Domain names, who owns them?

A domain name is the URL you type into your browser, like “google.ca”. It identifies your website and allows people to access your website and services or products for sale. You can have most any name (word or words) in a domain name. The only characters you can use are letters (abcdefgh…), numbers (1234567…) and a dash “-“. Domain names are not case sensitive, so “Google.ca” is the same as “google.ca”.

If you are thinking of creating a website for personal or business use, ensure you research the right domain name because SEO is important to get on the first page of Google results and the starting point is a good domain name.

Long domain names are not good, people tend to remember short domain names better.  If you hire a web designer to do your site, speak with him/her on the right domain name before you make up business cards.

Having said that, do you own your domain name?

In a way yes, but remember you are paying a yearly fee to have that domain name registered to you. Once you stop paying, it eventually gets returned to the domain name pool as available for use by someone else. This says its not yours for life unless you pay for it.

Now here is the very important part of this article.

Never allow the web design company control your domain name. It must be registered into your name, where the contact information is connected to you. The reason is I came across too many people who had websites built by someone who held the domain name in their name and when that web designer left, he/she never turned the control of the domain name over to the client. Oh the headaches these clients have getting that domain name.

When I register the domain name for a client, it is in their name. I create the registrar account in their name, the website hosting account in their name, and I give them all that information.

If the web designer tells you that they will look after the domain name and never turns control over to you when the job building the site is done, then approach that web designer and get that domain name into your control. Save yourself future headaches, especially if your business becomes well known with a specific domain name. A web designer can easily look after your website and domain name without having control over registered ownership.

There is one exception to this, if the client fails to pay the final Invoice, then you can expect the web designer to hold control until the bill is paid. That is reasonable.