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Who owns your website?

Who owns your website?Some brokers have found that they don’t actually own their website or its content

We’ve met a number of brokers interested in the Quotall insurance system who already have their own website.

Except they don’t.

When discussing the cost of buying Quotall’s consumer website for brokers, we’ve heard a number of times that ‘I could have 2 websites for that money’.

Except you can’t.

There's no such thing as a free lunchLike pretty much everything in life, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

On closer inspection we have found that the insurance broker concerned does not in fact own their website.  In many cases it is owned by the marketing agency or developer that built it.

Some brokers don’t own the right to the content on the website including text, images, video and so on.

In some cases the broker doesn’t even own their own domain (www.mybrokername.com).

It’s cheap, so what if I don’t own my website?

At Quotall we regard a company’s website as one of its assets – it’s their online shop if you will. When 70% of consumers are now starting their search for insurance online, why wouldn’t you?

Over the years a business will create additional revenue through its website by investing in content to drive more traffic to the site.  Gradually it will become an increasingly important channel for the business.

Why would you want someone else to own any part of this powerful, business-generating asset?  Why would you risk losing it all?

There are several problems that the unsuspecting broker will face.

If you decide you want to ‘move’ your website from your marketing agency or developer, or indeed need to move it because they are going out of business, you may find that you can’t – unless of course you pay for it.  And that can be expensive.

  • If you don’t own your company’s domain name, you’ll have to buy it, or buy a new one (hopefully something suitable is available)
  • If your agency or developer has built your site using proprietary or specialist software, you may find that it is almost impossible to get your website moved.  In this case you’ll need to get it rebuilt on another platform
  • If you want to add or change content on your site you will probably be charged for each and every page.  In many instances what you will be buying is content that appears on hundreds of other websites
  • If you want to update the layout of your website you will be charged extra
  • If you want to host your website with a new hosting provider you will be charged

In fact, pretty much anything you want to do with your ‘rented’ website will attract a charge which can make owning a ‘cheap’ website really expensive.

If, however, you own your site you will be able to do these things for yourself, for free, or have access to a broad range of people and businesses that could do it for you cost-effectively.

Beware of cheap ‘website content providers’Beware of cheap ‘website content providers’

We have also come across companies selling ‘content packages’ to insurance brokers.  They promise access to huge amounts of content for a fixed period and/or priced contract.

If you check the small print you will find that you don’t actually own the content – you’re just renting it.  And the same content is being made available to every other insurance broker.

Worse, at least from a digital perspective, is that the content isn’t designed for electronic distribution. It’s not SEO optimised, so will perform poorly in web searches. Furthermore, the suppliers are unlikely to provide Social Media engagement ideas or suggestions around content redistribution and maximisation.

Don't go any further until you have answers to these questionsSo, what should you look out for?

First and foremost, you should own your website outright once you’ve paid to have it built.  You should never have to worry about losing your website and wasting your time and money.

Ask your existing or any new website (or content) provider these four questions, and you won’t go far wrong.

1. Who owns the website domain?

Your domain name is critical for branding your business. It should appear in all of your marketing materials and brochures.  In addition to this, the age of your domain can influence where your website ranks on Google. The domain name should be one of your assets and be completely owned and controlled by you.

If you already have a domain name, you can check the ownership by visiting Whois and entering the domain name for your business. If you are not listed as the “Registrar” of the domain name, then you may have a problem.

2. Do I own the design of my site?

Once you have paid for your website to be built, you should own the design, source code and files as well as graphical content (e.g. photo’s).  This should all be enshrined in your contract with your developer. If you don’t own the design, moving your website to a different company may be impossible, in which case you’re faced with having to have it re-built.

In some cases a developer may have used licensed code to help build your website.  In this case they must be able to grant you a perpetual license for the use of that code.

3. Who owns the content on my site?

Your website content is essential for creating the right image for your business. It should also be unique to your website to gain the most value in the Google rankings (see our post on why ‘Insurance e-commerce brokers need quality website content’).

The content you build over time forms a critical part of your website asset, its Google ranking, and the traffic it generates for your business.  So, when talking to anyone about the provision of content for your website, ensure that you will own it. If you don’t, and have to remove some – or all – of your content because a license has expired or some similar issue, it could have a significant, damaging impact on your search engine standing and therefore the traffic generated to your website.

4. Will it be easy for me to move my website in the future?

You need to ensure that your website is built on a common platform to common standards with common technology.  Examples of common platforms include Drupal, WordPress, Joomla and Umbraco.  Common technologies include PHP (Pre-Hypertext Processor), ASP (Active Server Pages), DotNet (Active Sever Pages dot Net) and Cold Fusion.

Using commonly available solutions will help ensure that, should you need to move your website, it will be easier to do. Don’t invest in a website that, ultimately, may need rebuilding from scratch.

Please note that if your website is built in .ASP or .ASP.NET, your hosting cost are going to be more expensive – something to consider when commissioning a new website.

If in doubt, contact us.

We appreciate that some of this may be complicated or indeed alarming.  If you wish to discuss any aspect of your website, or your options for having one built for you, please contact Greg Roche - he’ll be happy to help.

If you would like to find out more about Quotall’s insurance system for brokers, please feel free to contact us.

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