You may not have entered the floral industry to be a tech wizard, but, there are a few crucial basics you should keep in mind as a business owner to keep your online shop healthy and prosperous. Below are key terms and to-dos that you should know and stay on top of. Even if you have an employee or service who takes care of most of your technical needs, this is stuff you need to pay attention to.
What are domain names and URLs?
A domain name is essentially the easy-to-remember nickname for the specific IP address that hosts your website. (Go here for a slightly more technical explanation). It is a part of a complete website address, or URL, which includes several distinct elements, as seen below. Your domain name is an incredibly important part of your business and brand. Not only does it represent your online shop address and name which allow your customers to find and identify you, it also contains a significant amount of your SEO strength and business value.
A URL has more information, including the domain name, specific page addresses, folder names, and more. These can often help you navigate the site you are on. For instance, https://www.bloomnation.com/resourcecenter/florist-handbook/for-premium-partners/website-management/seo/is the URL for the SEO page on the Resource Center. It tells you that you can get there by going to the Florist Handbook, then to the Premium Partners section, which holds the SEO page.
What are domain registrars and web hosting services?
A domain name registrar is an organization or company that sells access rights to specific domain names, such as Network Solutions or GoDaddy.com. To make changes or purchase rights to a new domain name, you (the registrant) must go through your registrar. A web hosting service provides the physical server space where your website files live or are “hosted” (in more technical terms, this location is known as the IP address). If you have a site powered by BloomNation, BloomNation is your web host.
Why is it so important to maintain independent control of my domain name?
Think of a web hosting service like your online landlord; they provide the space where your business lives, just like a brick and mortar storefront. Some web hosts, especially in the floral world, require you to hand over domain ownership rights to them as a part of their hosting service. This puts the most important part of your brand and intellectual property, your company name and online address, under someone else’s control. They can, and sometimes do, hold that name hostage if they go out of business or you decide you want to switch services.
That’s like saying your landlord wouldn’t allow you to keep your business name if you try to relocate to a new store around the corner.
In other cases, you may have a business representative or contractor (like a web developer) purchase your domain name on your behalf without giving you the contact or maintenance information, which also puts you at risk if they leave your company, go out of business or are otherwise unreachable. That’s why at BloomNation, we always insist that you maintain personal control over your domain name.
This also means that YOU are in charge of registering, and maintaining, your domain name, not BloomNation.
How do I register my domain name or find out who my current registrar is?
If you have never had a website and need to register a new domain name use this quick guide to find the registrar and pick a name that works for you. To find out who the registrar for your current website is, go to https://whois.icann.org/en, and type in your domain name. Look under the “Registrar” section.
n this example, Media Elite Holdings Limited is the registrar for the National Geographic Society's domain name. If they want to make changes to or have questions about their domain name, they will have to contact Media Elite Holdings Limited.
How do I maintain control of my domain name?
It is INCREDIBLY important to actively maintain the rights to your domain name. When you register your domain name, you are only paying for the rights to that name, not purchasing it outright, which means that your rights will expire and become available for others to purchase. You can use https://whois.icann.org/en again to see when your name is due to expire (as seen in the “Important Dates” section in the example above).
When you register your domain name, your registrar will likely give you the option to renew every 1, 2, or 5 years or set your account up to auto-renew. No matter which option you choose, make sure you flag any and all emails coming from your domain name registrar and give your registrar an email address that you check often and aren’t likely to stop using. If you decide to auto-renew, make sure to update your account when you get a new credit card.
If your domain name expires, you should have a grace period to renew that can range from a few days to a few months, and then a redemption period that may last up to thirty days, however, many registrar companies charge heavy fees for reregistering during either period. If you miss the both of these periods your domain name will be locked for several days before being made available publicly for purchase. At that time, your website will essentially be inaccessible by you or your customers. After being unlocked, you should be able to register your domain name again as if you were starting new, as long as no one else has purchased it already. The main takeaway here: you want to avoid letting your domain name expire at all costs.