Losing your domain is as catastrophic as losing your business premises

Losing your domain is as catastrophic as losing your business premises

Who Owns Your Business Website?

“Well obviously I do” is what most of you are thinking, and you’re probably right.

Unfortunately, this may not be true!

It is quite possible that your website is owned by:

  • The original web designer
  • The previous business owner
  • An employee or ex-employee

How Can You Find Out? 

There are a number of “Who Is” look-up sites. We use www.whois-search.com. Simply enter your domain name into the search box at the top and it will give you all the registration details for that domain.

The registration details can include details for a Registrant, an Administrative, and a Technical contact, as well as hosting server information.

The Registrant is the legal owner of the domain. If this is you, or your business, then you can rest assured that you own the domain. Do check that all your contact details are current.

What is Domain Registration?

It might be useful to point out here that although we refer to domain “ownership” it is more accurately domain “rental”. Domain Registration is for a fixed period, usually 1 or 2 years, after which it has to be renewed.

If your domain is owned by a third party, then you may not know when your domain registration is due for renewal. This could result in your website disappearing from the internet and your domain name being made available for sale – not too different to having your business premises burn down, and then discovering you have no insurance. This happened to a client of ours when the original web designer gave up his business and emigrated – no malice intended, just something that got overlooked!

What happens if it doesn’t belong to you?

Depends on why it happened.

  • In some cases it’s because the registered owners aren’t aware of the legal implications, and have just used the most convenient method, and asking them to transfer it to you should be fairly straight forward.
  • In other cases it may well have been done in order to, either charge you a much higher rate for the registration, or to deliberately and cynically retain control and thereby hold you hostage to their services. This could be when you need professional advice. ICANN, the organization that controls domain name registration has developed a “Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy” for these situations. Under this policy, a company that owns a domain name that’s completely unrelated to its core business may have a hard time holding onto it. If you need help reclaiming your domain name then please give us a call, and we’ll see if we can help.

If you’re not sure who the registrant for your domain is, then just email us with the domain name and we’ll send you a free report with the domain registrant details and renewal dates for your domain.

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Ian Smith
Dr Ian Smith

32 years of marketing experience to help small businesses understand the world of website marketing.