So you’ve got your online auction house set up with a third party platform provider and you’re ready to begin conducting your first online auctions. What’s next? If brand recognition and exclusivity is a priority for you, your next step should be securing a vanity domain name to link your bidders to your site.
These domain names are also sometimes referred to as URLs or web addresses — they’re what a visitor types to get to your site, and what they’ll continue seeing in the address bar while they’re there. Consumers tend to place more confidence in businesses that appear to be hosted entirely on their own site, as it lends a sense of credibility, professionalism, and seriousness.
Even if you are actually operating your auction business on a bidding platform designed by a third party company (as most auction businesses do), applying a vanity URL to your site can be an important part of establishing your business as a private label entity that is distinct from whoever your platform provider is. It also is a great way of ensuring that your bidders have a definite, easy way of getting to your online auctions.
So how do you separate yourself from the herd? For the first entry in an ongoing Online Auction How To series, we’re going to take a look at how to go about securing one of these names, as well as a few of the different options for doing so.
First, it may be helpful to clarify exactly what we mean when we talk about vanity domain names, as there can be some confusion on this topic. A definite distinction exists between a vanity domain name and actual web hosting. In the situation we are discussing, you would only be purchasing the domain name, while your server itself is run, presumably, by the third party bidding platform that you work with. This is good news for you, since domain names can usually be purchased and utilized for a very low cost (often as little as $1 or $2 per month).
You have no upkeep or servers to worry about on your end. You simply purchase the rights to the name through a domain name provider (covered below), and point it toward your platform provider’s server. Once this arrangement is in place, your bidders can access the site simply by entering your personalized web address, presumably none-the-wiser that the address is simply covering the original one.
So what’s an example of a vanity domain name?
At Sharp Auction Engine, when we deploy a new house for a customer it comes with a web address such as exampleauctions.sae.bid. The ‘sae.bid’ is included as the domain name for every house we make, with the subdomain (‘exampleauctions’) personalized with whatever the customer wants.
However, our Premium Branding Plan and up customers are free to replace this URL (and the SAE specific domain) with their own domain name, should they have one. This could look something like auctions.exampleauctions.com, if they already had some pre-existing site (“exampleauctions.com”), but simply wanted to add a new section for their online auctions. Or, if they didn’t already have some other website and simply wanted their new online auction house to be the entire website, they could just have it redirect to exampleauctions.com.
So let’s take a look at how to go about doing this.
How to install your own vanity domain.
Step 1: Check in with your platform provider.
It’s important to check with your bidding software provider first, because it is possible that they cannot or will not allow you to cover their web address with your own. You would hate to purchase the name only to find out that the whole process is a no-go with your platform.
Since setup will require cooperation with the side that runs your server, there’s unfortunately not much of a workaround for this. Many providers will only allow vanity domain services on certain payment plans, while others may allow it for a one-time setup fee. Check with them to verify before continuing.
Step 2: Choose a hosting service.
There are several options you could go with here, but we will just cover the most well-known. You can’t go wrong with any of these.
Step 3: Choose a name.
Decide on a name. Try to choose something that strongly reflects your brand, but avoids being too lengthy or cluttered. You want people to be able to remember your web address, and something like exampleandsonsestatesalesandauctions.com might get the full idea across, but it also looks like a mess and is a pain in the rear to type. Something like exampleandsons.com or exampleauctions.com would be much better. You can always include the full name in the logo and wording on the web page. Don’t feel limited by a .com either: most domain services let you choose from all kinds of different top-level domain types these days, including things like .bid or .sold or plenty of other things you could come up with. If, for instance, exampleauctions.com was taken, exampleauctions.bid might not be.
Play around with different options and try your choices on all of the different services listed above. The monthly or yearly price might differ between services, and can also change depending on the specific name requested. Once you’ve purchased the rights to the name, you’re ready for the next step.
Step 4: Find your DNS settings page and finalize with your platform.
The exact process for installing your vanity domain will differ between platform providers, but the general process is the same. At SAE, our process works like this:
- Send us an SSL request through your SAE house.
- Locate your DNS settings through your domain name host.
- Direct the “A Records” found on the DNS settings page to our server.
- Contact us to let us finish the process.
Other platform providers may have slightly different processes, but their customer support teams should be able to walk you through it. Once you’ve done this, your bidding platform should have a shiny, totally personalized, private label web address, making your business look that much more distinct.
Get your auctions online today. Sharp Auction Engine offers a free 30-day trial.
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