I have some great friends who are in a band called The Dropa Stone in Orlando, FL. They’ve played hundreds of shows and practice several times a week. Each member is an expert at their craft, which has yielded some impressive improvisational jams. Their followers have discovered them from all over the world, and they always gain a new loyal fan at each show. They have made thousands of dollars off their merchandise and they are almost always writing new music. The band is even sponsored by a well-recognized national vegan food brand—Tofurkey—which is very impressive.
In the Fall, their lead singer left the band for a new job in another state. In fact, they all remain best of friends. But musicians are not always business savvy, and they forgot one of the most important parts of their business: Their website. Their former lead singer’s credit card had expired, and the band registered their domain and hosted their website with GoDaddy. Guess what. The domain and hosting also expired.
The internet is very much like the Wild Wild West. There are hundreds of thousands of people who make it their business to exploit whomever they can on the internet. In the domain business, there are sharks who locate all the expired domains and snap them up before they can be renewed. That is exactly what happened to my friends.
What is Lost?
For six years they wrote content and used their website as a portal and press kit to reach out to fans and act as their calling card for new shows around the country. They proudly displayed their website on all their merchandise. Along with registering domains for multiple years, the band also did not have backups of their content.
It’s all gone now.
This should never happen. Even when GoDaddy calls the phone number on record months before your domain is set to expire. It is imperative to ensure that your domain, hosting, and all your social media websites are always under your control.
Domain registration and renewals are often times the least expensive aspect of running a website. A simple 10 year registration for a new .com domain can cost less than $120 if you find a decent GoDaddy coupon.
Whenever we are hired to do a website review, we always look the domain expiration date using WHOIS look-ups. In this day and age, where Google Calendar can notify you via email, SMS, and pop-up windows, there is no reason to ever allow for a domain to expire.
What You Should Do
Do yourself a favor, check your domain(s) and ensure that your credit card information on file is accurate and up-to date. Even better, save yourself time, money, and headache, and renew your domain for multiple years.
Make sure you have a multi-tiered backup solution with both locally and externally stored backup locations. WordPress has a nauseating amount of backup plugins, and most CPanel-based shared hosting platforms have one-click backups. There is no reason to ever lose content in this day and age where cloud storage is cheap and easily accessible.
What Happens Now?
My friends have not reached out to the new owner of their former domain. I’m certain that the new owner is going to ask for hundreds, if not thousands to purchase the domain. They did not register their band as a trademark, which does not give them any leverage in any court.
I’ve advised my friends in The Dropa Stone to get a couple of domains that are similar to their current domain, as well as contact the new owner through their private proxy service. At this juncture, it is best to remain civil as there is little legal ground for them to stand on, and hiring an attorney will cost as much as the price to purchase the domain from the new owner.
Have you ever had a situation like this? How did you recover? If at all? Let us know!
Steve Scott is the CEO & Director of Training at the Tampa SEO Training Academy. He has taught SEO skills to people from around the world and currently offers his hands-on search engine optimization training workshops in Tampa to individuals and businesses of all sizes. Corporate SEO training classes and consulting are also available.