10 Things You Might Consider When Choosing a Domain Registrar

If the GoDaddy SOPA debacle has done anything, it’s gotten many domain owners to think about who they have their domains with. Many GoDaddy customers chose to boycott the company, transferring their domains out, with some asking others for recommendations.

According to ICANN’s accredited registrars list, there are exactly 1,000 ICANN-accredited registrars. Note that ICANN only handles accreditation for most of the global TLDs. For country-code extensions, the registry of the extension accredits registrars to offer their extension. Additionally, many registrars have resellers, so ultimately there may be several thousand if not tens of thousands of sites where people can register domains.

What are some things you might consider when choosing which registrar you’ll use?

1. Trust and security

Especially after the notorious RegisterFly collapse of the past, trust is a big issue for many. With any site you intend to use a credit card on, you want the comfort of knowing your financial information is safe and secure. Likewise, you want to make sure your domain assets are safe as well, especially valuable domains that may be the target of theft.

Additional issues can happen at registrars – for instance, private registration has sometimes been turned off or nameservers unilaterally changed by the registrar. You want to make sure you use a registrar that doesn’t do any harm to your domains.

2. Customer support

For some online services, support may not always be a big concern (usually if a good service is offered, you shouldn’t need support). It’s very important for your registrar to have solid support however. If you’re running websites on your domains, if something goes wrong, you want a registrar that will act quickly to resolve the issue. If you buy domains to resell, if something goes wrong during the transfer, you want quick answers and resolution.

3. Cost

While the annual registration cost of a single domain doesn’t vary much across most registrars, it can add up both over time and over a larger amount of domains. Additionally, you may buy other services like private registration and stronger security for your domains. You might choose a lower-cost registrar to use the savings towards other business expenses like marketing and better hosting.

Note: While with coupons, GoDaddy is generally among the cheapest registrars, it can be tough to find the best coupons to use or know what to use for particular purchases. Some domain owners find this not worth the effort and choose a registrar that is not as focused on coupon discounts.

4. Free Extras

Part of GoDaddy’s marketing success over the years was promoting their inclusion of many free extra services with each domain. Extras might include free hosting, free access to a website maker for the domain, free email, free URL forwarding and so on. In fact, some registrars even offer free private registration which can lure in customers.

5. Ease of domain management

Often this doesn’t matter much if you only have a couple domains, but as you get into the dozens or hundreds of domains, easier domain management becomes much more important. Features might be ease of going from domain to domain for changes, ability to make bulk changes, seeing important information for a domain at a glance and so on.

6. Ease of buying domains

Another gripe people have particularly had with GoDaddy is the registration process. It can be tedious to navigate through and if you’re not careful, you can end up with additional products in your shopping cart. For domain resellers, the time factor can be crucial as well – being able to register something lightning quick either after it has expired or when particular news comes out that boosts a particular term.

7. Advanced DNS configuration

With more advanced DNS setups like having separately hosted website and email, it may be important for you to have advanced DNS configuration at your registrar. Some registrars only offer the basic ability to point your nameservers vs. allowing adding of A, CNAME and MX records. In that case, if you needed custom records, you’d need to use an outside DNS service, which can be one more link in the chain than you want.

8. Ability to set up administrative access

Especially in larger companies, the ownership of the domains and the administrator of them would be different. Giving an administrator full access to the account can put the domains at risk. Being able to grand limited access to an administrator would remove the need for that risk. Some registrars don’t allow that however, leaving some businesses to put a huge amount of trust in their administrators.

9. Offering additional services like website hosting, email hosting, SSL and more

Some domain owners feel these services should be kept separate to avoid having “all their eggs in one basket”. That said, having to worry about renewing services at multiple companies can make operations harder to manage.

The convenience of having all of these services in one place draws many towards registrars that offer them (and many of them now do). In fact, GoDaddy’s dominance in domain registrations and their additional offering of website hosting has helped them become the largest host of websites online as well.

10. Being able to identify with the company

As we’ve witnessed in the past few days, sometimes it’s about more than simply the service being offered. The controversial Stop Online Piracy Act has been widely opposed throughout the internet world, and GoDaddy’s support of it resulted in an organized boycott spread virally through social media.

Even after they’ve since announced no longer supporting SOPA, many are still going through with transferring their domains. Some of the other registrars have taken the opportunity to publicly oppose SOPA and gain the confidence of many new customers.

It’s important to note two factors that thread through all of these criteria: marketing and reviews/recommendations.

GoDaddy’s marketing blitz led by their Super Bowl commercials put them in the limelight and helped them become only domain registrar many people were even aware of. In other words, many GoDaddy customers may not have specifically chosen GoDaddy over other registrars. GoDaddy effectively bridged the gap between the domain industry and the mainstream world.

Additionally, registrars like any other company are affected by what others say about them. The GoDaddy boycott ultimately brought mass negativity not only about SOPA but about other qualms GoDaddy customers have had about their service into the spotlight. Likewise, many of those looking for alternatives chose one based on the recommendations of others.

There’s no agreed-upon choice of registrar – they all have their pros and cons. It’s ultimately up to you to decide which of the above factors matter most to you and which registrar fits the bill for your domains.


One Comment on “10 Things You Might Consider When Choosing a Domain Registrar”

  1. Sharon Hayes says:

    Reblogged this on Sharon Hayes Dot Com.

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