Your Website Is Yours—Make Sure You Own It
December 12th, 2017 by
Imagine you open your dream business with the perfect name, perfect location, great employees at every level, and a great building to host your perfect products. To finish off the grand opening, you hire an outside contractor to do some work for you and you give them all of your keys and tell them to hold on to them even after the work is done and you never ask for them back. This sounds like a silly mistake that is complete hyperbole that no business owner would ever commit. But sadly, this happens every single day when business owners don’t secure their credentials after outsourcing for website creation. Regardless of whether this action was malicious, careless, or just protocol, you stand to lose a lot and have a giant headache if you don’t have proper control of your website and online presence.
6 questions to ask your website provider
If your site has yet to launch and you’re reading this right now, you need to take proactive measures to ensure that you have complete control of your website. When a company creates a website for you, they like to use the companies and resources that they like to use. The glitz and glamor of a slick and pretty website can quickly make a business owner forget to ask for administrative access to their own property. Before signing a contract to have a website created for you, make sure you ask the right questions.
1. Who is hosting my site?
There are plenty of hosts across the internet, and knowing which one hosts your site is vital if you need to wrest control of your intellectual property. If you forget which one hosts your site, you can search Domaintools, a free domain lookup resource that can tell you which company hosts your domain, unless you opted to pay to have your information hidden. You should also ensure that your email has its own account and is the primary owner of the hosting service. Even if you pay the contractor to complete the necessary setup for you, there is a chance that they’ll add your site to their list of websites that they own. If your relationship fractures, you’re at their mercy. If the contractor chooses not to release your domain, you might have to find a new domain and site.
2. What is my server login information?
Though this may not be relevant to you directly, if you do decide to use a different company for implementing website content, there is a 100% chance that they will at least request this information. Our web developers here at Search Influence, such as myself, utilize this information to create a staging environment for your website. That way we can add all of our changes without altering the live site or disrupting the flow of your website while we work on it. If you don’t have this information but you are the primary owner of your domain and hosting service, you can contact them to receive this information or retrieve it from the backend.
3. What is my CMS login?
Please—I’m actually begging, please do not sign a contract to purchase a website and not have a login created for yourself where you are the primary owner. With ownership of the CMS, you can easily give another web developer the necessary permissions they need to make any edits to your website. Some website creators may be reluctant to hand this information out or give you the highest level of access since there is the potential to completely take a site down permanently if the user changes some files that are integral for the site to run. Your CMS login may also be called your WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, or Squarespace login.
4. Do I own my domain name?
With easy-to-use services such as Namecheap, it is easier than ever to own your own domain even if you don’t plan on building the website yourself. The purchaser of the domain can add it to any profile they so choose. If you don’t have ownership of whatever account the new domain name is attached to, you don’t own your website.
Knowing the potential of how much popular website names can go for, someone that owns your domain can take as much of your money as you’re willing to give them to get it back. Not only that, the likelihood of legal recourse being in your favor is close to none unless you can somehow find a loophole in the contract that is probably ironclad.
5. Do I own my social media profiles?
While this doesn’t relate directly to your website itself, this is still in the same vein. Most social media platforms will either have a way to add users as managers on your account, or the company that will handle your online reputation management will have a third party platform that they use to add content to your favorite social media platforms. Facebook, for example, will allow you to add managers to your business account, and managers can write and schedule posts in your steed. As far as social media management platforms are concerned, your social media company will be required to log in, but once will be sufficient unless you decide to change your password. This is very important because the process of re-claiming a social media profile is a very long and drawn out process requiring many different steps of verification. Not my idea of a good time if you ask me.
6. What about my Google Analytics account?
Just like everything else outlined here, you will also need to have control of your Google Analytics account. In case you don’t have any tracking on your site, Google Analytics is the popular service offered by Google that allows you to track site visits and a multitude of other metrics. The first rule of Google Analytics is once your historical data is gone, it’s gone forever. If you request Google Analytics to be added to your site for the first time, create the account yourself and then add other users as administrators to take care of the rest. Lunametrics gives a great run down of different views in Google Analytics. At the very least, you should have your own view with completely untouched data, and it should be labeled as such before any marketing company tinkers around with your views.
Even if you’re past the point of setup, all of these outlined items are necessary to maintain complete control of your website and your online branding. Without it, you could get locked out of your business’ entire online personality. It doesn’t even have to be anything malicious either. Your best friend who is a developer could go on vacation in the Appalachian Mountains and not have access to email. Your nephew who runs your Google Analytics account can get a new phone number and lose access to the Google account and have to wait however long Google decides to verify his identity before you can see the results of your latest paid search campaign.
If this seems like a huge undertaking, our talented experts at Search Influence have everything you need to get launched properly. In addition to our web development team that is dedicated to the technical performance of your website, every client at Search Influence is assigned a dedicated Account Manager to help you strategize, and even keep your website’s credentials in order. Contact us and request a free digital marketing analysis today.