Help, my domain has expired!

posted on Wednesday 8th October, 2014

Some of our clients choose to buy and manage their own domains. Usually this is without incident, but every now and again they forget to renew a domain.

Our handy guide explains what to do next…

Sometimes it’s not too late

When a domain expires, it is not instantly available to be registered by another party. In fact .uk domains can still be renewed up to 91 days after expiry.

Therefore your first port of call should be the registrar you bought the domain from. If the domain has only just expired you should be able to renew it without penalty.

If the domain expired some time ago or if you’ve had issues with the registrar, you should consider contacting the relevant domain name registry. This is ICANN for .com’s and Nominet for .uk’s.

We have found Nominet to be very helpful with such issues in the past and their renewal fees for expired domains maybe lower than the registrar’s. You will need to prove your identity though.

Play the waiting game

If the registrar’s costs prove too much (we have been quoted as much as $299 previously) or you have no luck with the registry, you may need to wait for the domain to expire in order to re-register it.

If this is the case, we strongly recommend you backorder the domain, so the second it expires your chosen provider automatically tries to purchase it. Most domain registrars offer this service and the costs are similar to a standard registration.

However be aware there is no guarantee that backordering the domain will be successful. You are also likely to have competition, especially if your domain is a strong brand or your website was highly ranked by Google.

Make them an offer they can’t refuse

So what do you do if you’re out of luck and someone else has registered the domain?

In the majority of cases, this will be by a cyber squatter type who is looking to resell the domain to you (or other interested parties) or make a quick advertising buck from the domain’s dwindling traffic.

Therefore the new registrant is likely to be open to offers, and you maybe able to re-purchase the domain for around £100-£200. Usually you can find the new registrants details via WHOIS.

Make it a re-branding opportunity

If everything else fails, choosing another domain maybe the only option left. This recently happened to one of our clients (David Cunningham) who was badly let down by the registrar.

As long as your hosting hasn’t also expired, you will still have a copy of the website. Some people choose something similar to the original domain (like David). For others it is a re-branding opportunity.

Whatever option you choose, communication is key. Update your customers as soon as possible and consider investing in Google Adwords until your search engine rankings recover.

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