How would you rate your knowledge of domain management? Is it good? Bad?
Although the domain system is not too complex, many consider it tasking, especially when they have a vast domain portfolio.
It’s no wonder then that most business owners employ web firms or agencies to assist with their domain management. Of course, there are some pros and cons to this approach.
While you get to have more time on your hands, you'll have little or no knowledge about handling the registration of new domain names, managing a domain renewal, and web hosting — all of which are essential things to know as a business owner.
If you're looking to learn a little more about domain management and examples of software for domain portfolio management, then this guide is for you.
Domain management refers to the process involved in choosing, hosting, and maintaining a domain name for as long as you use the said domain (or domains).
Domain Names and Domain Management
As a quick refresher, a domain name is an essential part of your online presence that defines your space or "real estate" on the internet.
Think of domain names as physical addresses for offices where mail is sent and where people drive to if they want to visit. If someone wants to visit your website, that person will have to type your domain name into a search engine or browser to access it. Your domain name "points" to your website just as your physical address "points" to your office.
The most common domain names have the ".com" extension like hubspot.com. Other extensions include ".org,"".net,"and ".edu."
An important aspect of domain management involves tracking a domain name's expiry date and knowing when a renewal is due. If you don’t renew your domain name on time, users wouldn’t be able to access your site, and you also wouldn’t be able to create or post anything on your site.
Corporate Domain Management
Many corporate businesses usually own other related domain names and extensions aside from their primary domain name.
For example, Apple’s primary domain name is apple.com, but they also own apple.net, apple.co, and other similar names and extensions.
Without controlling these extra domains, phishing websites and cybersquatters could use unclaimed domain names to defraud your customers or even sell the domain names at unreasonable prices back to you.
One of the best ways to combat this issue is to register other general top-level domains (gTLDs) just like Apple did. If you’re a global company, you should consider registering country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs) like .uk and .us.
Registering other domains under your umbrella would mean that you have a vast domain portfolio, so how do you manage all of it? You can use domain management services to help with domain renewals, domain name management, maintaining website security, and portfolio audits to remove unwanted domains.
A Basic DNS Glossary
- DNS (domain name server or domain name system): A server that translates a web address into one or more IP addresses.
- Registrar: If you want your website to be called MyTastySandwich.com, then that domain must be registered with an entity called a "registrar." A registrar is a company that issues and manages domain names.
- IP Address: Your website lives on a web server and has a specific address assigned to it, called an IP address, which stands for Internet protocol address and is made up of four segments separated by a period, like 123.456.789.123. This IP address points to your website.
- Name Servers: These are machines set up specifically to route domain names to the proper IP address. When a domain name is delegated to a set of name servers, the name servers have the authority to point the domain name anywhere. Name servers are usually set up by the company that hosts your website. For example, SpinWeb's name servers are identified with the names "ns1.spinweb.net" and ns2.spinweb.net". This means that if a domain name is delegated to those name servers, SpinWeb can point the domain anywhere needed.
- SSL Certificates: Installing these certificates helps customers know your site is secure — meaning they can buy straight from your site no matter where they're based
Who should control your domain name registration?
Imagine this scenario where you hire someone to set up your site, register your domain name, and manage all of the DNS stuff for you. Convenient, right? Yes, very — until said IT Person moves to Barbados and forgets to tell you.
Now, your domain name is expiring, and you don’t know how to log in, where to log in, or how to update your information. Maybe you don’t even find out about this until your domain has already expired. What a nightmare.
Many organizations hand over control of their domain management to an agency simply because they don't understand how it works.
Or, if they need a new domain registered, they will ask their agency to do it for them. In most cases, I’m heavily in favor of outsourcing many things to a digital agency.
However, my preference is always for our clients to retain control over their domains when it comes to domains.
Your domain is the most critical component of your online presence. It controls who can get to your website, your email, portfolio or blog, and any other online properties you own.
So if you’re not hiring an agency, who should manage your domain in-house? It depends on your business type and size.
If you’re a one-person show, then the responsibility undoubtedly is in your hands — the domain owner.
Most registrars have a pretty easy-to-use control panel or interface that will allow you to make updates to your domain name, specify who in your company is in control of it, and what nameservers it points to.
If your organization is large, you’ll need to involve the marketing, sales, and legal departments.
But why these three departments?
Most companies already leave their domain management to the IT department because the department is responsible for any technical issue that their website has. But your IT personnel shouldn’t be the only ones involved.
The marketing department usually does (or at least shows) their work on the business website, so it’s essential they know what it takes to keep the website up and running.
And the legal team? You should involve them to assist with dispute resolution and warning you of any potential controversy registering a new domain might have.
When these three different departments collaborate, you’ll have more people concerned about your domain registration, reducing the chances of it ever expiring or falling into the wrong hands.
Domain Management Software
If you choose to manage your domain by yourself, here are some tools and software that can help.
- Lean Domain Search: Simply enter a word you want your domain to include, and Lean Domain Search will turn up domain names that are available based on different variations of that word.
- Domainr: This handy tool gives you a quick snapshot of what is available for your domain, as well as alternatives.
- Whois.net: Look up information on a domain name to see who owns it, when it expires, and much more.
- GoDaddy.com: Find the perfect domain name, register it, and set up your hosting all in one place.
- SiteGround: Choose web hosting, WordPress hosting, and WooCommerce hosting.
- Bluehost: Choose shared hosting, WooCommerce hosting, or managed WordPress hosting.
(Check out this list to find pros and cons for these hosting services.)
Portfolio Management Tools
- Rage Domainer: Track your domain and sites and sync domain expiration dates with your calendars.
- Domain Punch: Monitor domain and SSL expiry dates. The tool also imports domain names and retrieves data directly from registrars like GoDaddy and Namecheap.
Ready to manage your domain names?
Whether you're a small business owner or the head of a large corporation, you need to know about managing your domains or domain portfolio. It might not be easy at first, but you'll be glad you learned how to manage your domain account (or accounts) with time.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in [Insert original publish date] and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published May 20, 2021 7:00:00 AM, updated January 20 2023