If your answer is yes, you likely bought your domain name from a company like GoDaddy or Register.com. Way to go! Just make sure you remember to renew it every year.
If your answer is I think so or I have no idea, keep on reading – having control of your domain name is as important as paying your phone bill.
Before we get too far, we need a little bit of dry technical talk. Let’s get to it.
Your Domain Name Is Important to Your Business
Your domain is your business’ address on the web. It’s like a street sign that directs people to your website. The longer your domain has been around, and the more people trust it, the better you’ll fare in local search rankings.
When you bought your current website, the web company you hired may have bought the domain name for you as part of their website package. That’s great, and it’s what most web companies do. But odds are the web company now owns your domain.
Not being the owner of your domain name can pose a problem if you are thinking about leaving your current web company. If you don’t have access to your domain name, you can’t change your website hosting or launch your new website.
Find Out Who Controls Your Domain Name
The good news is you can figure out who controls your domain thanks to something called a WHOIS lookup. A WHOIS lookup on will show you the official registrant (owner) of your website’s domain with their contact information.
The registrant email address is important because this is the email address that receives any password reset emails. It also receives any formal requests to transfer the domain name to another owner. Whoever controls the listed registrant email address holds the keys to your castle.
Third-party privacy companies will sometimes protect a domain name’s contact information. If this is the case, you won’t be able to see the registrant’s name. When you call the listed registrant phone number, or email the registrant email address, you’ll be able to get in contact with the actual owner. Of course, there’s no guarantee they will get back to you.
Get Ownership of Your Domain Name
If you discover you’re NOT the registrant of the domain, it’s time to change that. All domains can undergo a transfer. Here’s what you do:
Step 1: Call or email the registrant listed in the WHOIS Lookup.
Explain that you’re the business owner and that you want to transfer the domain name to another provider. The registrant will do one of two things:
- The registrant will either unlock the domain name and provide you with a transfer authorization code or,
- They will give you login credentials to access your domain name through the current domain provider.
Step 2: Transfer the domain name.
Once you receive the transfer code, you can transfer the domain name to your own account in a service like GoDaddy. GoDaddy, or whichever domain provider you prefer, will charge you for the transfer.
Step 3: You’re done!
Congratulations! The domain name is yours. Be sure to set your domain to auto-renew and you’ll be set to go.
Now it’s time for you to track down the registrant on your company’s domain name. Don’t forget, it all starts with a WHOIS lookup and a nice helping of patience.