Do You Own Your Website?

It doesn’t happen often but once in a while, I will sit down to have a conversation with a potential client who would like to discuss the prospect of having us do their marketing. Within this discussion, the topic of hosting their website comes up.

Over the years, I have learned to ask one critical question at the beginning.

“Do you actually own your website?”

This sometimes comes as a shock because most small businesses naturally assume that they already own their website but those pesky little contracts can sometimes in rare instances say otherwise.

There are marketing companies will go ahead and provide a lower-cost solution for their service but also retain the ownership of the website itself. The next question I ask often stuns them even more.

“Do you actually own the content on your website?”

Now, the reason that I ask this is that those same companies will often do digital marketing for the small business which can include writing the copy.

This is a strategy to keep clients as customers, knowing that it is difficult for some businesses to justify changing agencies. It leaves the small business with the choice of staying with their existing marketing company or moving to another company and starting from scratch. Sometimes an expensive proposition.

It’s sad but true but a lot of small businesses do not realize what they do not own until they go to make a change. That is why I always suggest that people confirm ownership of all their online properties.

Who is in Charge of Your Domains?

Your online property may be more than just your website. This property comes in many forms. Do you actually own the domain for your website which can sometimes have more potential value than the website files themselves. In owning your own domain you build up a lot of SEO value and brand recognition overtime.

What you always want to keep in mind is no matter what you create for online use, be sure you retain ultimate ownership. There is no reason that a marketing company or web development company needs to take ownership of your domain to build you a website.

I have seen this tactic all too often and there’s just no reason for it. You can provide access to marketing companies for your domain and DNS settings just by adding them as user to the account. GoDaddy, BlueHost any number of domain registrars offer this capability and there’s no reason that you should have to relinquish ownership for any reason.

Who Really Controls The Social Media Profiles?

Social media however does get a little trickier. Different platforms offer different ways to allow users to interact. For example Twitter Remains the sole platform that offers one username and password and that is it. While Facebook allows people to add other administrators, editor’s and different levels of access profiles. You can actually add and remove people that work on the account. That is so long as you are the Admin. Which is why you have to check.

One of the biggest offenders of this is the Google My Business listing. Just the same as Facebook, you want to go ahead and add users. Even if they create the account, you want them to designate you as the Primary Owner. For the most part, people usually don’t have any idea who created the listing to begin with. (That is a story for another article) 

Now I do not wish to scare small businesses out there. Most marketing companies operate ethically and are happy to go ahead and relinquish the control of these accounts to their clients. Once in a while though I have run across situations where the marketing freelance holds these profiles and online properties hostage in order to get fees that may be in dispute by the customer.

Are You Confident That You Can Keep Your Google Ads Account?

You may put a lot of effort and investment into setting up and running a Google Ads campaign. There’s a lot of historical data there and time put into refining the ads. Don’t allow someone the ability to lock you out of your own account when taking ownership is so much easier in the beginning.

The online media usually sides with “possession is 9/10ths of the law.” Twitter really doesn’t want to hear about your claim that the profile is yours. That being said. It does not mean there is no recourse in some of these situations. But I have seen too much time and expense going into fighting to reclaim what rightfully belongs to a business and loss of marketing time that hurts the overall organization for something that could have easily been addressed years before.