Estimated reading time: around 7 minutes
If you’re just getting started with building your online presence, whether for yourself or for your business – you know you need to get a proper online home for your website and register your unique domain.
We already explained how domain names work, but now it’s time to dive in deep in order to debunk a myth of owning a domain name.
Yep, it’s a myth.
Or should we say – a widely spread misconception.
Did you know you can never truly buy and own your domain name?
We bet you’re a bit shocked and maybe slightly puzzled, but stick around because we’re about to share with you some intriguing facts about how the domain industry works.
The Internet Says Buying a Domain Name is Possible, So It Must Be True, Right?
Once you start to research your possibilities and brainstorm on the perfect domain name, you’ll see that there are a lot of online ads and how-to articles inviting you to buy a domain name or explaining to you how to do it.
This phrase “buy a domain name” is extensively used all across the web; even some domain registrars use it and you don’t have to be a genius to understand why. Given the fact you do make a purchase during the domain registration process, it’s somewhere implied that you have indeed bought yourself a domain name and became its legal owner. It’s yours and nobody else’s, right?
Let’s take a look at the search intent and the way users phrase their queries. We see that the phrase “buy a domain name” is much more disseminated than alternative phrases such as “purchase domain name” (also inaccurate) and “register a domain name”. Using Ahrefs, you can see that the phrase “buy a domain name” has an estimated monthly search volume of 11,000, while the other two have 6,900 each. (FIY, we took in mind the US market, just for the sake of this example.)
You can even track user interest over time and compare these three phrases in Google Trends for the last 12 months. As you can see, the phrase “buy a domain name” remains by far the most popular search query:
So, why is that? Bottom line is, we’re accustomed to using the verb “buy” when exchanging money for a certain product or good. It’s short, convenient, and we are positive people will understand us.
But, it’s important to know you cannot buy a domain name; you can only register it and renew it annually. So, it’s more precise to say you’re a registrant or a domain holder. You cannot be a domain owner.
You think we’re splitting hairs here? Potayto-potahto, is it? Not really. Keep reading.
Why You Need to Renew Your Domain Name
It is not possible to purchase a domain name, but you can continue “renting” it, year by year. Most of the registrars offer automatic auto-renewal, so that you can continue using your domain seamlessly after paying the renewal fee.
Here’s how it goes with .ME domains: if you do not renew it, the subject .ME domain will be deleted and it enters a 30-day redemption grace period. During this period, you can redeem your domain, usually at a higher price – but this depends on the sponsoring registrar. After this period, there are additional 5 days when no changes can be made to the domain; once these 5 days pass, the domain name is again publicly available for registration.
Needless to stay, if you do not renew your domain name, it will be brought back to the pool of available domain names. Be wary of cybersquatters as they are pretty savvy with finding business opportunities: they keep an eye on recently expired domain names and register them for themselves, in order to pry out money from the previous domain holder.
Finally, we have reached the ultimate “why”:
Why can’t you just buy yourself a domain name and have it for life?
The reasons are legitimate and it’s actually common sense. A non-profit organization Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is responsible for managing domain names. Thanks to the ICANN, the internet is a lovely organized space and you can never register a domain name that somebody else already holds. Every domain extension, such as .com, .net, .me or .ooo are operated by a registry which is given a permission from ICANN.
When you register a domain name, a registry leases it to you, but for a fixed period of time, typically a year and a maximum of 10 years. There are real reasons for these limited periods and you can compare it to registration plates for the cars. An assigned authority “prints” car registration plates, you pay for the registration plate and use it, but you have to go through a yearly check and re-registration or renewal.
Getting Started: Registering Your Domain Name
Many people think they can indeed make a one-time purchase and become lifetime owners of their chosen domain name. As you can see, that’s not the case.
Even the most prominent brands and companies have to renew their domain names; nobody is spared here. There are some pretty interesting cases when businesses simply forgot to renew their domain name. Believe it or not, this happened to Foursquare in 2010, when website experienced some downtime due to the fact they missed out on paying renewal fee. To make things worse, this happened after they’ve managed to raise $10 million in funding.
Now that you know the key difference between buying and registering your domain name, you’ve learned a valuable lesson about one fragment of how the domain industry works.
Building and publishing your own website is an exciting adventure, but you have to educate yourself in order to choose the best possible option for yourself. Choosing a proper domain name is important for your business and it can also help you with launching your personal brand.
Registering your domain name is super simple with .ME: in only 3 steps, you can search the availability of your domain name, pick a preferred registrar, and register your chosen name immediately. Easy peasy!
If you need any additional help, you can check out our FAQ section or contact us! We are excited to support your business or personal online corner for you. Make it personal and make it memorable with .ME!