There are a lot of mistakes that business owners can make when it comes to their websites – and one of the biggest mistakes I have come across is in regards to your domain name.

When choosing a domain name for your business, never allow another person – consultant, web designer, family member or friend – to purchase that domain for you.  The person who purchases that domain puts their name on the domain and therefore they legally own it and control it.

I run into this at least once a year and have seen it twice now in a matter of weeks, so I thought it was important to write about.  These are the horror stories…

Horror story #1 involves a woman who had her website built buy a nice gentleman who registered her domain for her.  He actually did register the account under her name, however, he spelled her name incorrectly on the account.  He has now died and never provided her with login access to her domain account.  Therefore she has no access to her domain name or her website and the hosting provider will not acknowledge that she owns it because the name is spelled incorrectly.  She now has to wait until her domain name expires and then hopes to purchase it before anyone else snags it.

Horror story #2 involves a client for whom I am completing a website rebuild.  I looked up her domain registration information at the beginning of the project and noticed the domain was registered to the company that originally built her first website.  I told her to contact them to have her added to the account as the account admin and they asked her for her login info.  Of course – they never provided her with login information and now they don’t seem to have it either.  So when the new website build is done, we will have a hard time pointing the domain to the new website.

Unfortunately, these stories are not unique but happen every day.  So how can you make sure you do not end up in the same situation?

  1. ALWAYS purchase your own domain name.  You can always provide login access to your web designer later if needed.
  2. If you have an existing domain name, you can look up who the domain name is registered to by looking at the “WhoIs” information.  The WhoIs directory lists the registrant for every domain name that has been purchased and you can look up your domains by going to http://whois.com.  See someone else’s name there?  Then contact them immediately and get the login information to your account so you can switch the account holder information.

Want to learn how to avoid more website mistakes – or fix ones you might have made?  Join me for “The Top 10 Marketing Mistakes Most Businesses Make on the Website AND How You Can Avoid Them.”  This is a FREE webinar on Thursday, May 9th that includes plenty of time for live Q&A.