Are you the master of your domain?


It sounds like a funny question, but when it comes to your website’s domain, the answer can have serious implications.

If you work with an agency to market your site, it’s important to clearly define access and ownership so you can understand exactly how much control of your site the agency actually has. Understanding the implications of theses permissions is key to protecting your corporation’s online assets and ensuring that you retain lasting, total control over your online presence.

To make sure you’re the true master of your own domain, you should avoid these six common pitfalls that we’ve seen many business owners encounter.


1.)   Never share your domain registration information.

Don’t let an outside web consultant change any of your domain registrant information (through companies like Network Solutions or GoDaddy), or even become the responsible party for renewing your domain name. This is possibly the single biggest mistake you can make, since it gives outsiders the ability to make themselves the legal owner of your domain name. At that point, they can put any website they want on it, sell your domain name to anyone they’d like and force you to find an entirely new URL.

Solution: Simple. Don’t share your user name and password for your domain registration. In the event you absolutely have to share this information with outsiders, only give them temporary access, and then change the password as soon as they are done.


2.)   Never let your Internet marketing agency host your site. 

I strongly recommend never letting an Internet marketing company host your website. Hosting has nothing to do with successfully marketing a website, and it could simply be a power grab to gain more control of your site, making it much more difficult to leave that agency, should you so desire. Additionally, when you let a marketing agency host your website, you will never really know if they are using a software program to optimize your website, which can have dire consequences with search engines like Google.

Solution: Host your site with a reputable third party. If you ever want to leave your Internet marketing agency, simply call your host and change the account’s password, just to be on the safe side.


3.)   Never allow your site to be marketed with an automated software program. 

While there are many software tools SEOs can use to monitor and analyze your website, the actual work required to execute your SEO strategy should always be done by an actual person. Firms that rely on robots to generate the bulk of their content or directly build links are inevitably trading quality for quantity, and it’s your site that will suffer for their shortcut. Google has systems in place designed to find and punish these practices, and their penalties can be severe, making domains virtually un-rankable for months or even years. On top of this, most content produced by such systems is nearly unreadable, causing a poor user experience that can kill conversions.

Solution: Again, host your site with a reputable third party, and never let your marketing firm install a program on your Web server, rely on one to generate content, or use one to promote it automatically. (Most third-party hosts would never allow software to be installed on their web servers, anyway.)


4.)   Never use a proprietary content management systems (CMS). 

The scary word here is “proprietary,” which roughly translates into, “won’t work for anyone else,” should you decide to leave that company. Some Web companies may tell you not to worry about using their CMS, since they can give you an export of all the files. However, what they are leaving out is that an export, in most cases, will leave you with a website that cannot be easily changed, or changed at all, for that matter. It’s like owning an expensive car that nobody can work on except the dealer who sold it.

Solution: If you want a content-managed website, ask your Web company to code your website using an open-source CMS like WordPress, which is a robust system that anyone can work on. Then, you can be confident that even if you leave or move firms, you’ll still be able to effectively control the elements of your website.


5.)   Truly own your website design. 

When you pay a firm for a custom Web design, you want to make sure you receive all the original files that make up the design of your website. More specifically, you want to own what in most cases will be called the original “.psd” files, or Photoshop document files. Having these files will make it easier if you ever want to modify the design yourself, or want to incorporate new work from another firm or artist.

Solution: Get it in writing that you will be the copyright owner of all the original art files used to create your website and that they will get those files transferred to you when your site launches.


6.)   Never have a designer/Web marketer who is frequently MIA.

If you are unable to easily track down “the guy” who is designing and coding your website before it launches, there’s a good chance he’ll vanish entirely once it does. Then, it’s very easy to find yourself stuck with a website full of broken features with no easy way to get them corrected. This really gets down to making a wise decision when hiring a trustworthy firm to design and market your website.

Solution: Work with an experienced firm that has established offices and reliable references. Remember that many unscrupulous SEOs may buy reviews to cast them in a positive light, so look at who is posting them and not just the star ratings when evaluating their credentials.


In summary, be the Master of your Domain! The only way to do this is to make informed decisions. While it can be tempting to look for shortcuts on projects the size of a website design in the interest of convenience, there is ultimately nothing more convenient than knowing you hold all the cards when it comes to your website and Internet marketing strategies. 

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About the author: As an Internet marketing expert who has helped hundreds of companies build and enhance their Web presence, Chris Behan has an unparalleled depth of knowledge in executing online campaigns to help companies stand out from their competitors online. Drawing upon 18+ years of Internet marketing expertise, Chris frequently speaks at national conferences to guide building and remodeling companies on tailoring their online strategies to meet their lead generation goals. He is the founder of one of the largest Internet marketing firms in the country, which successfully manages some of the most well-known and successful national home improvement campaigns online.

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