my nose. In the words of an acquaintance of mine who’s heavily engaged in the domain investment world, any hosting company that frontruns your domain is “undercutting your brand and siphoning your traffic….This is the mark of a shady operation….” Bad business practice at best.
Now, where exactly was this insider information on the day you spent hours poring over internet sources for “best hosting company” or “buying a domain” ? Domain frontrunning is one of those terms used in the domain buying/investment world, a realm that seems quite hidden behind its own Iron Curtain. So I wanted to put it out there. I have reason to believe this just happened to me. And I’m not sure there’s a damn thing I can do about it, but alert other web copywriters and other newbie web entrepreneurs to the practice. But I’ll tell you what, it’s left a really bad taste in my mouth at a time when I was really excited to launch an online presence. And once that’s gone, it’s hard to get it back.
- Learn about domain front-running, read some of the insider sources on domain buying, go beyond the simple “how-tos.” Here’s a beginner article on the topic of domain front running. Digg it if you think others need to know about it.
- Register your domains outside your hosting company. Register your domain(s), then buy hosting–two separate transactions, two completely distinct companies (in fact a little online research just to make sure the registrar is in no way connected with your hosting company would be really worth your while at this juncture).
Economically, times are hard and everyone is looking for a competitive edge–it’s fierce out there. It’s unfortunate sad when a reputable company you think you can trust to help protect your online presence can suddenly be the shark you never expected lurking in your own pond.
Work strong with eyes wide open.