It’s your domain, but do you control all the parts?

This past week I’ve been helping a client with whom I haven’t worked for several years. We were doing some clean-up of the functions on their site and there were issues with their web forms being marked as spam, not being delivered, and more communication stoppers. What I found out is that their domain had changed owners, the record had been modified to not include ANY MX (mail) records. This means that there is no proper way to process the mail from the site. ISPS, hosting services, and others will not trust this website sending anything out. The email in the admin listed was info@theirdomain.com but without an MX record, the mail was going nowhere.

Next part of this issue is that the domain was given from the original owner to a new volunteer board member. There is no record of this login, this person is no longer a board member and we are having great difficulty gaining access to the domain through namecheap.com – yes, that’s who the domain is managed through.  No phone support answering, especially without an account number. Chat tried to help, but the options are limited since we have no email, no login, and all I know is who the former/original owner of the domain was years ago. This is a problem.

It serves as a reminder from me to you. If you buy a domain for your business, make sure there are backup emails and phones in case you get hit by a bus, leave the company, or sell it. Keep these records in a central location where you can share that info with key staff, new owners, your spouse. Someone other than just you!

There are tons of articles explaining domains, the moving parts, and elements, including MX records. In a nutshell here’s how it work. You buy a domain from a domain services company such as GoDaddy, or others. That domain has pieces that tell people where your website is hosted so they can open it when they type in your domain. Those are the host records. You’d have another for the www so they go to the same site. You may have other spinoff sites such as shop.yourdomain.com, blog.yourdomain.com, listings.yourdomain.com. These can all point to different places to find those spinoff sites. What I’m trying to convey is that the one domain you buy may have parts in many places in order to serve up your website most efficiently.

Now, back up a bit, you can also change your NAME SERVERS. This is in the domain registrar and they can point to a CDN (content delivery network) services such as my favorite, Cloudflare. THEN all the domain records sit there and you can quickly add, edit, delete.  Super simple.

Then you have MAIL – the MX records. This ties your domain to a particular email service provider, such as Google Suite for Businesses, or whatever mail you like. There may be as many as 6 mail records to help reroute in case “the internet breaks” as it can from time to time, at least regionally.

Then you have these special records that tell ISPs (Internet Service Providers) that your domain is authorized to send email from your mail account AND through your website, email marketing service, and more. These are SPF records. You can search for that too. But you need all these parts at minimum for people to not only open your website but to receive emails from you and your marketing efforts.

The most important part is to make sure you have ownership of your own domains – all the parts associated with your online presence. Do not let others register on your behalf and simply give you the login. They ultimately control it or will let it fall by the wayside. Take control of your online presence starting with the domain and mail.

Here’s my favorite recipe currently for all the parts you need to have control over for your domain – domain, CDN, host, mail:

  • Register/purchase the domain from Godaaddy, or a reputable reseller.
  • Use the name servers (free) at Cloudflare for speed and better uptime.
  • Host with Rocket.net for screaming fast hosting, personal service attention, fast, and VERY knowledgeable team members.
  • Mail with Google, authenticated through their process. When you pay for a business suite account or mail account, you have the ability to contact Google support via CHAT and PHONE! That’s worth it right there. They are terrific.