There is a lot to remember when purchasing a new website. What web designer to go with? Should you use a template based website like WordPress and Joomla or a custom website that is hand coded? Do you want to have your own images on the site or use stock photography? How will you handle the on-page SEO? All of these are important questions to ask at the the onset of your website buying endeavor. However they are not the most important thing to remember when buying a new website. The single most important thing to make sure you do when purchasing a new website is...
MAKE SURE YOU OWN YOUR WEBSITE AND DOMAIN!
When purchasing a website you have to make sure that when everything is said and done you will be the sole owner of the content of your site and the domain name you settle on. This way if you have any problems down the road with your hosting company or web developer you can walk away and find someone new to use without having to go through the nightmare of finding out that you might not actually own that website you have been paying so much money for.
You see, some of the less than reputable website creation/selling companies out there may set you up with a new site for a great price and then plan on making a killing off of you by charging hosting and 'maintenance' fees for the next five years. When in year two you have had enough of their shoddy service and try to leave you may discover that in the fine print you never really had ownership of your domain name.
Your domain name is the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) that someone types into an address bar to come to your site. For us ajacwebdesign.com would be our domain name. We purchased the rights to it for X number of years and chose a reliable hosting company to keep it on-line for us. We built our website and there it sits for the foreseeable future as long as we continue to renew it when the domain expires. If we become dissatisfied with our current hosting company we can take our domain name to someone else. A simple domain transfer and we can be up and running without skipping a beat.
The less than reputable web design companies don't give you this option. They never actually sign over ownership of the domain to you. If you become unhappy with them and want to go somewhere else you will find that in the fine print they own the domain name you have been using. The domain name that you have been putting on your business cards, directory listings, flyers, newsletters, et cetera. The thought of losing something that you have put so much time into promoting is a devastating prospect.
It gets worse though! If you do decide to cut ties and start fresh with a new domain name you will lose all those delicious links that are pointing back to your site. Those links are SEO (search engine optimization) gold that help your site rank better on search engines like Google and Bing. Those same search engines also love for a domain name to have some age to it. They will trust a site that has been on-line and relevant for a few years over a new site that has just popped up. Making a new website on a new domain can have very negative search engine implications.
We field calls all the time from people who are unhappy with their current web developer. A lot of them charge monthly 'maintenance' fees to host the sites that can range anywhere from $25 to $100 dollars a month. This is simply highway robbery for 99% of business sites out there. They are displeased with the costs and service of their current web developers.
The first question we always ask them is this:
Do you own your domain?
Sadly the answer more often than not is no. They do not own their own domain name. They never knew how important that little factor was when purchasing a new website. Because of that they end up stuck in a situation where the web developer they can't stand has all the leverage in the situation.
All of this can be avoided if you keep in mind the most important thing when purchasing a new website: OWN YOUR DOMAIN.
We hope this blog post saves some people headaches in the future. If you find yourself stuck in this situation fear not. We have a lot of experience in wrestling control of your domain back to you. Contact us today and we will be happy to discuss with you what steps need to be taken to get yourself back where you belong. In sole ownership of your website and domain name.
By Charles Daniels