Can I Buy A Domain For A Lifetime?
There are several common misconceptions about the acquisition and retention of domain names. Consumers often struggle to separate fact from fiction, from misunderstandings about how country code TLDs work to speculation about how to buy a domain name forever.
Myth: Lifetime Ownership
One common cause of confusion involves people wanting to know how to buy a domain name forever. In reality, this can’t be done. Domain names are acquired for a limited time, often just for one year. During this period, the owner has exclusive rights to host content in that location. Nobody can legally engage in cybersquatting, or hijack the domain by secretly changing its registration details. Yet despite widespread industry use of the word ‘ownership’, domain acquisition is more like leasing. A domain name isn’t an heirloom to be passed on to your children because websites aren’t intended as lifetime acquisitions.
When a domain period enters its final weeks, the registered owner will be contacted and invited to renew their policy. This is effectively how you can keep hold of a domain name forever: by renewing ownership for the maximum period offered by the company selling it. Timescales vary depending on each domain name seller’s policies, but the process of renewing can be undertaken as many times as required. Simply renew the account, and nobody else will be able to make a higher offer or stake a claim to your corner of online real estate.
Once you know how to hang on to a domain name, you won’t need to worry about losing it at any point. Online content remains unaffected by renewals of domain ownership, and the public won’t have any idea how often or when this process has taken place. More importantly, automatically renewing means the site never goes offline. Even a temporary absence may be detrimental to its performance in search engines, which take a dim view of downtime.
Of course, circumstances change in all sorts of unexpected ways. These are some of the reasons why a domain bought today might not have the same owner ten years from now:
- Companies rebrand, therefore no longer need domain names pertaining to their former brand. After a period of redirecting users to a new address, the old one can be sold on. Any reputation amassed with search engines is quickly lost under new ownership.
- Businesses fail. A fifth of companies don’t make it past the first year, while half of new businesses will have failed within five years of being launched. From insolvency to retirement, there are various reasons why a domain name wouldn’t be needed.
- Websites become superfluous, or simply aren’t needed. A company trading exclusively in the real world might receive negligible traffic in its first years of operation. That could make the cost of hosting and content production hard to justify.
- Someone makes an offer to buy the domain. Short web domains are especially sought after, as they’re easier to remember and type. If you’re sitting on prime online real estate like hithere.com, unsolicited (but tempting) offers might arrive to sell it.