Your Digital Assets: Domain Names

Over the years, I have met with hundreds of business owners. They are all extremely different, and many of them seemed to start the journey into the digital world with a plan. They are organized, aware of the value of their online real estate, and they understand how important their digital assets are to their company’s bottom line. They own their online presence.

However there are many business owners who meet with us at Maximize Digital Media, either virtually or in person, who are embarrassed at their own lack of knowledge. They seem sheepish when they admit that they have no idea what a registrar is or what a hosting company does. When we ask them if they have an analytics code installed on their current website, they look like they want to run out the door and never come back.

You’re not alone.

We convince them to stay. “It’s ok,” we say. “You’re not alone. We know you’re busy running your business.” At this point, we’re ready to help them dig out of the hole that not paying attention has created for them. It’s frustrating, but it’s important. Because, someday, when it’s time to talk about what your business is worth, when you’re ready to sell it, and enjoy the fruits of your labor in retirement, the valuation of your business will be greatly increased if you can show how your digital presence is making you money.

Digital is here to stay.

It’s way too common and I hope, by writing this blog post, you will share this with the business owner whose website seems to need an update, or the owner of the company who seems to use his website more like a brochure than a lead generation tool. Because we find these are the signs that the business owner might need a helping hand.

In this first post in the Your Digital Assets series, we’re going to discuss your domain name. I compare this to the title of your home or property. Your virtual real estate works much like your physical assets. Ownership is the key. If you own the company, you/your company should own the assets.

There is never a good reason for a third party to own your domain name.

Period.

 We’ve sliced it every possible way – and we’ve never found a “good reason.” And it’s never been easy to obtain the information, or get the domain out of someone else’s hands and into the business owner’s possession.

It usually goes something like this: The business owner comes in to the office, and asks us to take a look at their website. They want to build a new site, or make some minor changes, or improve their online visibility in the search engines.

We ask them the 1st two questions: 1. Who is your registrar, and 2. Do you have your account access?

We can usually figure this out by checking the WHOIS information for their domain, and when we ask them, “Who is ________________?” (The person listed as the owner of their domain.) Then, it all comes out… “My business partner’s son, who is now out of college and traveling the world and he has the login information in his apartment in Seattle.” or “My friend who said he’d help me build a website for my company, but he got married and everything changed – he won’t even answer my calls.”

We don’t think people are (always) maliciously setting things up this way. And we agree, it would be easier, faster, and more efficient for the person who “understands these things” to go ahead and take care of it. But a little extra work on the front end avoids some major frustrations later on.

What, for example, will you do if/when:

  • The person who owns your domain moves on, loses interest in the website business, or just disappears
  • The person who owns your domain wants you to pay more, or worse, holds the domain ransom
  • You want to make changes or add services
  • You want to do something with another vendor or agency
  • You want to sell the company

Keep in mind – the domain registrar (ie GoDaddy) has a relationship with the person who purchases the domain name – that is their customer. So they won’t do anything if you call them to tell them that it’s your business. If the person who purchased your domain name is not cooperating, or won’t transfer the domain into your name, you are at their mercy – or you’re going to need to seek legal counsel.

Transferring is easy! You just need them to agree to the process.

Once you and the person agree to transfer the ownership from their name to yours, it’s a relatively simple process. It will require a couple of emails and some confirmation, and the purchase of a “transfer” with the company you are going to register the domain with so that you can transfer the domain from the existing registrar’s account to the account you set up (with whatever registrar you choose). This can take up to seven days to complete, depending on the level of communication between you and the current owner of the domain and the processes set up by each of the registrars. It’s usually pretty easy when you are transferring between two accounts with the same registrar. For example: If the current registrar is GoDaddy and you are transferring the domain to your GoDaddy account, the process can be completed almost instantly.

Registering your domain name is not expensive (about $8-12 per year). We recommend registering with GoDaddy, mostly because they are the most reliable, and tend to shoot straight when it comes to domain registration – they don’t charge you for things you don’t need. We don’t recommend their hosting, but that’s another conversation! Just get your domain with them and we can talk about the other stuff later!

We’re here to help!

If you need our assistance in obtaining ownership of your domain from another party, or if you are just getting started and need some help getting things set up, we are here to help! At Maximize, we’re invested in your business’s long-term success. Our office number: 863-606-5994 or you can send an email to info (at) maximizedigitalmedia.com