Business Series: Your Business’s Online Identity
Part 1 – Who Owns Your Domain
This is the first in a series of blog posts that will discuss important topics for businesses to make sure that they have control over their business’s online identity. The first topic: Who Owns Your Domain, is the most important step in your business’s online identity.
What’s in a Name
You may have easily chosen your domain name based on your business name or if that wasn’t available, it may have taken a bit more time to make the decision. Either way, once you know what the domain is, YOU are the one that should be listed as the registrant. If you are not the registrant, but still pay the bill for the yearly domain, you DO NOT OWN it!
You may be able to check on ICANN WHOIS to determine who the registrant is, but nowadays, it’s often hidden due to Privacy settings. If it’s hidden you will be able to tell where the domain was purchased and should contact them to determine if you are actually the registrant on record.
The easiest way is to make sure you have your login information and you can see if you are listed as the registrant. Again, simply because you can log in to the domain does not mean you own it.
Reason to RUN from a Web Designer/Developer
Remember that simply because you pay the bill for the domain registration, does NOT mean you own it. If you have a proposal from someone that wants to build your website and they either require that they sign up to be your registrant or that you turn it over to them if you already have the domain, RUN! Do Not Walk, RUN!
This is the first sign of a shady business that you don’t want to get entangled with. Some designers may go ahead and purchase some websites they believe would be good for your business prior to your final agreement in order to secure them so no one else grabs them. That’s ok, ONLY if you have the written agreement that they are to sign it over to you and that you follow up and make sure it is done at the beginning before they start work on your site.
A reputable website designer won’t have an issue with this.
But WHY do I Need to OWN my Domain?
You may be wondering why it really matters, as long as the bill is paid and your website is up and working. This is the reason that many don’t know they have a problem until something goes wrong. When it’s good, it’s all good, but when things go bad, you can spend a lot of time and money trying to resolve the problem.
Let’s say your website designer or host goes MIA. What then? It could be hard to gain control over your site if you don’t own your domain. What happens if you get into a dispute with your designer or host? They can hold your website hostage or worse yet, point it to a COMPETITOR!
What’s This Pointing Business?
I own quite a few domains, too many actually. Most of them I simply point or forward to this primary site, MuttButs.com. For instance, I have a product called Google My Business Optimizer. I bought the domain GMBOptimizer.com. I didn’t create a whole new site, I simply have it pointed at my page that talks about that product. You can click it above and see that it actually takes you to a MuttButs.com address.
This is very easy to do and normally free. What happens if the person that owns your domain gets upset with you? Where might they point your domain? Best to simply NOT find out the answer.
Web Domain ≠ Web Host and a Tiny House Will Explain It!
One of the confusions for some is the difference in their domain name and their web host. The difference is big and easily explained by thinking about it like a Tiny House on Wheels! Yes, I just had to mention tiny houses!
Consider that your Domain is the address that you are going to park your tiny house. It’s simply the address to a vacant lot. Nothing is there until you move your tiny house onto the lot.
Your Tiny House on Wheels is your Host. It allows you to place your website on the domain. Without a Host, you have a blank canvas or empty lot. Once your web designer creates your site they can place it on the web domain, like a tiny house being placed on a lot!
The Host is the tiny house framework and the details are what your web designer does to make your site look nice and function properly.
If you have a host and no domain, you have a website that can’t be found anywhere by Google or anyone else. It’s a tiny house traveling around without an address. You know it’s been created, but you can’t find it anywhere!
I’ll just get another…..
Your website is listed on so many things, business cards, maybe your car, and especially Google. You can’t simply change it and get a new one. It doesn’t work that way.
Not only will you have to tell everyone that it’s changed and hope they notice, you also have to consider Google and the other search engines. The last thing you want to do is confuse Google. If Google is confused by your information, it simply doesn’t show you in the search results or you are so far down, no one sees you!
Changing your website domain is major and not something to be done lightly, if ever.
Just OWN it!
Hopefully, you now understand just how important it is to own your domain and have confirmed that you do. After all, you have spent time, money and lots of sweat equity building your business, you should CONTROL it!
It can be easy to decide that it’s all too confusing and simply let someone else handle it all for you, but it takes 2 minutes and costs $7 to buy a domain, so there’s really no excuse to let someone else be in control of your business’s ownership. If you’re not sure if you own it, take a few minutes and find out now who owns your domain. It might save you a lot of grief down the road.
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