It’s a common misconception that purchasing a domain name grants the new owner lifetime ownership of that address. In reality, domains need periodic renewal, like the tenancy agreement on a rental property. Failing to take the necessary steps to renew can cause significant issues, particularly in terms of search engine optimisation…
In this guide, we will give you helpful tips on how to keep up with your domain portfolio and proactively protect and manage your domains and domain authority. But first, let’s look closely at the administration and renewal of domains.
Domains are managed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN. Among other duties, they’re responsible for deciding which top-level domains, or TLDs, are available. These are the suffixes at the end of a web address. For example, the UK2.NET website’s TLD is .net.
ICANN permits registrar companies like UK2.NET to register and lease domain names to customers, who effectively buy the rights to an address without acquiring permanent ownership. Registration periods may last for anything between a year and a decade, depending on what was agreed to during the initial domain registration.
Once a domain is registered, it is up to the customer to renew their domain name as necessary once the initial registration period has expired. This can be done automatically with a pre-designed payment arrangement, or manually prior to the domain expiration date.
If a client chooses not to renew their ownership at the end of this pre-agreed ownership period, the domain name is returned to UK2.NET. At that point, we can declare the domain name expired. That’s fine if the client is happy to walk away, but it’s a scenario best avoided if the website is still needed.
If this sounds like a scenario best avoided, remember that the automatic renewal of domains is a standard feature when purchasing a domain from UK2.NET. This helps to prevent domain name expired scenarios from occurring by accident. Even if this (recommended) option hasn’t been selected from the outset, our customers are informed well in advance about renewals. We invite customers to renew their domain names and continue operating as normal, either by contacting us or through their login portal.
Domain registration woes
Not all registrar companies and domain resellers are as proactive as UK2.NET. Some will send a single reminder to their customers using whichever email address was registered at the start, while others simply don’t bother. In these situations, it’s up to the client to remember when their domain name expired. This can be achieved by viewing old correspondence with the reseller, or through a WHOIS lookup.
Every website has a WHOIS record, detailing its creation and expiry dates. These can be found on a number of websites – Nominet is the official registry for domain names ending in .UK. A simple search engine trawl will reveal the best place to identify a particular site’s WHOIS lookup, and no login credentials or personal details are required.
What happens to expired domains?
If a domain isn’t renewed by the conclusion of the registration period, it technically ceases to belong to the client. However, ICANN has designed a couple of backups into the system, which companies like UK2.NET are happy to follow.
An initial grace period of up to 45 days begins, enabling the previous owner to reclaim their domain without any complications. This is intended to cover unexpected issues like long-term illness or cash flow problems that may have prevented renewal taking place during the agreement period. After this, ICANN insists on a 30-day redemption grace period where the domain can still be retrieved with an additional late penalty fee applied.
When the redemption grace period ends, the domain name is treated as expired. It is then made available on the open market by the reseller. It is still possible for the previous owner to repurchase it, but this is rare since considerable reputational damage will have been done by this point. The hosting company may eventually decide to enter that domain back into the global registry, so anyone can purchase it through any registrar or reseller.
What about website SEO?
The search engines immediately write off most of an offline or inactive site’s SEO value, damaging its performance in ranking results. However, external links may still point to that domain, ensuring a degree of residual interest among the web crawlers. A domain that’s been dormant for some time can, therefore, be relaunched with a slight advantage over a newly-registered domain. This preexisting SEO value is referred to as domain authority and it can help you improve your search ranking if done properly.
How to increase your domain authority
As one of the most important SEO benchmarks yet devised, this website metric determines the likelihood of a particular website achieving a high ranking in search engine results pages (or SERPS). It also predicts traffic volumes, which are themselves crucial for generating new business.
What is domain authority?
The concept of domain authority was developed by SEO specialists Moz, though it has since evolved into a wider definition of a site’s search engine performance. While it relies on numerous factors, some carry particular weight when rating a site from 1 (very poor) to 100 (flawless). These elements include the volume of inbound site links and their perceived value. A link from your blog to your company website won’t be anywhere near as valuable as a link from the BBC or Daily Telegraph since these are clearly trustworthy portals. Few metrics provide a more accurate evaluation of a website’s value than companies willing to link to it.
Knowing how to increase domain authority for a website involves a blend of common-sense and creativity. Although any ranking will fluctuate organically over time, there are ways to boost your site’s domain authority.
Top ten dependable ways how to increase domain authority:
#1. Select a strong domain name.
SERPS prioritise websites hosted in the country where people are searching for results, so a country code top-level domain like co.uk is advantageous. Incorporating your location or industry into the main web address can also be beneficial, though there’s a balance between information and brevity. Shorter web addresses score more highly, so the brumdiy.co.uk address would perform far better than doityourselfhandymaninbirmingham.co.uk. If you’re interested, both domains are currently available from UK2.NET for just £1 per year…
#2. Remove bad links.
Scraper sites and aggregators often harvest company website addresses and email accounts, in an attempt to look authoritative. These lowbrow platforms then attempt to sell either advertising or the illicitly-obtained user data, so any association with them is inadvisable. Even though many of the companies listed haven’t provided consent for their data to be republished, their own website’s authority will be tarnished by association. Admittedly, some scraper sites and directories will ignore requests for removal, but others will acknowledge and accede to deletion demands. Avoid budget link farms like the plague – association with them can ruin your domain authority.
#3. Maximise good links.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are various ways to build favourable links with reputable external websites:
- Offer reciprocal links to related companies or suppliers.
- Generate press coverage or news stories that will be carried in the media.
- Pay for listings on authoritative directories and websites.
- Build a strong social media presence.
- Publish guest blogs, which the authors might link to themselves.
It’s important to note multiple links from a single website won’t impress the search engines. Long links are also a turn-off, so keep them short or use abbreviators like bit.ly.
#4. Build internal links.
The value of links between pages within a website is often underestimated. Internal backlinks suggest a site packed with useful information, particularly if a regularly-updated blog offers links to specific product pages. Internal links are free and creating them is easy, yet many companies fail to exploit their potential. A sitemap is also vital.
#5. Exploit coding opportunities.
Significant SEO value is attached to image captions, webpage title tags, robots.txt files and various other programming snippets that aren’t necessarily visible to people viewing the site. These code fragments are aimed more at search engines than people, though an effective page description will persuade audiences to click on a link when it appears in their search results.
#6. Upload regular content.
Search engines love daily updates, from Facebook links to a prolific blog or news page. Blogs are especially useful since they can be written in colloquial terms that require less technical research. There’s also a potential for encouraging guest bloggers, who will often see their own sites and social media accounts peppered with valuable backlinks to their entry on your own site. These industry influencers can be powerful associates.
#7. Maximise SEO benefits of existing text.
As well as frequent updates, a website’s evergreen content needs to appeal to search engines. The inclusion of long-tail keywords is particularly beneficial – these are exact terms people search for, like “how to increase domain authority”. Because this specific long-tail term is used several times in this article, this page will perform optimally in searches for it. Platforms like Google Analytics help to identify terms people in your industry commonly search for.
#8. Build for mobile.
It’s well-known that most global web traffic is now displayed on mobile devices. And while Google and Bing keep the precise composition of their search engine algorithms under wraps, we do know mobile-optimised displays score extra brownie points. Use responsive page frameworks with minimal coding and no autoplaying media content, keeping menus and navigation as simple as possible.
#9. Optimise loading times.
Expanding on the last point, mobile audiences are often using flaky 4G or sluggish Wi-Fi connections. Their user experience depends on a rapid page display, and search engines attempt to calculate this by scanning each page’s content. Removing superfluous code or plugins can slash loading times, alongside compressing graphics.
#10. Harness social media.
As a key traffic driver, a strong social media presence is invaluable. Create engaging profiles that are regularly updated with original content, network extensively, and try to build relationships with high-profile industry personalities. Commenting on other people’s posts has some merit, though it’s often better to start a debate yourself on LinkedIn or Facebook. A robust social media presence can significantly enhance your wider DA, particularly with extensive inbound links.
Knowing how to increase domain authority also encompasses factors like a website’s overall age, which can’t really be enhanced or boosted. However, it does illustrate why you should avoid rebranding or 301 redirects unless absolutely necessary. Effective DA management will create a virtuous circle where better visibility drives more traffic to boost brand awareness, in turn supporting better visibility.
As a result, understanding how to increase domain authority is a vital asset in any webmaster or entrepreneur’s armoury, especially when a webmaster has multiple domains pointing to the same website. If you are unsure of how to redirect multiple domains to your website, see the helpful directions below…
How To Create A Redirect For Multiple Domains
There are many circumstances where having multiple domain names might be beneficial. Perhaps your company name has a quirky spelling, and people keep mistyping its address into their browser. Maybe you’ve rebranded, but want to maintain the old URLs for people with browser Favourites. Or perhaps choosing an unusual top-level domain necessitates a .com address, for people who mistakenly assume a .me or .co TLD has characters missing.
From June 2019 there’ll be another reason to use redirects, once the moratorium on .uk website purchases comes to an end. For now, owners of co.uk websites have exclusive rights to acquire corresponding .uk domains. But all bets are off next June, meaning a competitor could start cybersquatting at a similar URL. Acquiring both the co.uk and .uk domains enables traffic redirection from one to the other. India has already transitioned from co.in to .in, and the United Kingdom is expected to gradually follow suit.
Setting up a redirect
There are five separate ways to redirect traffic from one webpage to another, each performing a slightly different function:
301 – this is a permanent redirect indicating the original content is no longer located at that URL
302 – a temporary redirect, sending visitors to a holding page or social media account
303 – used to redirect web browsers to a different resource, such as from HTTP to HTTPS
307 – a temporary web developer tool, which can’t be used to transition between secure and insecure web pages
308 – a permanent version of a 307
The last three options were created after instabilities were identified in the behaviour of 302s. Unless you’re a website developer, a 301 is the only redirect worth knowing about. However, setting one up varies according to which platform the website is being managed through:
UK2 Website Builder
Our own website builder supports easy redirects through the Site Settings menu, where Redirects > Add a redirect can be found. Enter origin and destination pages, click Save and the newly-added redirect will be listed as active.
Log in and go to the Domains section, where a dedicated Redirects button is located. Choose 301 from the Type drop-down, specifying the URL being redirected and its location, before clicking Add.
Open a format-free text editor like Notepad, and type ‘Redirect 301 / http://www.newURLdestination.com/’. Save the file as .htaccess on the server hosting every other website file and folder.
Various plugins have been created to organise 301s, including the unambiguously titled Easy 301 Redirects and Simple 301 Redirects. Each plugin lives up to its name, providing a guided sequence of instructions.
Right-click on the file or folder to be redirected in Internet Services Manager, choose ‘Redirection to a URL’ and enter the new address, before checking ‘the exact URL entered above’ and ‘a permanent redirection for this resource.’
You can repeat the process above as many times as necessary, to ensure every relevant web page redirects to an appropriate location.