Web Domains: Do You Own Yours?


Domains, or domain names, are an integral part of business branding, but many people don’t understand why they matter. Many business owners don’t even know who owns their domain. In this post we’ll explain why domain names matter, why it matters who owns your domain, and what to do if you don’t own yours.

Why Domain Names Matter

Owning your own domain name is an important part of your brand. Owning the brand-consistent domain name for your website, email and other aspects of your online presence, establishes credibility in the eyes of potential customers. It also makes your business easier to find and remember.

Of course, domain names aren’t just about people finding you on Google: what happens when they find you matters too. Studies indicate that click through rates are improved when using branded domains. This means that when people find your branded domain, they are more likely to take the actions you want them to take, whether it’s clicking on your online ad, or responding to your email.

Who Owns Your Domain?

If you own your domain name, it’s yours to do with as you please. If someone else owns it, you’re building a very important aspect of your business – your website and online presence – on rented land.

When someone else owns your domain, they can control it. They can charge you money to buy it back from them, and control how it is used. People called domain speculators actually buy domain names and sell them as “properties” just like real estate. If your desired domain name is deemed marketable, they may be looking to own it. If they succeed, they can charge an exorbitant fee for you to buy your own domain name back from them.

Web hosting firms and graphic design firms, often buy domains on behalf of their clients. This is fine, but you need to make sure that you are the owner, not the design firm. These firms sometimes maintain ownership of client domains as a way to discourage you from taking your business elsewhere. They may even charge a fee to turn over the ownership rights and otherwise obstruct your efforts if you leave their firm.

Don’t let this happen to you.

Find Out Who Owns Your Domain

There is an easy way to find out if you own your own domain name or not. Enter your domain into the WHOIS database (you can access it from the GoDaddy website).  The person or entity listed as the registrant is the one who owns the domain. You may be listed as a different type of contact but you only own it if you are listed as the registrant.

Did your name come up as the registrant? Great! You own your domain.

Your hosting firm or graphic designer may own the domain, or the information may have been entered as a private listing to protect your privacy. If your hosting firm or designer owns the domain, ask them to transfer that ownership to you. Do this while you are still a client – they are more likely to cooperate without charging for the service.

If the domain owner is not cooperative, you may have legal recourse through the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Uniform Domain Name Resolution Policy. Domain names related to a trademarked name are more likely to be protected. However, UDNR resolutions can be very expensive. The best course of action is to avoid this situation by making sure you always own your domain.

Contact Tolar Systems

Do you have questions about domains? If you’re still unsure if you own your domain, or if you’ve discovered that you aren’t listed as the registrant and you need help, please contact us today.