Know The Truth About “Domain Name Search Engine Registration”

Sleazy Domain Registration Service Email
Sleazy Domain Registration Service Email

There is a special circle of hell reserved for people who send emails like the one reproduced at right. These are the scary-looking “NOTICES” that take advantage of a business person’s unfamiliarity with the technical terms of the Internet.  The messages try to get an unsuspecting website owner to buy a horribly overpriced, maybe worthless, service.

This particular email was sent to me on January 17th asking me to reply by January 18th.  The sender is creating a false sense of urgency to get me to act before I figured out what I was doing.

The formatted electronic letter says it’s a “Domain Service Notice”.   It looks like the senders are trying to trick you into thinking that you need to renew your site’s domain name registration.  Domain name registration is a real service. Domain name registration is what records you as the owner of your www.ozdachs.biz and tells everyone on the Internet where to go to see the site.  Domain name registration for .com domains currently costs under $20/year from reputable registrars.

This message is not selling domain name registration.  They are offering “Domain name search engine registration.”  I don’t know what that is.

I suspect that it is a made up product with no commerical value for your website.

You don’t have to register your domain with places like Google or Bing.  Those search engines find and read all of the pages of your site and put you in search results for free.  You can submit your site to Google, but that really isn’t necessary.  Google will find your site through in-coming links from other sites it knows about.  (You have to make sure that your site gets pointed to, but that isn’t difficult.  Writing a public post on Facebook or in a blog like this is enough!)

At most, you might submit a new website to the major search engines to try to kick-start its visibility.  Most experts don’t think you need to do this, but the search engines generally let you tell them about your site.  For free.

In any case, I cannot think of a reason why you would need to submit your site more than one time, when it is new.  Google and the other search engines regularly revisit the sites they’ve found to process and reindex the new content that’s published.

This come-on letter offers you a one-year “registration” for $75.  The senders say their “best value” is a lifetime service for $499.  I have no idea what you get for multiple years of the service.

Unfortunately some people will fall for this urgent-sounding pitch. Its wording is carefully legal: it says straight out that it’s not an invoice and you are under no obligation to pay. But, the message is skillfully formatted and it looks so official!

Luckily this sleazy message came directly to me because I am listed on the real, official domain registration for a client.  My client didn’t have to panic, and he didn’t waste his money. I know what to do with offers like this: trash them!

If you have any questions about you get in your email or USPS box, talk to me or your webmaster.  Don’t pay for a service you don’t understand!

5 Questions

When I first meet with a prospective client it’s important for me to know about their vision for their site.

Although most people start off saying that they’ll leave everything to the designer (“just do it”), I have learned better.  Business owners may want to leave all the technical details to their designer, but most people have an idea about some aspects of their future site.

Business woman looking at a web pageI am about to call a prospective customer, so I wrote down what I want to ask her before I can tell her cost estimates and a time schedule.  Here are some of the questions I have that will help her share her web site vision with me. (I’d be happy to hear of ones you think I should add!)

  1. Are there sites you would like yours to look like?
    These examples can be competitors or sites for businesses in different fields. Please send me links to those sites so I can look at them. Then we can talk about what aspects of those sites you like. Is it the color? Layout? Navigation?
  2. How important is search engine optimization (where your site will show up in Google)?
    Creating a site that shows up high on Google for specific phrases requires planning and it also places some design constraints on the pages.  These limitations are reasonable.  However, we will keep bumping up against them and I need to know if you care if people find your site in Google and in other search engines.(Search Engine Optimization, that is getting your site high on Google’s results, involves more than designing a web page.  Obtaining incoming links, regularly refreshing content, and other marketing techniques build upon a well-design web site.  But, designing pages to appeal to Google is the first, most basic, and most important step to take.)
  3. Do you have a list of pages you want on your site and a structure for the site navigation?
    Some people only know that they want a web site for their business.  Others know exactly what they want on their site, how many pages there should be, and what the navigation path through the site should be.Please let me know what you’ve already decided on the scope of your site.
  4. Do you want to be able to updates to your site yourself?
    I currently use Dreamweaver to design and maintain most client sites.  There’s a sister product of Dreamweaver called Contribute which allows non-technical people to update pages, add pages, change and add images, and to make other changes to sites created in Dreamweaver.In general, clients with Dreamweaver-created sites can purchase Contribute from Adobe and start doing their own updates with little web designer involvement.  There is some minor preparation I need to do to make the site Contribute-friendly, and it is good for me to know that Contribute is coming as soon as possible.
  5. Have you already purchased a domain name and hosting service?
    If so, I will need the user name and password for these accounts… For some of my clients obtaining these credentials from past web designers or from their own records has taken weeks of effort.So, if you already have hosting and domain name registrations services, check your records to make sure you can get to the services’ control panels.

Renew Your Domain and Pay Too Much

Yesterday a client forwarded an email to me that said his domain name registration was expiring. All he had to do was to click on a link and he’d be taken to a screen where he could renew the name for another year.
ISP Renewal web page
The renewal email is a scam, although possibly not illegal.

What was wrong with this reminder notice and renewal offer?

  • My client’s domain name (www.mycompany.com) is NOT registered with the sender of the email. He uses our recommended registrar, Webmasters.com.
  • The sender of the email notice, ISP Renewal Domain Name Services, prices the one-year renewal at $79.95. We pay $9.95 at Webmasters.com.
  • The renewal web page (at right) displays the logos of well-known companies, presumably to lend credibility to the web page. The companies whose logos are display, Oracle, Cisco Systems, IBM, and Microsoft have nothing to do with the renewal of my client’s domain registration. (I wonder if these companies know that their logos are displayed on the renewal page.)
  • The “from” address of the email is [email protected] The ending “.org” makes it look like the sender is a not-for-profit organization. However, no one has to prove that they are a non-profit to have a .org address. For-profit companies are free to register .org addresses to trick people into thinking that they are a do-gooder organization instead of a profit-making company. This practice isn’t illegal, but it rings my warning bells.

The fine print in the renewal letter does confess that:

If you wish to assign (emphasis added) ISPRenewal to extend your domain, please click on the link above. If you do not not wish renew your domain, you may disregard this e-mail. Note! No changes will be made in the WHOIS information if you choose to your domain with us. You will still have your current Domain Service Provider (sic) . You may also request your resent (sic) Domain Service Provider to extend your domain.

In other words, this company has no relationship with you. But, they want you to pay them to pay your current domain registrar to renew. The fee for this renewal is only 8 times what you would pay yourself.

Although their boilerplate renewal email includes a typo and admits to the worthlessness of the service, I am sure that some businesses fall for this scam. My client almost fell for it!

The truth is that many web site owners don’t know what “domain registration” is. They’re confused by hosting services, domain name registration, and all that “tech stuff”. The email’s conflating of hosting services and domain name registration into “Domain Service Provider” encourages this confusion. So, many owners will simply pay whatever “bill” that comes in to keep their web site up.

This scheme is similar to the phony invoice-looking mailings that businesses receive all the time. You know, the come-ons disguised as bills which the sleazy sender hopes will trick some business owner into paying for something that they haven’t ordered.

Sigh!

Another sleazoid is loose in the market place. All I can do is recommend that if you get an offer from ISP Renewal, trash it. It’s misleading and designed to trick you into doing business with them. And, based on their domain registration renewal ethics, I don’t think you want to do any business with them.