One of the challenges of digital strategy is that you are – in most instances – wedded to a history of previous technology decisions. So while you may come in to an organisation to overhaul the strategy, you might find yourself constrained by some bad search engine optimisation, platform and publishing choices or hosting restrictions.

Generally these kind of problems can be undone with time. With money. With resources.

But there is one particular challenge that can be terribly difficult to unlock. And it happens at the very beginning of your digital journey – with your domain name registration.

Domain names are like your business name on the internet. They tell everyone where to find us. We all know that to order a book online, we visit Amazon.com. To search, we visit Google.com or Bing.com. These are domain names.

To get one of these domain names, we need to register that name with a Domain Name Registrar. These are companies that are authorised to sell and manage domain names. Popular registrars include GoDaddy.com, NetRegistry.com.au in Australia – and many others.

But registering your domain name is like registering your business name. You may register with the relevant authorities, but you don’t setup your business in the same office. You do so elsewhere.

And you should do the same with your domain name and your online business.

When you register your domain name, you will usually be offered hosting. That means that you will be provided space online to upload your website. While this may be convenient – and perhaps even cheap (or free) – I tend to avoid this situation.

Like any business, domain name registrars go through ups and downs. And should the registrar’s business fail, it can take your registration details with it.

If you have your website hosted with the registrar, you can lose both the website and the domain name.

I had a client recently who purchased a small business package with one of the country’s largest and most reputable brands. This included domain name AND hosting AND email and more. It sounded like a no-brainer and the package was purchased.

A couple of years down the track this package was discontinued. As it turned out, the domain names were registered through a European registrar (not locally as we expected), and the email, domain name registration and hosting were all outsourced and rebranded locally.

My client had expected that the emails that were being sent were just marketing spam, so ignored them until the website was offline. What followed was literally months of follow-up, documentation and phone calls until the domain name could be transferred.

Even the largest and most powerful brands can change their strategy mid-stream. So even if you are registering your domain name with a brand you know and trust, my advice is to host your website elsewhere. At least if something changes you won’t lose both the name and the business/technology.