Do you own your domain name?

do you own your domain

Do you own your domain name? You really should, and it’s pretty simple why you should.

It sounds pretty obvious, right? It’s your domain name, you own it, you control it, and no one else. It is amazing how often this is not the case, we come across the same situation every day in our business.

The story is generally the same. “We had this guy/girl (usually a guy) build our website for us, it was never really that great, but we thought it was pretty good at the time. It took a little longer to finish than expected – maybe three times the length of time he estimated – but it all worked out. We needed some changes made a little while after the site went live and these took a while too. Eventually, the designer became really hard to get in contact with and harder to get any changes made to the site. Now we can’t seem to get in contact at all, we are pretty sure he has moved on and is no longer in business…”

Ok, that’s not an uncommon story, it’s often the reality of dealing with a small business, they don’t always stick around forever, or even keep offering the same services – that’s life. We can help. Often all we need is access details to the hosting and domain name and everything can be back on track really quickly and you are back in the game with a huge weight lifted from your shoulders.

But what if you don’t have those access details for your domain name, and you can’t get them?

This is where a lot of businesses get caught out, and it’s not entirely their fault. Registering a domain name can seem a little daunting when you haven’t done it before (it’s actually really easy and inexpensive in most cases). The web developer offers to do it for you, just does it because they don’t want to invest the time in educating you how to, or you ask (or beg) them to do it for you. It get’s done and doesn’t hold the project up – there’s an incentive for web developers to cut a corner right there! And exhale, it’s done, we don’t have to think about that until it’s due for renewal, for a .com.au that’s a least 2 years away.

Maybe it’s obvious that this is a problem waiting to happen? The domain name might be registered in your business name (maybe not, and that’s an even bigger issue) but the contact details and billing information are that of the web developer, they will get the renewal notice, they will get the “lost password request” emails. If they move on you often have a massive access and ownership issue you need to overcome!

What can go wrong?

  • Your developer goes MIA and takes all access details with him
  • The domain isn’t renewed and your site is taken offline, including all email access
  • If the domain name isn’t renewed and you can’t gain access, you will either need to contest the ownership with auda or wait until it becomes available again and register itself, either could take months
  • Worst case scenario, you lose your existing website, completely and start again (sounds bad for business hey)

It can be difficult to pick up the pieces sometimes, but having to start again with a different name? I’m sure you can see the minefield of issues that brings with it! Email addresses changing, website address changing and starting from scratch with any SEO value your old site may have had. Not to mention the loss of content from the website – if you’ve invested any time or money in your website, it’s critical that YOU have control of the asset.

I’m focusing on Australian domains here and our system as that is most applicable to our clients. There is an implied level of protection for .com.au and .net.au names, you are required to hold an ABN or ACN to be able to register a domain, and that domain should be closely associated with your registered business name or business activity. The last part, is applied retrospectively, so if I register your domain with my ABN you’ll need to contest that you should be the rightful owner – therefore it’s easy for a web developer to register a domain on your behalf that has NO connection to you – If they run off into the bush, you’ll need to chase them! If you can’t catch them head for the auda complaints page and start clawing back your rightful ownership.

Even better, get it right from the start and register your own domain name, find a reputable registrar here: www.auda.org.au/industry-information/registrars and get started!

If your web developer has all the details, it’s time to have the conversation and gain the control you should have over your property.

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