….and why domain name registrars are still indispensable partners for you
On June 15 2023, seemingly in order to clean up its portfolio of products and services, Google announced the sale of its domain registrar business affecting a decent number of of customers and their Second-Level domain names to Squarespace, a U.S. Web Hosting company. Coincidentally, this very hosting company had only recently put infrastructure projects of its own on Google’s public cloud platform GCP. Manus manum lavat – one may say – a classical win-win situation.
Footprint in UTF8
But that’s not the thing I want to focus on. Instead, I decided to write this article while reflecting about Domain Names and their heritage – more precisely: 2nd-level domain names of an either generic Top Level such as .com or a country-level one such as .nl. I still remember the early days of the domain goldrush more than twenty years ago. To have a digital home in HTML country was a magic dream. To send e-mails from your own sender name. To bite into a global cake of automatic TCP/IP-protocolled data packeting and #DNS routing. To just be present on THE Internet, to do business there, to organize work or hobby and address people, friends customers, all this manifested in the registration of a Domain name with a #NIC, a Domain registry, mostly brokered by a commercial registrar. Your dedicated clear name in ordinary writing. Letters, numbers, the whole UTF8 mix instead of a string of numbers. A personal brand name nobody could occupy once registered. All that for a few pennies or Dollars a month.
Technical interfaces made easy
Not only vanity or profit instinct or customer relationship lead to registering a fancy name. No, the magic of a 2nd-level Domain name just lay and still lies in its suitability to be THE perfect and intuitive UX for humans interacting with server instances. IP addresses, network routing, Internet Exchange Points, peering points, CLIs – no average internet user has to worry about what is going to happen once clicked, pressed enter, send or confirm. All domain name queries are automatically being resolved by an appropriate DNS server. (How does the DNS system work?) That’s democracy turned into tags by a browser – for sure facilitated by search engines.
A trusted man in the middle
However, having stated that domain names are still somehow the mandatory backbone of the Net in terms of how to easily address components of the net as a human being, it should be obvious that the handling of those names deserves both proficiency and commitment. In short: holders of a domain name need a professional registrar. A domain name registrar acts as the middleman between the registry operator and a registrant; the person who has registered a domain name. The domain name registrar handles the process of updating the registry when a customer purchases a new domain name.
As part of that, it keeps track of which domain names are available and typically provide customers with an intuitive search tool to find out what options they have. They handle the financial transaction with the customer, and provide the tools needed to maintain the domain name subscription over time which is the most essential factor since you can only rent a domain name. In case of defaulting your payment it might happen that you lose your precious name. So, beware of the registrar. Thank God there are quite a few reliable ones out there. And they thoroughly remind you in time on necessary actions such as renewing a reservation, or, as IONOS, register it as long as you pay and renew registrations on your behalf.
Fierce competition has shaped a consolidated set of domain name service providers
Since 1998, the kick-off year for mass-market registration, millions and millions of names and acronyms have been registered or parked for later use or just to deny a certain term to a competitor. Registrars such as IONOS, Strato, InternetX, Domainfactory in Germany or Godaddy, Tucows in the US have competed fiercely in order to offer the best service in registering and servicing a ‘name’ to the most affordable price. But, as a victim of its own success, most meaningful key words are now gone and reserved. Even inventing more and more top-level domains to broaden the range of available names and giving them more focus – by Top-Levels such as .berlin or .sport – have not solved the shortage. And the original ones such as .com or .co.uk are still the most popular ones.
The after-market must not be a financial trap
Eventually, the so-called secondary or domain aftermarket has grown in importance. Service providers such as SEDO or Afternic have specialized in procuring and brokering the name you are keen on. For a business on the rise this might be especially of interest. So, they are prepared to pay even a multi-digit amount of money for it just in order to get the perfect figurehead for their brand and complete a missing piece for the marketing strategy of their business.
A faithful custodian
A proper brand name needs a catchy domain name – a fact even Smartphone Applications and Machine-to-Machine communication could not contradict. Even more: More often than not, social media communication points to a landing page or blog fitted out with a personal domain name. But be careful where to put ‚your‘ name and consider thoroughly where to shop your personal brand in www. And you can’t afford losing your name. Inattentive registrars might miss to renew registrations on your behalf. Once restituted to the domain registry, anyone can seize it; something which can happen within seconds. Ruthless providers might be tempted to lure you with cheap prices upfront and impose a surcharge with a renewal.
IONOS has a long heritage in supporting domain name holders to secure, build and grow their digital estate into a flourishing presence on the Net for an affordable price. And IONOS is a faithful custodian for your online premise.