I’ve seen this many times over my 25 years of being online. As a web guy myself I see it a lot when I go to work with clients and that is they don’t know who owns their domain name.
First I like to get everyone on the same page. A domain name is the web address people find your website at. The official term is URL or Uniform Resource Locator. For example if you open up a web browser and enter ThatOneWebGuy.com and click enter you would find my website. That is the domain name.
To have your own domain name you’d need to go to a domain registrar and buy it. I use JustAskDomains.com that’s my own personal registrar service. Of course there are a few other steps involved to make that domain active as a website but we will stay focused on the domain name part of it.
You’re probably asking, well if I went there and bought the domain name isn’t it mine. If you bought it then yes it is yours. But what I’ve seen over and over is that people would rather their web guy or the service building their website to buy it for them.
Sadly, too many times when this happens they register it in their name or their own business name. The problem is usually discovered after the fact when the web person leaves, moves on, or the service starts raising rates and you decide to go elsewhere only to find out you don’t actually own your own website domain.
Yes, it’s the name you chose. You paid them to buy it for you. But legally it’s in their name, in their account registered to their company. Now I will say not everyone does this and will at least put your name as one of the contacts on the registration. But can you access the domain if you decide to change web hosting or hire a different web person?
It’s totally fine to hire this step out if you’re uncomfortable with technology or uncertain with the process of buying a domain name. I recommend you have them set up a new account with your contact details and give you the login information to that so you are the owner of that account. It’s very simple for them to do and guarantees you are the owner of your domain name.
I’ve been hired many times by a company or individual to do work for them and find out they don’t have access to their domain name and their site is in limbo until it is sorted out. I’ve even had a few cases where my client has lost the domain name because they’ve decided to no longer work with the high priced agency any longer and they simply let the domain name expire.
First thought is, well that’s no problem can’t I just then go buy the domain myself and all is good? Sadly, no. After a domain has expired or deleted there is a grace period of 30-45 days before the domain is released for purchase. That means your site is down during that period. This can greatly affect sales, leads, and SEO.
Additionally, they don’t have to release the domain. Maybe they decide to hold on to it. Depending on the domain name and value of the domain they could list it on an auction site to get top dollar for the domain. In that case, if you know about the auction you may end up in a bidding war for your own domain.
In case you were unaware, domain names are a huge market. People buy, sell, and even flip them for profit just as they would real estate. There are many websites and services dedicated to this market and just the same there are domain name brokers, and broker services for acquiring domain names.
Up until recently you could use services to find out who owned a domain name but that has changed to offer privacy for those owners. People tried to contact them reporting they were a representative of the company they’re registered with and attempt to have them renew or upgrade their service in hopes of claiming the domain.
I hope you’ve found this post useful and realize the importance of knowing who owns your domain. Hopefully you! If you are in need of domain or website assistance don’t hesitate to visit thatonewebguy.com and find out the many services that are available to you.