Here is one of the most valuable tips I can offer – make absolutely sure that you control your domain name!
By control, I mean you should have the domain registered at a domain registrar that YOU pay for, and that YOU have secret login information to.
Do you “own” a domain?
Let me back up a bit. First, you never “own” a domain – they’re always leased – in annual increments. One year or 10 years, you pay a fee to the registrar for rights to that domain. There are many registrars, namecheap.com is my favorite. The registrar will then securely hold the domain for you for the time period specified. The registrar is the one who “points” the domain name at your website using something called domain name servers (DNS). Don’t worry too much about the technical terms as most top-notch registrars can normally handle domain name tasks for free – for the asking.
All you need to do is make sure you have access to your account and you are the one paying for the registration.
A potentially devastating mistake.
One of the most common (and potentially devastating) domain name errors I see is when a business owner has contracted out to a big-name internet marketing company (IMC) to build their business website. Often, if the business is just starting out, the IMC is often a domain registrar as well and registers the business domain name themselves. To the new business owner, this seems like a good thing, reducing complexity and getting their internet presence online fast.
The real problem happens as time passes and the business owner becomes dissatisfied with the website, and decides to have a new website built by another web designer. More often than not, the first IMC will not transfer the domain to the business owner. Sometimes they will sell the rights to that domain name, but most often they will just sit on it – calculating that the business owner will not move their business elsewhere. Because, at this point, the website (and associated domain name) are such an integral part of the business that to give up the associated traffic, sales and branding the business will suffer mightily and may simply fold.
Of course, the above is a worst-case scenario, but I have seen it happen. Luckily (in an odd sort of way) the first IMC did such a poor job that their web presence was virtually worthless, and the business could afford to find another domain name and rebuild their internet presence on a domain name that was controlled by the business owner. Very little business lost and that business rebuilt itself quickly and has no scars from the experience.
Control your own domain!
My advice: do whatever you can to gain control over your business domain name. The hassle and expense of controlling your domain are so small and the benefits are so huge that it’s almost a crime not to. Do I register domains for my clients? Yes I do – there are some folks who just don’t want that responsibility. But I’m an ethical business owner – if my clients want to take their domain name and business elsewhere I will not stand in their way. I will definitely forward the registration to my client.
If you find yourself in a bind because someone else controls your domain name, there may be other options available to you. Or, if you have any domain questions at all – just give me a call at 719-761-4862 or click HERE to contact me.
By Dan Morton