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Who Owns Your Domain?

Over the past 20 years, I’ve seen my share of poor website decisions. One of those decisions stands high above the others. I am not talking about music that automatically starts playing or scrolling marquee text — I am talking about domain ownership.

I know exactly how it happens.

A vendor needs to launch a new website, a client needs DNS records added, or the vender only knows how to launch a website using the GoDaddy admin.

Either way, the result is the same.

Clients are asked if they could transfer their domain so that X, Y, and Z can be done. Naturally, without fully understanding the implications, the domain is transferred. After all, the client just needs their website working; and who can blame them.

Never Transfer Your Domain

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Never transfer your domain to a vendor.

Maybe a better way to say it would be, “always maintain ownership and control of the account used for your domain name.”

A vendor never needs to have your domain name transferred to them. Ever.

Transferring ownership of your organization’s domain name so a vendor can service your website, is like signing over the title to your home so a contractor can remodel your kitchen.

You wouldn’t dream of doing that.

But, yet I have run into this far too many times. Helping a client navigate the re-acquisition of their domain ownership feels like I am diffusing a bomb; knowing full-well that we are at the mercy of the legal owner of the domain name until the transfer is complete.

If a vendor can’t serve you without transferring your domain to them, then you don’t want them working on your website.

What to Share

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Now that some of you are thoroughly nervous about giving any kind of access to your domain name, let’s talk about some safe ways you can share access with a vendor without the risk of losing ownership.

Add User

Some domain registrars give you the option to “add a user” to your account. What this will allow you to do is give a vendor special access to your account and/or domain names. They can be given particular permission to do all of the technical things they want, without the risk of domain name ownership being compromised or payment information being tampered with.

Use Cloudflare

Valet loves Cloudflare! Not only does it give you a lot of cool features, but it can also make this technical plate of spaghetti a whole lot easier to manage. By using Cloudflare, you can move your DNS records off of your registrar, giving your vendor all of the access they need, without any of the risks of your domain name ownership being compromised. You can use your vendor’s Cloudflare account, share your own Cloudflare account, or use Cloudflare’s cool “Member” feature.

Just Ask Valet

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When it comes to your website, the domain name is one of the most valuable aspects. Your domain name is part of your brand, it may be your trademark, and at the very least, it has all of your SEO tied to it.

Domains, registrars, DNS records, and NS records can get overwhelming and can keep you from focusing on your business. At the same time, you have to make good decisions and need to know that you can trust and rely on your website professionals.

So, if you’re ever in doubt, just ask Valet.

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