Business Insights

Business Insights

Why You Need To Own Your Domain Name And Hosting

 Your company’s domain names are like pairs of trousers. They play a vital role in how you present yourself to the outside world, so it is important to ensure that you are in full control of them at all times - failure to do so could trip you up, or leave you seriously exposed.

Web hosting is important too – you don’t want to open your wardrobe one morning and find that all of your trousers have been replaced by a dozen pairs of Bermuda shorts.

Rest assured, this tortured simile does have a point – and a grounding in reality. We asked Robert Stead, one of our marketing directors, to share his experiences of clients who didn’t take a belt-and-braces approach to their domains and hosting, and were hung out to dry as a result. The companies involved will remain nameless to spare their blushes.

Squatters’ rights?

Robert’s first example concerns a tech company which was looking to launch a new product: “The team had gone to the trouble of trademarking the product name, but had neglected to register the appropriate domain name, too. This was spotted by a third party, who registered the domain name and tried to sell it back to the tech company at an inflated price.

“Whilst this was a clear case of cyber-squatting – which the company’s lawyers eventually resolved – it significantly delayed the product launch.”

With the recent increase in available Top-Level Domains (TLDs, such as, .net, .com or .web), consideration should be given to registering multiple addresses. For UK businesses, and .com should be considered as a minimum.

Robert tells us of a UK company who registered their domain, but neglected to register the .com equivalent: “The developer of the site fell out with the UK company, bought the .com domain and redirected it to a competitor of the UK company. The company took legal action to recover the .com domain, only to find that it was then redirected to somewhere entirely different – and far less savoury. “


Pointing in the right direction: There's nothing to stop your domain name's owner from redirecting it elsewhere

Domain management organisation ICANN can often help in situations like this, but with legal costs starting at over £4k, it is a costly and time-consuming business.

Held to ransom

To take the pain out of domain name registration and web hosting, you may have employed an external firm to handle it for you. They may be the same firm who are building and maintaining your website, but this too can have its pitfalls, as Robert explains: “A company who relied on their website to run their business had an agency build and host the site, as well as manage the registration of their domain name. Unfortunately, there was a falling out over money, so the agency turned off the site and refused to release the domain until they were paid.”

Whilst the site was recreated quickly to allow the company to continue trading, the cost of doing so was more than the amount disputed. And although the domain name was eventually recovered, the whole exercise consumed time, money and management effort.

The agency was able to hold the website hostage because they were technically the registered owner of the domain. If you opted for a similar agency-controlled model, or other turn-key website package, you might find yourself in a similar position.

You can confirm the ownership of your domain by visiting a whois website and entering your URL. If the details displayed are those of your agency or web designer, you may want to take action now to ensure that a third party cannot take your website – or your trousers – down in future.

As Robert sees it, “you wouldn’t trust another company to own your patents, intellectual property or trademarks, so don’t do it with your digital assets either.”

Want to check how the rest of your marketing wardrobe stacks up? Take a look at our Marketing 360 Healthcheck.



Featured image credit:

Tim Dorr from Flickr, under a Creative Commons 2.0 licence

Written by Ged Leigh

Ged Leigh is Regional Director for The Marketing Centre and specialises in working with small and mid-size businesses. He has over 30 years’ experience working in Private Equity backed and family owned SME companies including technical textiles, construction, engineering, recycling, waste management and paper.

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