What You Need to Know, and Why It’s Important
A serious issue that many businesses and business owners face is being tied up in a contract that does not grant them full ownership over their website. This prevents the business owner from being able to access their website files when they’re looking to transfer to a new marketing provider. Either you have to pay for the privilege of accessing what you thought were your assets, or you’re completely stone-walled by the provider. Even worse, the data you’ve been collecting over the years from your website will vanish, so you’ll have to start from scratch with your digital marketing.
If you find yourself in this situation, you might feel like you’ve been scammed. Or, you might have missed the fine print in your contract.
Here, we clarify what it means for you to actually “own” your website, what assets your business should own, and what you need to watch out for if you’re moving to a new marketing provider.
What Does It Mean to Own My Website?
Having a website is not the same as owning it. Here’s why.
First, you need to look at your contract with your current marketing provider. If it doesn’t explicitly state that you own your website, then you don’t own it. Owning a website is a somewhat murky concept, because you can’t own a website like you own a TV or a Jeep.
In order to exist and function, your website relies on a hosting provider like HostGator, GoDaddy, or Bluehost. If the hosting provider’s website goes down, then your website will go down with it. Also, your website depends on an internet connection in order to run and do its job. You do not technically own your domain name either, because you need to pay an annual fee to maintain the rights to it. Basically, you own your domain up until you stop paying for it.
According to copyright law, your website’s creator is also the legal owner of the website’s overall design and all its content.
What Parts of My Website Should I Own?
A website consists of different parts that all work together to make it a well-functioning whole.
Your contract with your website designer/marketing provider should include clauses that give you ownership of the following assets.
- Domain name
There are some aspects of your dental website that you cannot own, but you should have some degree of control over:
- Choosing a content management system (CMS) for your website
- Your website’s source code files
What Happens if I Don’t Own These Assets?
If you don’t own the assets listed above, you can run into some problems, especially if you decide to cancel your contract with your current provider and transfer over to another one.
Here are some examples of what you might be dealing with if you don’t own the assets listed above:
Your Website Might Have Duplicate Content, Which Harms Your SEO
If your website’s copy doesn’t belong to you, you could be dealing with duplicate content. Duplicate content is, as you can probably guess, content that has been duplicated and is being used on other websites, or other parts of your website. Duplicate content is penalized by Google, which hurts your SEO and makes it harder for people to find your website.
Don’t forget plagiarism. Some marketing providers have the audacity to use duplicate content across multiple websites with no regard for plagiarism or SEO. These providers should never be trusted. Choose wisely!
Your Provider Gets to Keep Everything
Dental practices, like any other business, need to make a profit, and may choose to look for good deals on marketing to avoid spending too much. However, if a deal sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Some website and marketing providers will promise the world and deliver subpar service while maintaining ownership of all your digital assets. If you decide to cancel your contract, you’ll be left empty-handed, and will need to build a whole new website from scratch.
Your New Provider Won’t Be Able to Do Work on Your Current Website
Here at InTouch, we’ve had our share of clients who transfer their website over to us, only for our team to not be able to make edits to the content or do any other maintenance work. Unless you own the content of your website, our team’s hands are tied, and you won’t be able to make the changes you want to your website.
Always Read the Fine Print of Your Website Contract
Your website is one of the most important tools for marketing your dental practice and supporting your brand identity. You should make absolutely certain you own as much of your website as possible.
While there are aspects of your website you cannot 100% own, such as your domain name and CMS, you can still maintain some control over them.
Having the ability to change and update your website is vital in the ever-evolving digital space. Your website should be a living entity. Change comes in many forms—design, coding, content, website architecture, SEO strategy, etc. You need to build equity in your online asset and evolve it as necessary in order to stand out!