No-Name Domain Names

In the past many of you have asked for advice on registering a domain name. For several years I have done business with Namesecure and most likely recommended their services. I’m sorry to say that won’t be happening any longer.

Namesecure has been a big player in the domain name registrar business since it was “deregulated” back in 1998. They offered features like unlimited e-mail forwarding, domain name cloaking and an easy-to-use web site to manage your domain names and settings. It all worked and through the years I registered and managed a number of domains for myself and clients.

Ocassionally there were blackouts when the domain fell into limbo but these were rare and only lasted, at most, a couple of hours. But slowly they became more common. And then a couple of hours became a couple of days and things got a little heated. I contacted their support and was assured this was an unusual problem that was unavoidable and would not happen again.

A few months later I was moving a site and needed to change the settings for the domain name servers. I keyed in the new entries, saved them and made another pot of coffee. The site never showed up and I assumed it was taking a while to propogate around the `Net. The next day still brought no joy, so I went back to check my settings. D’ooop… it still showed the old DNS. Did I really forget to save it? I got suspicious and entered the new information again and saved it, logged out then went back to check. Same old IP addresses were listed, the Namesecure system was telling me it had saved my entries but hadn’t actually done a thing. Bottom line: it took over two weeks and countless e-mails to support before this simple operation was accomplished.

Scenarios like this have now been repeated several times over the last several months. It really got crazy when I needed to transfer a domain away from Namesecure. The domain was locked, even though I had made sure it was unlocked then the Admin-C contact suddenly changed so we did not receive the transfer request.

I now recommend Go Daddy for domain name registration because their management tools are top-notch and their support has been very responsive. You can even call a 800 number! They also offer excellent hosting packages.

Here’s my preferred list for web hosting at a glance…

Domain Names: Go Daddy or 1 & 1.com

Ecommerce: Yahoo! Small Business

Server Colocation: TulsaConnect.com

Always Searching

Most of us take simple computer tasks for granted. For instance, like visiting a web site we might read or hear about. You open your favorite web browser and type the ubiquitous dubya-dubya-dubyas in the address bar and hit the enter key. Right? Assuming we typed in the web site’s address correctly it will eventually appear on our screen. Seems pretty straightforward to me.

I found just how wrong I was last week while working on a project that would be promoted through a new sub-directory. The project name would thus be added to our normal domain name. So our usual www.companyname.com would become www.companyname.com/project. There was nothing secret about it, so we decided to publish the test site to the live server (also gives the search engines a chance to find it). Pretty common practice, I thought, so there didn’t seem to be any reason to get alarmed. We send it out to our group of testers and they’ll type it into their address bar and have a look at the project test site. What could be easier?

The next day I found just how wrong I was.

Find and Ye Shall Seek
My boss beeps me and says nobody can “find” the test site. Before I had time to realize who I was talking to I asked, “Whaddya’ mean find it?” Turned out he was just as perplexed as our test group.

After a little digging I found out my boss was typing www.companyname.com/project in to Google. Since the sub-directory was less than a day old it didn’t return any search results. It did provide a simple link to the URL, but he didn’t bother to read that part or click the link. I calmly suggested he enter the web address into the box on the toolbar and see what happened. He was amazed.

I later found out there is a very large percentage of Internet users who “search” for web addresses. If you don’t believe me check your web stats. Look at the referring search terms report for your own domain name. I bet you’ll find some. This is the modern equivelent of dialing the operator to connect you- even though you know the number. Do they even do that anymore?

The lesson I learned from this was to publish new directories for a few days in advance of any public test. That allows the search engines some time to discover the new address, and return some sort of result. Also avoid promotions that use a “pre-domain” in place of the typical WWW. Like project.companyname.com. The problem you’ll run into here is people insist on adding the WWW on the front and it will 404. It’s probably best to stick with the simple www.companyname.com/project instead.