Even as marketers, we need to ensure that our home on the web is handled. It needs to be set up correctly, as well as maintained.
The following two issues are not as much fun as planning the next marketing strategy. They are not as interesting as running a content marketing campaign.
So, what do they have in common? Generally speaking, they are prerequisites. One is the first step, and that is your domain registration. From that step come steps like hosting and building (and maintaining) your site, which is where the next issue can hit us.
The second issue is one that many of us like to avoid and then we come to a place where we hadn’t avoided it. That is, learning what to do on the day when your website acts up on you, or worse yet, faces corruption. At that point, if you haven’t already prepared yourself, you will have wished you had and had implemented a plan ahead of time. So, at the least, we should prepare for a worst case scenario and then hope it never happens.
First Issue: Understanding the Domain Name and Its Registration
Another reason a website can disappear is that the domain registration period runs out and we realize, too late, that the domain expired. Fortunately, if the site worked yesterday, we can probably still salvage it, but it helps if we understand domain registration, in general.
There are marketers who hire an agency to take care of things like domain registration and hosting (and design and marketing) for them.
Hey – great plan. If you have more money than time, it is advantageous to hire an agency to handle it for you. But, as in many facets of your business, it is great to understand what you need to know about domains and their registration. Whether you ever plan to take over that aspect, you should know about domain registration. So, we will practice our comprehension skills by isolating the myths that come our way when it comes to domains. We knock the myths out of the way are you are well on your way toward becoming a domain registration expert, or at the least, having the tools to understand your domain registration.
Myth #1: You Own the Domain and Own it Forever
You do not own the domain, but you may be the registrant.
Many times people say something about owning a domain or buying a domain. Neither statement is true. Granted, it may be just a grammar error, but sometimes people think that they have the ownership. The reality is that when you “obtain” a domain, you have registered the domain (becoming the registrant) and you have it registered for the number of years you selected during the registration process and no more than that. You do not own it, but you have registered with ICANN to indicate that you are using that domain and it is no longer available (during the time you have it registered) for others to register that same domain.
Myth #2: You Have to Register the Domain Where You Set Up Hosting
You do not have to register the domain at the same place as the hosting.
Contrary to what people may say, it is not a requirement that you register your domain at the same place as your web hosting. It is not an unusual practice and may be convenient but you don’t have to do it that way. Instead, you can use different companies for hosting services and your domain registration.
Myth #3: You Have to Buy a .com for Your Business
You do not have to have a .com for your domain. It is nice if you do, but it is not an absolute.
The general thought process is that a .com stands for commercial, as in business and so a .com domain registration is for a business website. Likewise, .org domains are generally for nonprofit organizations and .net was originally thought to be used for networks. None of this is set in stone, but there are some TLDs that have restrictions.
What is a TLD? It is a top-level domain and for purposes of not boring you to death, we will keep it simple to indicate that the .com portion of the domain is the TLD, as is .org, .net, .biz, etc. It is that ending portion of the domain, but again, there is more to it than that, but we are sparing you from the full explanation for now.
While having the .com domain is ideal, if you are able to register your business name, your personal name, your keyword, or whatever you are registering in another TLD, go for it! Granted, this is a personal (or business) decision, so it is up to you if you want to have another TLD or not.
Myth #4: You Can Only Register One Domain
You do not have to limit yourself to one domain registration but are allowed to expand your horizons with more than one.
Expanding on the discussion of what TLD(s) you want to choose, you are not limited to only registering one domain.
Many companies register multiple domain names, and for good reason. For example, Microsoft owns Microsoft.com, Microsoft.net, and Microsoft.org. The company also owns Windows.com and Live.com, just to name a few. Apple similarly registered domains in addition to the company naming, including iTunes.com. You can see why it is smart to register domains with multiple extensions or to register the trademarks and products associated with your brand.
You might want to take it one step further by registering popular misspellings or typos based on your domain. Examples include Aple.com and Applf.com, both of which send you to Apple’s official site. The people in charge at Apple figure that someone typing a word so close to “Apple” probably want to head to the tech giant’s website. This practice also prevents companies from swooping in and doing the same, which would net them the traffic that should be going to your website, or in our example here, Apple’s website.
Myth #5: You Have to Stay With the Domain Registration Service Provider Forever
You do not have to stay with the company/website where you registered your domain(s) forever, but can switch companies as you please.
Although some domain registration service providers try to make it difficult for customers to move away when the customer needs change, you have registered the rights to the domain (for as long as it remains registered). By doing registering those rights, you can transfer it away from the current domain registration service provider (or registrar) at any time, as long as your registration period hasn’t ended yet.
Ok, now that we have the understanding of domain registration under our belt, let’s move to the second issue that can affect our marketing website… problem with the site, or the site that disappears.
Second Issue: The Site That Disappears (Being Prepared Ahead of Time)
You were working on your website and everything was just perfect. And, all of a sudden, it went up in smoke!
You open another browser tab or window to check the site and it wasn’t there! Or, maybe it was there and it looked all mangled! Now what do you do?
Step 1: Don’t Worry
I’m not saying that there isn’t a cause for worry, but worrying isn’t going to get the job done. So, take a deep breath and realize that you are going to fix this step-by-step (or hiring an expert to do it for you).
Step 2: Fix Your Site
Depending on your hosting company, sometimes they make backups for you. If that is the case, either login to your hosting control panel and find those backups or call your hosting company and ask them where you can find the backups of your site.
Sometimes, there is a step-by-step guide on how to restore your backup. Sometimes it is just a quick button and it is done for you (backend scripts). Keep in mind that the backup will override your current website. So, for example, if you wrote a blog post today and the backup was from last night, the restoration is not going to have your new blog post. You may want to grab a quick local copy of that blog post before restoring the backup. That is, if you can get to it.
If your hosting company does not offer backups and you do not have a backup system, then make plans to make plans now. Obviously, you want to fix your site first, but make an appointment with yourself to put a backup system in place as soon as you can. While you are at it, be sure that you have a business continuity plan (BCP) in place, which includes your website.
After you get your website fixed, deciding how you are going to handle backups should be first on your list, among other safety precautions for your WordPress site, that you should take. And, even if you do not have a WordPress site, you still need a backup system in place, as well as other safety precautions. This is not about WordPress, but good maintenance of your site.
In Cases Where There Are No Backups…
Just because you do not have a website backup does not mean that all hope has been lost.
Another method involves accessing your database for your website. This database access is in the context of a WordPress site, even though other sites also use a databases and WordPress is not a requirement, though it is a common selection.
Many times, within the hosting control panel, there is this thing called phpMyAdmin. That is your tool to access your database. See, you have the front end web design of your site, and you have the backend portion, which is that database. That is what holds all of your blog posts, plugin options, site options, etc. in cases of WordPress hosting.
Use phpMyAdmin to make a duplicate copy of your database, first, just to make sure you have a copy of the database (another backup). At any point, if you have difficulty with using phpMyAdmin, either search for it online or call your hosting company and ask them for assistance. Fortunately, phpMyAdmin, even though it looks complicated, is one of the more user-friendly tools out there.
Now, with the original database (after you have backed it up) look for the table that you think caused the initial issue. For example, if your blog posts disappeared, it may be wp_posts. If you don’t know, just go through each of the tables one by one. If there is a problem with the table, you will see an option at the bottom of the table where you can select the tables that need optimizing. You may be at a point of needing a repair but start with optimizing. You will see other options that you can try as well (assuming you have made that backup, first).
In another window or tab, check to see if your site came up properly. It is not unusual to find that the site has been restored at this point.
In addition to the steps above, there are a couple of other things you should try, as well. For example, implementing the Wordfence plugin (even the free version) is an excellent idea. It doesn’t help with the backup aspect, but it does search for malware that could really mess up your site. It also identifies possible hackers so that you can block them from your site. It does take a little bandwidth, but it is worth it.