Happy Birthday google.com!

You may have read the news a couple weeks ago (September 4th) that Google turned 13, but that’s not 100% accurate.

Google.com officially turned fourteen 14 today, September 15, 2011.  The domain name, google.com, was registered by two Stanford computer science grad students on September 15, 1997, almost a year before Google filed for incorporation in California.

What’s in a name? 

When Juliet coined that famous saying, she had no idea what the future held.  Though it didn’t matter to her what Romeo’s real name was, today, a name, especially a company’s domain name, is a great asset.

Whether Google is actually 13 or 14 right now might not make much difference to you, but if the internet giant had not been able to secure google.com when they did, the company would likely never have been named that.  I’m kind of glad it was, otherwise we might still be calling it BackRub  (yea, just doesn’t seem to fit, does it?).

Here are some important things you need to know about domain names:

When you have an idea, you need to protect it – immediately

When Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google’s founders, decided that the name “BackRub” didn’t fit their search engine and they came up with a great new name, they immediately protected it by registering google.com. When they met at Stanford they disagreed about almost everything, but this they agreed on. They did this almost a year before they incorporated as a company or had their first investor.

Once you have the name, you need to secure it – long term

Having your domain name expire means that your website is down, your email stops working, and you and your company look foolish.  I have seen this happen too many times to count, but it seems like the people responsible usually blame the company they registered with.  Whose fault is it that their website is down?

If your domain does expire, there is also the possibility that someone else will buy it before you have a chance to renew. While these days, most companies allow for some kind of grace period, that hasn’t always been the case, and they make no guarantees.

Most people only pay for one year when they buy or renew a domain name.  Each year they have to remember to pay again.  At minimum, you need to put your payment information on file with the registrar, so that when your domain name is up for renewal, it happens automatically.  But the best way to make sure your domain name doesn’t accidentally expire is to pay well in advance. Google has protected it’s domain in this way by paying for it through 2020. In addition to protecting your domain, paying for it in advance is usually less expensive thanks to multi-year discounts.

You should have your domain name monitored by a third party so that if for any reason the domain isn’t pointing to the right place, you will know about it immediately.  A monitoring service will watch your website and your mail server. If anything isn’t working the way it is supposed to, they will notify you immediately and in several ways – text message, Twitter, email, etc.

Ask to have your domain name locked at the registrar.  This provides an additional level of security that makes it more difficult for your name to be stolen.  Without taking this step, someone could steal it with nothing more than your email password.  We go one step further at Got WWW? by privatizing your domain’s contacts, so that any transfer request has to be approved by us.

We manage hundreds of domains for our clients, and while we’re not the least expensive place (in terms of money) to buy a domain, keeping your domain working correctly is invaluable.  Your domain will be protected in the best way possible if you follow our advice.