Wondering what you should know about your website? Would you like to ensure you have proper control of one of your most valuable assets.
Every business owner should know these 7 key pieces of information about their website.
1. Who actually owns your domain name?
You might not own or control your business domain name if you didn’t register it yourself. Sometimes, unscrupulous (or just incompetent) website designers will register a client’s domain name for them, in the agency account AND in the agency name. Sometimes a staff member doing for the company simply doesn’t understand the difference between the Registrant and the Registrant Contact and will put their personal name in both fields.
Whilst we talk about ‘owning’ a domain name (and will continue to throughout this article for simplicity) you never actually ‘own’ the domain, merely the right to it (like a lease). However once you register a domain, most people consider you the ‘owner’. As long sa you continue to pay your registration fee, you will continue to enjoy the benefits equivalent to ownership.
The International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) licenses registrars to assign or register domains names to the public.
So how do you find out who has registered your domain name. The simplest way is to use a WHOIS lookup service like https://whois.domaintools.com.
Now, you may not be able to see any of the contact information if the domain owner has a “privacy service” on the account. If you find this is the case then you will need to login to your Registrar and turn off the Privacy (temporarily at least) to view the information.
Here’s an example to walk you through it.
Domain Name: CLICKHEREWEBDESIGN.COM.AU
Registry Domain ID: D407400000002060092-AU
Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.auda.org.au
Last Modified: 2020-02-10T00:32:57Z
Registrar Name: Web Address Registration Pty Ltd
Registrar Abuse Contact Email:
Registrar Abuse Contact Phone:
Registrant Contact ID: R-022566567-SN
Registrant Contact Name: Fiona Herbert
Tech Contact ID: C-000151040-SN
Tech Contact Name: Fiona Herbert
Name Server: NS1.INMOTIONHOSTING.COM
Name Server: NS2.INMOTIONHOSTING.COM
Registrant: The Trustee for Punkem No2 Trust
Registrant ID: ABN 34654614206
Eligibility Type: Other
The important information here includes:-
- Registrar – this is where the domain is registered. You should have login details for this company to be able to review your domain and renew it. If you’re not sure about the name here, google it and you may find it is actually a common registrar behind it. In this example, this company is actually Crazy Domains.
- Registrant – this is the MOST important item – this is who actually, legally owns the right to use the domain.
If it’s not you, then you need to address this asap. If you don’t legally control the domain name, then it is not an asset of your business and can be sold without you knowledge or agreement.
- Registrant Contact –this is where the renewal notice and any other correspondence will likely be sent. This may be your agency if they are managing it for you. As long as you have access to the Registrar account, you can change it any time you like.
And, while your checking your domain name, we recommend you make sure all the contact details are correct, and actually up to date. Because even if you did the initial registration, details change and domain names are frequently forgotten in company moves and updates.
I recently had to deep dive into ASIC business names and registrations, internet archives and trademarks to trace and prove the ownership of a domain for a client.
Twenty years ago they registered a domain in their business name. But multiple registration and name changes later, they were suddenly blocked from selling the domain as the Registrant was invalid – in this case the ‘owner’ was de-registered 14 year ago!)
If a savvy competitor had realised this, they could have had the domain name cancelled and then gazumped it from my client any time in the last 14 years.
So you should also check the Registrant ID to ensure it is correct.
2. Renew your Domain ON TIME?
The renewal process for your domain is managed by your Registrar. They typically send out reminders and invoices to the ‘Billing’ contact prior to the renewal date. It is a good idea to have your domain on ‘auto-renew’ with either a credit card or paypal account.
If you don’t pay your renewal fee then the domain ‘lapses’. After 60 days (generally) it is bacl on the open market for anyone to purchase. These are often called ‘dropped’ domain names.
If someone else has already ‘backordered’ the domain, it would be immediately purchased by the backorder system on their behalf as soon as the domain lapsed. Recovery at this point is almost impossible.
Also, when you fail to pay your domain registration, it generally stops being ‘live’. Your registrar will stop providing information to the internet about your websites ‘domain name servers’ which is where your actual website files are to be found. Without this, a browser cannot display your website when someone clicks on a link or types in your URL.
A client recently phoned to ask if I had ‘done something’ to their website, as it was not showing up suddenly. A quick investigation showed their domain had lapsed because their credit card had expired. Fortunately this was quickly fixed and their website was able to be found again within a few hours.
You will need to be able to log into your Registrar to check this information at the source. This login information should be kept with your other asset access information, like bank account logins.
3. Renew your Hosting ON TIME
Your hosting is where your website files are stored. If your hosting account expires, or is blocked, then again, no-one will be able to visit your website as it will cease to existing ‘online’.
Whilst much less critical than your domain name, letting hosting expire is a time waster and could impact negatively on your SEO if the site is offline for an extended period.
You will need to know how to access your Web Hosting Account to ensure this your account information and payment details are up to date.
4. Know How to Access your Web Hosting Server
Accessing your web hosting server is not the same as accessing your web hosting account.
The web server is where your website files are actually stored.
This is also not the same accessing the website ‘backend’ or CMS – Content Management System – such as WordPress. Accessing your web sever is like accessing the hard drive on your computer.
This access, often through ‘cpanel’, also allows control of many of the server settings, including domain email accounts, File Transfer Protocol accounts and much more.
Whilst we don’t suggest you login and wander around your web server, as a business owner you should have access and be able to log in at any time.
If your website manager decides to retire leaving no forwarding address you will be able to provide login details to your next provider without having to go through lengthy or difficult forensic processes to regain access to the account.
5. Where are your website backups are stored?
Your website is just like the data in the rest of your business. If something happened to it, you need to be able to retrieve a backup and keep going.
Many hosting companies and even wordpress itself will create backups automatically. But too often these are stored on the same server as your website.
You should always have an ‘off-sit’ backup of any critical data to your business. Your website qualifies as ‘critical data’ as it would take considerable time and effort to replicate your website if the hosting server had a complete crash, say from a malicious hacker or virus. No, I’ve never heard of it happening. But then my house hasn’t burn down either but I still pay my insurance.
You should know where your website backups are held and how often the site is backed up. We provide regular backups to client accessible folders in Dropbox.
We are moving progressively online in many aspects of our personal and business lives.
Consequently, digital assets are becoming a valuable component of many businesses. Domain names, websites (the actual files) , email address and logins are assets we need to look after. We need to ensure that domain names are owned by the right person or entity, and include them in our business planning.
If you would like Click Here Web Design to look after your domain names, hosting, websites or SEO you can book in for a chat here.