As one of the most popular, instantly recognisable websites on the internet, Google.com is visited by millions of web users every month. Were the domain name ever to go on sale, it would be worth millions of dollars.
Except that when it was put up for sale in error last month, a former Google employee managed to buy the address for just $12 (about £7.80). The error was quickly discovered and the sale cancelled – the buyer, Sanmay Ved, owned the address for a little over a minute. Realising their error, Google offered Ved a cash reward for helping expose the ‘glitch’ in their system.
So what is the relevance of Ved’s experiences to smaller businesses? Probably a lot more than you think.
Keep an eye on your domain names
When buying a domain, your business never actually owns the address; instead you own the rights to use the address. The process is very similar to buying a leasehold on a property – you never actually own the property outright, just the right to use it exclusively for the length of the lease.
Generally .co.uk domain names are registered for two years, after which you need to renew, or relinquish your rights to them. If your business fails to renew the domain name, it becomes available for purchase by anyone else; this could be how Mr Ved was able to buy Google.com.
Google were lucky
Because Mr Ved actually happened to buy Google.com directly through Google, they were able to cancel his sale before any major changes took place. Had no one noticed the purchase, a less scrupulous buyer could have used the domain to point at his own website, snaring thousands of unsuspecting users and displaying any manner of content to them.
Should your business find itself in a similar situation, there could be serious damage to your company reputation. Visitors to a corporate site would be less than impressed to instead land on one peddling fake medications, malware or pornography. And it could prove extremely costly if reclaiming rights to the domain name involves the courts too.
Protecting your domain name is necessary
Domain name investors can, and do, monitor popular websites with a view to snapping up expiring addresses. Some use the new address as a springboard for their own site, relying on existing traffic to boost their search engine rankings and visitor count. Others speculators effectively ransom the address, charging the original owner a premium to regain their rights.
Your business’ website address may be the target of these attentions already – but you would never know until it is too late and you have lost control of the domain name.
To avoid losing the rights to your domain name, ensure that you buy your domain name through a trusted supplier such as Broadband Cloud Solutions, who can either renew automatically for you, or can send you reminders. To get a domain name registered, or to find out about domain protection, please call our expert team today.
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