You may very well be under the impression that you are the sole owner of your domain name. Are you absolutely sure that you are? Your domain name should be yours alone and it is extremely important to your business.
It is very important that you know as much as possible about your domain. You should know exactly where it is registered. You should also know who it is registered with. The sad truth is that many people don’t know anything about their domain at all.
What is a domain name?
Your domain name is the most important identifier of your website. If you don’t have a domain name, people will not be able to find all of the great content that you are publishing on the Internet. Your content is at the heart of your business. A good analogy is if someone were to steal the number off of your house. If that were to happen, in order to ensure that you were protected from that occurring again, you would install an alarm or take some other protective measure that would deter anyone from doing that to you.
When it comes to your domain, the concept is the same. If you bought your domain name and took care of registering it yourself through a hosting company, such as GoDaddy or HostGator, you can feel secure in the fact that no harm will come to it and that nobody can touch it. In that case, there is a guarantee that only you own your domain. If anyone else tries to touch your domain, the hosting company will send you a warning, alerting you to the fact.
On the other hand, if you didn’t go that route and you got someone else to set up your web presence (they promised you that they would take care of everything), there is a very good possibility that when they registered your domain, they supplied the hosting company with their business information instead of yours. What commonly occurs after that is that they make you a prisoner to their web hosting company. If you hire someone whose prices sound too good to be true, they will probably take advantage of you in some other way—maybe through the hosting of your domain. The expenses surrounding hosting your domain should not be expensive at all. If you are quoted a high price, something is wrong.
The reality is that the domain name belongs to the person whose information is in WHOIS (a searchable database that is maintained by the registrar that contains information about domain names as well as the contacts that are associated with them). It doesn’t matter who actually paid for the domain. Anyone who wants to know can contact WHOIS and request information about any domain name, which server the domain name is on, where it is registered, and even when it will expire and thus become available to someone else to buy.
Here are some tips to ensure that only you are the registered, legal owner of all of your domain names.
- Only buy your domain name from a hosting provider if you are sure that your domain name will be placed in WHOIS.
- Beware of people who offer you a free domain name with their hosting package.
- Always check out your domain name on WHOIS before you purchase a website.
- Check out the legitimacy by searching for them on WHOIS. Search for the date of creation of the domain. This will let you know how long that particular company has been in business under that domain.
- Register your domain for a longer period of time rather than a shorter one, if possible.
Having a domain over which you have absolutely no control because someone else has done everything for you and has given all of their business information to the hosting company instead of your information is very dangerous. Never allow anyone else to take control over what is yours. If you find that you are in that situation, try to get out of it as soon as possible. Even if it means that you will need to register a new name with one of the reliable and legitimate hosting companies, do it. It will definitely be worth it to be able to have the control.
Just to reiterate, regarding your rights, if you are paying money for your web presence, make sure that you own the website, own the domain, own the copyright, own the analytics data, own all other data, own the content, and are able to move the contents to any hosting company of your choosing whenever you like.
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About the Author.
Michael Cohn is the founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of CompuKol Communications LLC. He has over 25 years of experience in IT and web technologies.
Mr. Cohn founded CompuKol Communications to help small businesses and entrepreneurs increase their exposure and reputation on the Internet. CompuKol consults, creates, and implements communication strategies for small businesses to monopolize their markets with a unique business voice, vision, and visibility.
Prior to that, Mr. Cohn spent a significant amount of time at a major telecommunications company, where his main focus was on initiating and leading synergy efforts across all business units by dramatically improving efficiency, online collaboration, and the company’s Intranet capabilities, which accelerated gains in business productivity. His expertise includes social media marketing strategies; internet marketing; web presence design; business analysis; project management; management of global cross-matrix teams; systems engineering and analysis, architecture, prototyping and integration; technology evaluation and assessment; systems development; performance evaluation; and management of off-shore development.
Mr. Cohn earned a Master’s degree in project management from George Washington University in Washington, DC; and a Master’s degree in computer science and a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ.
Mr. Cohn is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).