Who owns your domain?

| Best Practice, Client, Supplier, Domain Names

This is an experience a client related to us from late last year.

After being sold on the value proposition of outsourcing design and development to India our client contacted a very friendly sales rep via an unsolicited email they received. After doing some basic due diligence they agreed to have their website developed by the aforementioned company. As is customary the project also included the acquisition of a .com domain name and a hosting account.

The project went pretty much to plan though the client noted that there was a small increase in the final bill and the timeline did bloat by a couple of weeks. However, on launch he did have a site that he was relatively happy with, for which he paid about AU$2000.

Three years went by and his business prospered.

One day he received a call from a prospect who tried to visit his site but found it unavailable. Naturally he rang this web company who politely informed him that his domain name had expired and that it needed to be renewed. Relieved he said “Great let’s get it renewed. How much will it be?” The reply he got certainly did not make his day.

“$10,000…” was the reply.

Unbeknown to him the company had registered the domain in their name and were presumably waiting to pounce on a successful company with a strong cash flow.

In summary, If you instruct your web company to purchase domains for you ensure they use your details as the registering entity and ALWAYS take a regular back-up of any development undertaken.

Yes Virginia, you should read the contract

| Horror Stories, Client, Contracts

Our web development company was recently engaged by a prominent company in the Mining Industry. During the initial consultation meeting the client began to explain the difficulties they were having in moving from their existing provider.

They had spent the last year battling to get their website to a state that matched the initial brief and design specifications. The budget had blown out from $10k to over $24k with some key functionality still missing. Obviously unhappy with the situation the management team decided to make the move to a new provider. That’s when the real nightmare began.

During the development the client had questioned the (frankly huge) developer credit in the site’s footer.

It comprised the developer’s address, three separate keyword heavy links, a company logo AND a 10 word strapline. The developer, when questioned, stated that it was an industry standard and that it would be very poor form of the client to ask for it to be removed. Not only was it included in the footer on every page but also in the email that was automatically sent to customers making an enquiry via the form on the website.

When the client asked for details on how to migrate the site to another hosting account the agency responded in saying that the site was under license and not actually owned by the client, despite the $25K spent on development to date. The web company quoted their original contract; "All code and design remains the property of XYZ Pty Ltd." It was at this stage passwords were changed and access to the server denied.

In the meeting we explained that without access to the hosting account we were unable to make any changes. The client has since returned to that web company and continued to pay additional changes.

Still not ranking

| Common Problems, Client, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

I checked on Google this morning, and we’re still not #1!

One of the more dreaded things to hear when you’re in the SEO game. Mostly because a good percentage of the time, it can feel like your business, your livelihood, is at the whims of nerf-basketball playing nerds in Mountainview, California (home of the almighty Google).

There are always reasons though, and in this particular case I looked at the most obvious reason.

I only started on the project last week mate.  Give it 3 months, at least, before you can start expecting some results.

He was placated with that, temporarily.  I say “temporarily” because it was no more than 4 weeks later that I got the exact same phone call.  No email, no replies to my repeated requests to get the content changes I’d made approved.  Nope, just another phone call where he’s pissed off and expecting me to cowtow.

I keep checking on Google and we’re still not coming up!”  Fuming.

Despite explaining the intricacies of how Google goes out, crawls his website, indexes the content and then decides what searches it should show up for, he still had yet to approve the changes I’d made to his content.  I’d even put it as simple as this, “Without that content, you won’t rank.

Then he decided he was smart enough to do this too.  Since I’d explained in the simplest terms how I’d made changes to his page titles, anchor text and page copy, and how that would affect how Google “sees” his site, he ignored my changes and made them himself on his homepage.  He’d seen it done on a competitor’s site, you see, so he did that too.  He put 37 keywords in his home page <title> tag, and he was proud of himself.

2 weeks after that, another phone call.  Yep, fuming.

I explained that he’d paid me to do a job, I had done it under the caveat that I would be given the room to do certain things, changing the content on his website being one of them.  I said, “Take your content off, NOW.  Put mine up, NOW.  Wait 6 more weeks.  THEN check Google every day.  Until then, leave me alone.

He didn’t like hearing that, but he did it.  And he left me alone.  And he ranked well after 3 months, I checked, even though we weren’t friends anymore. -JE

Number One in Google

| Common Problems, Client, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

“I don’t know a lot about the whole SEO thing, but I do know that a #1 spot on the Google will bring me heaps of business.”

I was told that by a prospective client once.  The entire reason he is referred to as “prospective” is because he never actually became a client.  He wanted to be #1 on Google and didn’t care how.  I told him that it’s not that simple.  I listed reasons.

  • Any cowboy can get you #1 for an irrelevant or underused phrase.
  • NOBODY can guarantee any ranking of any sort unless their name is “Google”.
  • What you want is targeted traffic.  You want to show up on the first page in searches that will bring visitors to your website and spend their money with you.
  • You also want to be able to track your online successes/failures in regards to this.

He didn’t like hearing any of that.  He wanted to hear what he’d been told that he wanted to hear by the industry itself, “Sit back, relax, give us your money and we’ll get you top rankings and lots of traffic.”

The previous statement isn’t what works best, but it’s a self-perpetuating fallacy that helps people make more money off of others while doing less work.  This is one of the hallmarks of the SEO industry, because so few truly understand it and so many desperately need it.  Which, if you think about the Course of Human History, is when the shysters capitalise on the situation the most.

The only defence against the continuing misinformation and rampant mystery of the SEO/SEM world is education.  The prospective clients out there are every bit as responsible for obtaining this education as the vendors whose services they seek.

Of course not everyone is perceptive to such education, as was the case with this particular prospective client, but that doesn’t mean we should ever stop trying. -JE