Okay—let’s say you have a .CA domain name kicking around, gathering digital dust. We don’t judge!
The question is: do you renew your domain name? Sure, the whole CIRA gang understands that nobody “enjoys” paying for something they might never use…like that trampoline Zumba class membership.
But when it comes to renewing (or not renewing) your domain name, there are a few key things you should consider.
Why it's important to renew your domain name
Reason to renew #1: protect your unique name and brand
The thing about domain names is that they are, for the most part, totally unique to you and/or your business.
With that in mind, renewing your domain name is an easy and inexpensive way to protect your name and brand. Think of it like a trademark or copyright. If, somewhere down the line, you decide to build an epic website, then having a domain will serve you well—and you’ll thank your past self!
If you don’t renew your domain name and let it expire, it’ll eventually be put back on the market. That means anyone—including your competitors, or any arch nemeses you’ve made—could purchase and claim your domain name.
Here’s the kicker: your competition wouldn’t even necessarily have to use your domain…nope—they could simply hold onto your domain name for years to come so that it can’t be claimed by anyone else. Ouch.
Reason to renew #2: keep your website running smoothly
Let’s change gears slightly. Say you’ve been using your domain name with an active e-commerce website…and you let the renewal lapse.
Having a non-functioning website for even a short period of time (while you scramble to get your domain renewed) could potentially lead to lost transactions and make your business appear less than legitimate to customers.
More importantly, you’re needlessly risking all the hard work and equity you’ve built up through your website. Think of your domain as an essential part of your brand identity. Losing that identity (i.e., to another buyer) can quickly knock you back several pegs.
Reason to renew #3: preserve your hard-earned search rankings
Letting your domain name expire can also put a big dent into your SEO (search engine optimization) score. If your site stops working, you run the major risk of losing your position on search engine results pages (SERPs) in the span of a few hours.
Google’s web crawlers can’t tell whether a site is completely dead, or just experiencing temporary downtime. So, if they happen to index your website while it’s out of commission, it’ll assume that your content no longer exists and therefore shouldn’t be listed.
Look—building an effective SEO strategy, and optimizing your content and website, takes time and energy. Damaging all that because of a domain renewal-related snafu is a darn shame.
So, what really happens if you let your domain expire?
Okay—so what’s the worst that could happen if you don’t renew your domain name when the time comes? The good news is that your domain (and website) doesn’t usually vanish into the land of wind and ghosts when the clock strikes midnight…but you are on the clock.
Auto-renew grace period
Once the expiry date hits, CIRA will automatically renew your .CA domain for one year and charge your registrar. You’ll still need to renew the domain (and pay the renewal fee) with your registrar if you want to keep it.
This is what’s known as the “auto-renew grace period,” and it can be anywhere from one to 45 days in length. That, of course, all depends on your registrar’s own policies. During this auto-renew grace period, your domain name and any associated websites or email addresses might stop working.
Last chance at redemption
So now, you’ve let the grace period pass. What’s next? Well now we’ve entered—dun, dun dunnnn—the 30-day “redemption” grace period. At this point, your domain is no longer functional—nor is your website or email address. This is your last opportunity to have your registrar restore and renew your domain.
Released back into the wild
Once the final redemption grace period passes, your domain name is put on the “To-Be-Released” list for up to one week and then made publicly available to register shortly after. It’s kind of like the domain name circle of life.
Tips for a stress-free domain renewal
What you may not realize is that you can register a .CA domain name from one to ten years at a time. If you feel that you’re in it for the long haul, why not renew for a longer period?
We’d also recommend that you either jot down your domain name’s expiry date or sign up for auto-renewal (depending on your domain registrar) to dramatically reduce your chance of forgetting.
Some registrars will even send out renewal reminder notices a few weeks before your domain expires!
And remember—if you haven’t done anything with your domain yet, that doesn’t mean it’s never going to happen! Sometimes, you just need a little time for the perfect plan to come together.
Fortunately, we’ve got a few suggestions on getting the most out of your .CA domain along with .CA business success stories to get you inspired.