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You Do Own Your Website…Right?

Greetings from Inside the SEOigloo!
During the past year, I’ve become a fan of Anita Campbell’s writing over at Small Business Trends. A recent article prompts me to alert small business owners to the absolute necessity of avoiding any web developer whose contract states that the owner of your website is the developer, not you!
Unfortunately, my guess is that the majority of small business owners who don’t truly own their websites aren’t working with individual developers whose contracts spell out ownership rights. In such cases, reading the contract would make it simple to avoid a disastrous outcome by simply not entering into partnership with a greedy developer. My guess is that non-ownership heartache is most common in the small business world that revolves around the cheap template site from the big monster company. Time and again, potential clients have come to us for a redesign of their failing site, only to discover that they don’t own their own domain name, hosting or website design…the monster provider does.
The outcome is that the small business owner has to burn their old website to the ground and start out from scratch with a new domain name. If the business has spent years at the same domain, however poorly the business may be doing, losing the company domain is generally nothing short of a nightmare.
So, certainly, don’t enter into contracts with a small development firm that intends to own your website. But, more importantly, really think twice before taking the low up-front cost, high long-term risk that goes hand in hand with so many of the template-based monster companies. Get it in writing, up front, that you own complete rights to your domain and website design before you sign anything.