Domain Name Registration services use some clever tactics to try and maximise their revenues as I discovered when I changed my other website domain to www.la-lente.com.au and received some interesting letters in the mail wanting nearly $100 for something that normally costs $20.
Coming up with a domain name ideas is one of the first steps to take when you are working on your digital marketing strategy and before you start your website design. The way the internet and search engines work have evolved significantly in recent years so the URL is nowhere near as important as the content that is on the site.
In 2018 the ACCC investigated & subsequently ordered Domain Name Corp and Domain Name Agency to pay $1.95 million in penalties (see the announcement) after successfully proving that from November 2015 to at least April 2017, the two Domain Companies sent out approximately 300,000 unsolicited notices to businesses, which looked like a renewal invoice for the business’s existing domain name.
Instead, these notices were for the registration of a new domain name at a cost ranging from $249 to $275 instead of the usual $20 or so. I explain what domain registration means and how you can avoid paying too much for yours.
What is Domain Name Registration?
It’s the name you use for your website online so people can find you easily.
Domain Name Registration is one of the most common things any business owner will do when they are starting their business to sell products or services, also an important part to your digital marketing strategy. A domain name registrar is a company that manages the reservation of Internet domain names. They have to be be accredited by a generic top-level domain registry or a country code top-level domain registry. A registrar operates in accordance with the guidelines of the designated domain name registries and in many cases will also offer website hosting services, customer service, local data centres and even an SSL certificate.
You buy a selected name from them so that you can then use that URL to build your website, set up email accounts, start using a website builder or get your WordPress hosting started on a separate web hosting plan.
When should you do Domain Name Registration?
Once you have decided on a business name you should register your domain name.
Sometimes people will have an existing business name that has been trading for many years, so getting Domain Name Registration is relatively easily as nobody else will be using that name, so it’s unique and available.
Other times you might be trying to create a new brand, have a new idea or building a service in an existing competitive industry. Companies like Shopify even have a free business name generator tool. Getting the exact name you want to register your domain name for might not be possible. So sometimes it is worthwhile working out business names at the same time as testing what Domain Names are available so you can see what can be purchased and secured.
You might be operating a business in Sydney, so you’d opt for a .com.au TLD for your Domain Name, but you can then also purchase the .com, .sydney, .org, .net.au versions as well. You won’t use all of them but you are securing them to protect your brand and business so they can’t be used or bought by other people.
How many Domain Name Registration options are there?
There are hundreds of companies that sell domain name registration & hundreds of TLD’s available.
It is important to understand the three key areas to look at when you are thinking about setting up your new domain and many people get confused with this.
- Domain Name; this is the name of the URL so for example mybusiness.com.au that people will see when the website is online. There could be other versions like mybusiness.net.au etc. There are hundreds of domain name registration companies such as GoDaddy, CrazyDomains, Netregistry and others who will all sell domain names where you can buy it for 1 or more years. These companies will then attempt to sell their other website hosting, eMail and support services.
- Website Hosting; once you have your Domain Name registered you need somewhere to actually host your website so people can find it on the internet. So it is like hiring online storage and the computing power to show your website to people. There are hundreds of choices for website hosts as well and typically if you register your Domain Name with the same company as your web hosting it does make things a little easier to manage long term.
- URL TLD choices; A top-level domain (TLD) is one of the domains at the highest level in the hierarchical Domain Name System of the Internet. The top-level domain names are installed in the root zone of the name space that gives you the .com, .com.au, .business etc and there are hundreds of these to choose from as well. It means someone might have mybusiness.com but you can register mybusiness.com.au. Where possible you want to try and avoid this so that you can own your name and the variations online.
How much should you pay for Domain Name Registration?
The cost of Domain Name Registration will vary based on the name and TLD chosen.
Very generally a domain name will cost around $20 to register for one year and this is the case for most names as they are typically generic and unique to your business, hence nobody else would want to buy it. Where the cost can rise is if you are trying to buy something like music.com.au where it is a generic, very broad term. In many cases these ones might be worth thousands of dollars.
Every Domain Name Registration company will let you put in names and variations so you can compare the different costs & decide which ones will suit your business. Some of them will even create bundles where you can buy multiple variations at a discounted price.
How do Domain Name Registration companies make extra money?
We were quoted $99 inc gst for registering a Domain Name vs $20 elsewhere.
It pays to do your homework and understand the different pricing and offers available for domain name registration. This includes the cost for variations or close variants of your name, so for example we registered www.la-lente.com.au because at the time www.lalente.com.au wasn’t available. We then received offers in the mail from New Domain Services and Registry Australia to buy the non hyphenated version of our name.
- $99 – Registry Australia
- $80 – New Domain Services
- $20 – Siteground
- $17 – CrazyDomains
- $16 – GoDaddy
A quick search online and we bought our name for \$20 from our existing website host, so we saved over \$70 and have the added benefit of managing the domain name with our existing provider that has a customer service team we use regularly, local data centre, lots of choices of website hosting services and even run our email accounts.
What prices did we find elsewhere to register the same domain name?
As you can see below, we did a quick price comparison for the same domain name registration and generally it was about the same with pricing between $16 and $20 with GoDaddy even offering 3 domains for the price of just $27 for the first year.
Of course what was hard to see was pricing after the first year which could be higher. We ultimately chose to register the alternative Domain Name with Siteground for simplicity sake but it did leave us questioning the rationale behind New Domain Services and Registry Australia’s pricing given the amount of online competition.
ACCC "Beware of unsolicited domain name registration offers"
The ACCC issued a warning in 2016 about unsolicited domain name registration letters.
“In 2016, the ACCC received over 100 complaints from small businesses that received similar letters and paid not realising what they have paid for. Some mistakenly thought they were renewing their current domain name and risked missing the genuine renewal notice.“
The full story is available on the ACCC Website that was shared in 2016 about the practices from various companies with a letter that has the appearance of an invoice or renewal notice, including common features such as credit card payment logos, a payment option tear off slip and sometimes barcodes.
The ACCC offer an online tool to submit information relating to potential scams here