Owning your website domain isn’t as simple as having access to the files to change it up through an online tool – such as a “EZ Web Builder” or similar program. Access to those files depends on the company that owns the software.
If your site crashes, do you have to sit on a support line for hours in order to get it back online? If this happens regularly, do you even have the opportunity to switch over to another service?
The one piece of the website puzzle that the customer must always own is the domain name. This has to be registered under their name.
How to find out if you own your website domain?
You can use a simple tool like whois.com – which will tell you all the information about a domain name, including technical support contact information – and the registered owner.
It will also tell you when it was created, and when it will expire! (In case you’ve forgotten, or would like to plan a move to another provider in the future.)
Note: Whois search can be blocked if someone has chosen to make the information private.
Website Domain Scenario One
You want to change to another website designer and you own your domain
It’s not a problem to get your domain directed to a new site location. It’s similar to removing those brass numbers from your house, and reattaching them to a house down the street. Traffic on the street wouldn’t change – there may be some confused parties for a day or so, but they would soon accept the change. When you own your domain, It takes a maximum of 24 hours for this change to happen – which is called “propagation.” It’s the process of saving the adjusted site’s location on servers around the entire world. Once it’s done – it stays that way, and people are able to find the new site at it’s current location.
Website Domain Scenario Two
You want to change to another website designer and you don’t own your domain
This process becomes much, much more difficult, and sometimes impossible. The reasoning behind this – is that when you don’t own the domain, it’s complicated to ‘demand’ that a piece of property that you don’t own is altered. Even if you own a domain that is your personal name, first and last – and a dot com on the end. (i.e. fredjohnston.com) If you’ve signed up with a “free domain with web design” service, you’ve most likely walked into a trap of sorts. They own the domain, and have “registered it for you.” Most likely, what they’ve done – is to register it in their name, which means they are the legal owners of the domain. When you go to remove it or redirect it to another website location, they can flat-out deny your request, locking you in to their service for the extent of the contract.
Many times, this leads to frustration – and if you’re lucky, you might be able to get someone to release the domain to you. This is a process that is much more complicated than it should be. Transferring ownership of a domain is a simple task – the only concern being the wait-period when it’s being transferred. This can take between 2-7 days – depending on your provider.
If you are one of the people who has a “locked in for the remainder of the contract” – but have decided to cancel the contract, and you still can’t get your domain… I’m sorry, it might be gone. A good move at this point, is to assess your current website, in regards to SEO metrics – see how it’s ranking online (using an incognito browser), and see if you should risk obtaining a new domain name. Seek out the help of an SEO when you choose the domain name, as you can get something that will help you to grow your business online from the very beginning of the process.