The Web For Business.com Blog

Internet marketing observations, perspectives, tips and tricks for your education and enlightenment.


Do you own your domain?

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, June 15, 2011

For the second time in less than a week, I have advised a business owner that they aren't the registrant for their domain. On a hunch, I checked out another domain and found the company using it also isn't the registrant.

What's a registrant, anyway?

Here's some terminology.

Registrant: the legal owner of the domain.

Registrar: the company a domain is registered through.

Administrative Contact: the person who has the ability to make changes to the domain.

There are thousands of registrars out there. In my opinion, it doesn't matter who you use.

What is important though is that whoever registers your domain (you or your website developer) registers the domain IN YOUR COMPANY NAME. Or, if you're the owner of the company, it can be done in your name. This is the way things should be.

The administrative contact can be you or your website developer. I manage domains for my clients so in many cases it is my email address that is the contact address for the Administrative Contact. However, my client is always the registrant (owner) of their domain.

What happens when you don't own your domain? Usually nothing. Many website developers (in haste, and with no ill-intent) register domains for their clients because the developer has an account set up with a registrar and the client doesn't.

Sometimes things don't work out between the client and the developer and the client wants to move on. MOST developers will simply transfer ownership of the domain to the client at that point. Some developers do not, and that's when problems can arise.

If you or your company is not listed as the registrant of your domain, you are not the owner and have no legal "right" to it. You may have used the domain for a decade, but that doesn't confer any right to ownership. As such, if your developer goes out of business and closes their hosting accounts or shuts down their servers, you can't call the registrar and ask them to activate your domain elsewhere because you have no right to do so.

I've seen worse situations where the relationship between a developer and client went bad and the developer refused to release the domain to the client. Suddenly, the client had no website and no email. This is highly unprofessional behaviour, but it happens.

In short, you need to make sure you or your company are the owner of your domain. If you decide to switch website developers or if your developer goes out of business and shuts down their servers, you could be stuck with no ability to get your domain back if you're not the registrant.

If you're not sure if you're the owner of your domain, please email me and I'll help you find out.

New Business, No Website. Really?

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, May 19, 2010
I went to a restaurant that had been open for three months for the first time today. The food was good, the place was clean and the owners were very nice people. The restaurant had a nice logo and it looked to me that their chairs were custom-made to incorporate the logo and the initials of the restaurant in the design. All in all, they had put in a lot of effort to make the place nice.

However, the one thing they didn't have was a website. I asked why and they said it was because they're still working on finalizing their menu. They also didn't have flyers with a take-out menu as that's still in flux.

I can understand not wanting to print 5000 flyers with a menu that is likely to change, but not having a website to help market the business didn't make sense to me.

At the very least a single webpage with their own domain would have given people their address and phone number and possibly directions (with a Google map) of where to find them. Cost: under $200 / year.

Phone directories are the new doorstops to many and the younger generation searches for everything online. Not being online when the costs are so low is inexcusable.

Please pass this message along to any business owner you know who doesn't have a website. I'd love to know what's keeping them offline.