So you’re looking to upgrade your website, hire an SEO company, or simply want to keep your property secured in your hands. Whatever the reason is, you likely came across an issue when reclaiming your domain name and website. But don’t worry, we’ll break down everything you need to know about how to get your website’s ownership back in your hands.
The Big “IF”
IF you bought a domain you own it, unless of course, you signed otherwise. Now, this is not legal advice, but almost all website agencies will clearly state that they own the domain or that you own the domain. At JCSURGE, we clearly state that the domain is property of the client. Even if we buy and or host their domain, if one of our customers requests a transfer we will comply.
However, if you bought via third party e.g., a marketing agency, you need to contact them to get clarification. If they tell you that you own the domain, great you can move forward. If you bought via an agency and they say that they own it, well… you’re going to have to talk/battle it out with them.
Identity Who Has Control of Your Website and Domain
This is an obvious point to most people, but there have been many times where a local business owner tells us they own the website but don’t own the domain or vice versa.
Start with your domain
Your domain is what your customers and prospects type in to find your business. It’s what Google uses to rank your business against your competitors. So above all, it’s the most important asset you have when it comes to your digital marketing.
Struggling to find the company that has your domain?
Let’s say you bought your domain many years ago but forgot the company you purchased it through.
Your first task is to head on over to ICANN’s Domain Lookup tool and punch your domain in.
Once you’ve done that, you should have something like the following
Under “Registrar Information” you will see the company that has your domain. This is the first step in reclaiming your website and domain.
The next step is to lookup that company. More likely than not, their website will be the first to appear on Google (ignore most of the advertisements as competitors tend to try and outrank each other for their brand names).
For instance, at JCSURGE, we used NAMECHEAP INC to buy our domain. Their website is https://www.namecheap.com/
Now you know who has control of your domain and the website that has your login details.
Getting your login details
Most of the time when we speak with a local business owner and find this information for them, they recall registering with that company.
The next step is to get your login details. For this you will need two things (at least): a username, and password.
The below are examples of what your usernames could be stored as:
- Domain name
- Email address
- User ID (GoDaddy uses this)
You’ll then have to recall or reset your password.
If you need to reset your password you will likely be sent an email, or text message as verification. This is common practice nowadays and almost all domain registrars require this.
What if I hired someone else to buy my website?
We had this issue once with a customer, actually several times, and it’s always a challenge. But you’re going to have to get ahold of that person or their team. By using the lookup tool mentioned above you can clearly state the company they bought the domain from.
For instance, you can write
We’re looking to gain control of the domain (domain). We see that it was registered with (domain company). Could you please guide us in the right direction so we can obtain ownership?”
This almost always works, even for us when we’re talking with a ‘competitor’ Most of the time the company will comply.
Stating the domain company/registrar usually gives the agency the impression that you know what you are talking about and you did your research. They won’t want to pick a fight with someone who is well educated. It also will ease the process since they may buy domains for various vendors and may not remember off the top of their head where they purchased your domain.
Transferring Your Website’s Content
Before beginning this process you’ll want to get a backup of your website. You can do this a number of ways. The first option is to ask your current provider to give you a backup of your current website. Most of the time they will be happy to give you a backup or at least give you FTP access so you or a developer can download the contents independently.
The most common way to do this yourself is to use an FTP (file-transfer-protocol) software like Filezilla. You can follow this tutorial to learn how to transfer website content.
Transferring Your Domain to Your Own Hands From Your Previous Provider
Please note that if your domain was set up within 60 days, you CANNOT transfer it. This is according to ICANN’s policy of domain transfer.
Once your previous web designer or marketing agency is willing to release the domain name into your custody, you’ll need to prepare a transfer.
Doing this is different from website to website. However here is the basic principle:
You’re going to have to request a transfer (most platforms like Namecheap and GoDaddy have their own in-depth articles on how to do this). To do this, contact your previous provider and their team, and ask them to ‘unlock’ your domain.
You will need to also request the domain authorization code from them in order to continue. This is a code that verifies the ownership of the domain. You will need it when you request a transfer.
Because there are so many domain registrar companies, it would take forever for us to walk you through each one and their steps. Here are the top 5 most common registrar’s and their domain transfer process.
You may choose to transfer the domain to a different company in which case you should always double-check with their policies and process.
Getting Your Website Hosted
The next step is to get your website on a hosting platform. While some companies may have a free hosting option available, many will require you to do a bit of technical setup with your domain, some will automatically host your website and provide you with a builder (e.g., Wix).
At JCSURGE we typically separate our domains from hosting companies. We don’t like to rely on one company too much. We use Hostinger to host our websites and Namecheap to manage our domains.
You can use a number of web hosting companies to host your website. If have a small website (fewer than 500 pages) then hosting it with a cheap option like Hostinger or even Namecheap is perfectly reasonable. You’ll likely do just fine with the cheapest available option.
Once you have your domain in your hands, whether you’re using Namecheap, GoDaddy, or any other registrar, you will want to point your domain’s nameservers to the address of your hosting provider. Different hosting companies will have different nameservers. Some will require 2, others will require you to enter up to 4. Check with your hosting company to find out exactly what nameservers you need to enter on your domain.
On your domain’s control panel, navigate to where your nameservers are located. Assuming you want to transfer your entire site’s nameserver management to your new hosting company, enter the details where appropriate.
Uploading and Unloading Your Website
If you have a backup file of your website, load it up using Filezilla, or hire a developer to do this task for you. It should take no more than a day for the majority of local business sites.
Looking to Get a New Website?
If you’re looking to get a new website for your local business consider hiring our SEO and Web Design team at JCSURGE. We provide local business owners with unbeatable search engine optimization and website redesign service. We’ll help you regain ownership of your website as we have done for many business owners all across the United States. We also provide Website Redesign and Revamping Services.
Contact us today for a free quote & video audit explaining the process.
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