Having a website for your business is essential in today’s market. Knowing how to keep your site up to date is only part of the responsibilities that come along with your domain name.
VirginiaUsedCarDealers.com has experienced an increase in overall traffic recently along with many of our car dealer sites forcing us to move all car sales related sites to new servers. In the process, JTZ Enterprise had to relocate hundreds of websites and edit their name servers. Here in lies the first pitfall I want to warn all site owners about. For many of our clients, this was no problem. However, we had to contact those dealers who asked us to take over their site from other webmasters in order to retrieve the login information for their domain’s control panel. Some of our clients have felt they “own” their domain address forever, yet that is not the case. The domains are purchased for one or more years at a time through companies called Registrars. Examples of such companies would include Network Solutions and GoDaddy. There are hundreds more to choose from but if you are going to register a domain on your own these are the two companies you should stick with if you do not know a lot about registering domains.
When you register it you usually pay for 1 to 10 years. You also give your contact information and e-mail address so they can send you a bill when it is time to renew the domain(s). It is important to verify the ownership of your domain name and the contact information listed is accurate. If they send a bill to an old e-mail address, you do not get it. If you do not pay it, one morning you wake up and find your domain has expired and may even be sold already!
During this recent transfer we had one client who had registered their domain on their own but had not kept up their e-mail address and they were not aware their domain was less than a week from getting turned off. We had another client who did not realize they were paying their registrar (one of the unscrupulous ones) every month. First, domains usually go for an annual basis, not monthly. However, it got worse! About three months earlier the credit card on file expired. The Registrar sent a bill to an expired e-mail address. Then, turned it over for collection. Because they still had the domain registered through this other company they had to pay the 3 months due in order to gain control of their domain. Verifying your domain registration is as simple as going to the WHOIS links at either of the registrars’ home pages I mentioned earlier and typing in your domain name.
Another problem we have seen recently is website hijacking. A case in point just happened to a new client of ours. We had a John Deere dealership with three locations in Ohio and Kentucky call asking us to take over their existing website. Until recently, they had a person handling their website in house. But, it was time for that employee to move on and JTZ Enterprise was going to take over. For two weeks, we worked on re-designing the site and when it was time to move their domains to our servers, the ex-employee stopped cooperating. In fact, he sabotaged the both of the company’s websites by replacing their content with some content of his own! Fortunately for our client, he only put up some silly smiley faces, statements and cartoon characters. That still landed him in jail that same day and he could not have been anymore cooperative after that! This could have all been avoided if the dealership had registered their domain in their name and not their employee’s name.
A similar situation happened to many car dealers in the Tidewater area. A large newspaper company was also assisting several dealerships with their websites. But, when that company made some changes in their service providers as well as changes in their marketing direction, all these dealers woke up to a different website. How would you like it if you went to your website’s inventory page and found your competitors advertising in banner ads located at the top of YOUR page? When the dealers inquired about this they were told the hosting partner had changed and there was nothing they could do about it. The only advise one dealer was given was if you cannot beat them, join them! He was given a rate chart on what it takes to have similar banner ads on some of his competitors’ sites. JTZ Enterprise now has an even stronger presence as a hosting company amongst car dealers in the Tidewater area because many of these affected dealers elected to move their websites to a place where it could advertise their business and only their business.
There are companies out there who make good partners in helping you keep your online inventory up to date. It is just as important for you to choose a good partner for all your hosting and website design needs. JTZ Enterprise has been hosting car dealer sites since 1997. We have proudly hosted VIADA’s websites since 2002 and today we are responsible for websites belonging to car dealers from Maryland to Florida and from the Carolinas to Ohio. If it is time to make a move with your website responsibilities, give us a call today!