What to do when you lose your personal domain
Late last year I went to make some updates to my personal website, and got the shock of my life. My simple, modest website had been replaced with something that looked like a Microsoft Frontpage template. At first I thought I'd been hacked, but then my worst fear was confirmed — I had failed to renew my domain, and someone else had swooped.
How did I forget to renew it? I simply didn't realize it needed renewing. As far as I can tell, I received no reminders through the registrar, so it just never occurred to me. I definitely take the blame, but it was hard mistake to stomach that the domain I had owned and used for the last 15 years was gone. Not gone, but it simply wasn't mine any longer. It was now in the hands of an imposter — a new, slightly better looking "Nick Rigby" from Australia. Or at least that's what I thought...
Who is Nick Rigby?
Browsing through the site, I quickly realised that my new alter ego seemed a little skeptical. For a start, his about page shows that he's either too shy to post his own picture, or he's making cash on the side as a stock photography model. Secondly, the content has spam written all over it. Cha-ching! This thing is a search engine play!
Over the years I've gained some decent link backs, so the domain itself had a decent amount of SEO juice. If you take on a domain thats been around for 15 years, you get all of that juice... for free. I get it, it's clever, but it's infuriating as hell for me. If you search for my name today in Google, my new friend is the number one result.
So what if people think this guy is me? That logo man. I'm not a designer, but I'm not putting my name to that — it looks like something "Clippy" from Microsoft word would come up with. All of those hundreds of links from forums, blog posts, online magazines etc. now going straight to this guy. They'll think I made that logo. I'll never be taken seriously again.
What would you do?
My first step was to remove any links I had control over — Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Plus. Next, I purchased myself a shiny new domain, and got a new site up and running (if you're wondering, this is it!). Lastly, I contacted some of the more popular sites that are linking to me to request a change to my new domain.
What would you do? Who is the real Nick Rigby?