On starting an SEO review of an old customer’s website the other morning, we were somewhat taken aback by the fact that it had been replaced by a page from the domain name registrar stating that the domain name had not been verified. Luckily this appeared to have only started happening the previous evening.

ICANN, the people who control the web domains, set out a new policy of validating the contact details of domain names starting in January 2014. Every domain name, when you register it, is assigned a Billing, Admin and Technical contact details (usually the same). ICANN are sending emails out to check that those details are check – I guess in an attempt to cut ‘dodgy’ websites or email.

Unfortunately in this case the previous developer had registered the domain name in their own name – (so the business we were talking to didn’t even own their own domain – classic rubbish web developer there) and when the ICANN verification email was sent through they just binned it (so a rubbish web developer and a nasty person). 30 days later the domain was taken off line and the first the client knew about it was when I happened to stumble across it.

Luckily we had the account details of where the domain name was registered (in this case 123-reg.co.uk), we logged in, setup the ownership & contact details to those of the client and then requested validation. Unfortunately when they suspended the domain name pending verification they disabled email as well. So the client couldn’t get the verification email to verify the account – kind of a vicious circle. We had to supply our email as the contact details, verify the account, click on the link in the email that WE got, and then set the contact details back to the owner.

THEN we just had to wait up to 48 hours (luckily 4 hours in this case) for the site DNS to get updated – i.e. for the website and email to come back alive.

The key lesson from this sorry tale is CHECK YOUR DOMAIN OWNERSHIP DETAILS. Make sure that the ownership details are correct, and – most importantly – the contact details.

I wonder how long it will be before the Spammers realise this is going on and start bombarding us with ‘your domain name needs verifying’ emails? One email we got from 123-reg.co.uk said ‘this is not a phising email’ – usually the first sign that an email is a phising email!