This will be the most important page you ever read on the Internet about protecting the ownership of your website. Let’s get started.
Quick Terminology You Need to Know
Every website on the Internet is what is simply known as a domain name. Your domain name is usually your brand or something similar, and a .com at the end of it. For example, www.godaddy.com is Go Daddy’s website. Our website is www.riverfrontmediagroup.com. This is all you need to know, is that you have a domain name where your website is stored.
With every domain name, there are 4 contacts associated with it.
1. Domain Registrant
2. Domain Administrator
3. Domain Technical
4. Domain Billing
Why You MUST Understand the above 4 Contacts
If your business website is important to you, this is a huge warning signal I am sounding for you. We recently acquired 10+ new customers from the Columbus, Ohio area after a very unfortunate situation happened to them all.
Overnight, their websites went offline, and they had no idea what happened. When we were contacted by an organization attempting to help them all, we discovered the domain registrant was their former website designer.
What actually happened was their former web developer went out of business, and no longer paid for their Rackspace web hosting, so Rackspace shut down their hosting account after non payment, and all of their client’s websites went offline overnight.
None of the clients had any idea this was happening, and created a difficult situation.
IT GETS MUCH WORSE
So all of these customers then started to scramble to find out an alternative website development company to recreate their websites and get them back online. Unfortunately for most of these companies, their nightmare was only beginning.
Remember the 4 Domain Name Contacts associated with every domain? The domain registrant is by far the most important of them all. This is the legal owner of the domain name. So, if your business is John Doe Plumbing, Inc, and you owned johndoeplumbing.com, but your website design company registered the domain name, and made themselves the registrant, then you have no ownership of your domain name.
That is the cold, hard reality these companies faced. Without their old website development company handing over the keys to the domain names, companies like Go Daddy, Name Cheap, Network Solutions, Enom, and any Domain Registration company will not allow a transfer of the domain name without court action.
What this meant was at least 90 days of court filings and proceedings for these companies to legally become the owners of their domains. So with this in mind, Riverfront Media Group negotiated a buyout of the domains on their behalf from the former web developer and got ownership of these domain names.
What Every Business Owner Should Check Today! – AND HOW TO DO IT NOW!
The domain name registrant contact is something you should immediately check. Go to https://whois.icann.org/en and type in your domain name and then you probably will need to answer the captcha question they use to prevent spam, and then you will be able to see who actually owns your domain name.
OK, so I am going to assume you just checked to find out who the Registrant is for your domain. Make sure it is your domain name, and then also an email address, preferably not an email address that is associated with your domain. What I mean by that is, I would recommend using a free Gmail account or something you check every week, hotmail, yahoo, etc.
If you use an email address like firstname.lastname@example.org as the contacts, then if there is any issue with the domain name, you won’t even be able to receive emails to it. For this reason, I recommend getting a Gmail account that you have a strong password for.
It is also strongly recommended you make yourself the billing contact as well. If not, then when your web design company receives the notification about your domain name expiring and doesn’t forward that notification to you, then your domain name will expire and your website will go offline.
So why it is super important to always maintain control over your domain name? It’s really simple, no matter how great your website design, or SEO, or whatever company who is handling everything for you is, there is always a chance they will go out of business, let something slip through the cracks, or just disappear or a number of bad things that could bring down your website.
We plan to be around for decades to come in the internet marketing and web development business, but we would never want to jeopardize the biggest digital asset your company has, your website, by foolishly being the registrant contact and therefore the legal owner of your website.
Website domain registrations should always be transferred at no cost to you, the owner of the company, when working with a website development company. If for some reason they have ownership of it, there is a simple and quick process to transfer it to your email address and therefore under your control.
Hopefully this has been helpful for small businesses looking to protect their online digital assets, and specifically their website. If you are a company out there who does not own its website, then contact whoever is listed as the owner.
A lot of times big digital ad agencies, or digital marketing companies register websites on your behalf, but make themselves the owner. This should always be addressed before you signup for their services. What if their contract doesn’t mention domain ownership?
In this case, you have no recourse to get the domain name after the contract is over. Once you realize you got no return on investment with their cookie cutter one size fits all marketing campaign, you can’t even get control of the domain name unless they decide to give it to you.
So matter who you have do your website or marketing, always insist on maintaining ownership over your domain name. The future of your business depends on it, and regardless of what BS any marketing company feeds you, there is no reason at all for them to have control over the domain name registration.