A domain name is the address of your website (louisvillewebnerds.com, for example).
You should always own and control your domain name. It’s the #1 asset you need to own to make sure your website is always yours. Not the hosting. Not even the website itself. It all comes down to your domain name.
Over the course of my 15+ year web career, I’ve run into several situations where website owners lost control of their domain name. They either had to go through a legal hassle and shell out a lot of money to get it back, had to jump through all kinds of hoops to track it down, or had to buy a brand new domain name and start completely from scratch.
This typically happens for a few reasons:
- Someone else buys and sets up your domain for you while building your website and does not provide you account access (thus they completely control it).
- You lose the login credentials to your domain provider
- You let your domain name expire and someone else buys it
Here is why each one of those is a problem.
A Third-Party Buys and Controls Your Domain
If someone else buys and controls your website domain and does not provide you with the necessary credentials to manage it, then you have zero control over the domain if you ever want to do anything like switch web hosts, switch who manages your website, or do anything else that the domain requires.
I’ve seen this result multiple times in the highly unethical practice of agencies holding a domain hostage, and basically not allowing business owners access to do anything with it. This way it’s impossible to switch away from their services unless a brand new domain is purchased, which obviously isn’t ideal.
It’s unfortunate and infuriating when I see this, but it happens from time to time.
Always make sure you own your domain. If you don’t, ask for it to be transferred to you.
You Lose Your Login Credentials
One of the major pains about operating a business online is the vast amount of login credentials you have to remember.
If you forget your login credentials to your domain, when you do want to make changes, or have someone make changes for you, they cannot do anything unless they have the login.
As a best-practice as a business owner, you should ALWAYS keep an accurate record of all of the logins that are important to your business. You don’t want to be in a situation where you need to login to something and you have to ask one of your service providers to help you. They may or may not be available to do so.
You also need to make sure if your contact information such as your name or phone numbers changes, that you update it in anything critical. Otherwise you may not be able to recover your login if you lose it.
TIP: Rather than writing logins down in something that can be easily misplaced or stolen, use a secure third-party service like LastPass to store your logins. It’ll save you a ton of time and hassle. Believe me.
You Let Your Domain Expire
Another common occurence I see with domains is letting them expire. Not only will this cause your website to become unavailable, but you also run the risk of someone else buying your domain in the meantime. You then would have to buy it back from them if you want to regain control of your website.
It’s a very common practice for domain brokers to look for recently expired domains, snatch them up in bulk, and just wait for someone who needs them. For even tiny domains, it can cost thousands of dollars to fix a situation like this.
Always remember to make sure your domain is set up to auto-renew and your payment information is kept up to date. This way you never run into a situation where you lose your domain.
What to do Instead
As a business owner with a website, it’s your responsibility to make sure you own and control your own website domain.
To do this, make sure when you go to set up your website, you purchase your domain from a top domain provider, set it up to auto-renew, keep the payment information up to date, and store the login credentials somewhere safe.
This way if you ever need to make a change to your domain, you can get help with it if you need to, can change the password as needed, and any actions you take on the domain are totally in your control.
If you don’t currently own and control your domain, contact the person to manages your website and ask them to transfer to an account that you own.
They’ll still be able to access it there, and you’ll have the control you need to protect your website and business.
Need Help? Contact Us.
If you need help with any of your domain or website needs, feel free to get in touch with us at any time. We’ll be happy to chat.