Posted by: realestatewebtrainer | January 31, 2011

Silence can Hurt – You Must Own your Domain

At one point or another you may be asked to step up and stand for your values; this does not mean that you must antagonize those you disagree with – it means that if it is wrong and you see it as damaging you MUST say something…

The issue I shall discuss here has been covered by me before; and since I find it abhorrent and still in practice I shall say something about it again…

Real Estate Website Vendors who do not disclose that they will setup a web domain for you that you do NOT own should be ashamed of themselves!!!


in other words – Make sure you own your Domain Name if you are Broker or an Agent!!!

Today, a broker asked me to say nothing about a vendor, and I can understand that, some marketing relationships need to be nurtured by silence. But when the topic of domain ownership or similar bad practices comes up I shall NOT be silenced.  A few weeks back, a very dynamic broker called me and wanted to discuss whether I build websites, and of course I told her no and then I inquired why she asked. She told me that she had 2 websites, one built by her “cousin Vinnie” – and the other, the subject of this blog, built by a major expensive website vendor.

As we delved into her Broker Website Needs something emerged and it was the fact that she did not own her domain; she has had it for over 5 years at a monthly fee of $2,500 – that’s over $150,000 paid to this vendor and she does not even own her domain. To her all she needed to do is get a new domain and start over… so why is this a problem?

1. The SEO Geeks already know the answer – let’s try to put in other ingredients into this mix.

2. Domains that have been active for a number of years build Domain Authority and are easier to Optimize and rank organically than brand new domains. Yes her current ranking is dismal, even after 5 years, but this domain has an index, a weak one at that, but still a faint pulse that can be made stronger with the proper container.

3. With this model the Broker is held hostage towards working with that Web Vendor – highly unethical. A domain is akin to a company name and ought to be owned by its rightful owner. This practice must stop immediately and domain ownership must be returned to their rightful owner – the web vendor should be in the business offering great service and web tools that help the Brokers work seamlessly with their agents and internet customers.

4. Think about all the marketing, signs, blogs, emails, and links that you have been shared over the years using this domain… all will be gone once the broker desires to switch to another Vendor – worse the vendor will sell the service to your competition and they will have a leg up on you instantly. You cannot afford to rebrand your brokerage with a new website every few years – that is madness.

In fact: One of the most important venues of marketing is the Internet and therefore your domain name is part of your identity.PS: The monthly cost has nothing to do with what is right and wrong in domain ownership – if you are a Web Vendor and you charge $50 a month for your services this applies to you as well.

PPS: This Broker is not looking to leave this vendor but the practice is still wrong.

What can Brokers do if they find themselves in this situation?

1. Check to see if you own your domain – go to: whois.GoDaddy.com.

2. Some of you will admit that you were told that you will not own your domain and even signed a contract that says so – it does not matter. They did not divulge to you the consequences of NOT owning your domain; this is a deceptive practice that some Web Vendors engage in; they reduce their payments on Pay per Clicks and make more marketing dollars from you. These Web Vendors know better and should be shamed into giving up this horrible practice. (There is more to this Marketing Trickery but it goes beyond the scope of this blog…)

3. First things first: Call your Web Vendor nicely and let them know they made a mistake – they ought to transfer your domain to your name. (Of course you and I know they did not make a mistake – but it is always best to start nice. They will brush you off, so be prepared for that. Don’t threaten to close your account; it’s not effective – you want to have an account in good standing…)

4. Escalate – keep asking for supervisors, and supervisors to supervisors – do not buy their story that these are their rules and everyone must abide by them. They are not; I know many who got their domain ownership back by being tenacious.

5. Escalate some more to your local Broker Colleagues, Regional Franchisees, National Brand, and all organizations you belong to. Yes they may not be able to help you but it is your job to let everyone know what happened to you and in the process shine a spotlight on this abhorrent practice. Remember: Your National Brand cares more about your Brokerage than the Web Vendor.

6. Write a blog and post it everywhere as well as share it on all your Social Media channels. Remember: They did not disclose to you the reason why they must own your domain – you made a decision based on trickery.Note: if you know a vendor who practices this Do ask them to defend it – I would love to hear why they feel they are the rightful owner of the domain.

7. Let the Web Vendor know that you will dispute the rightfulness of domain ownership with ICANN – http://www.icann.org/en/dispute-resolution/ ; this is a powerful organization.

8. Let them know you will submit complaints to the BBB, the FTC, and your State Attorney General. Remember: even if the practice is legal it is wrong – and if no one complaints it will continue to be legal.

9. All of these steps will shame the Web Vendor to hopefully stop this practice; you must remember these Vendors need access to big national Brands and if their members start demanding this practice to stop they will have to acquiesce.

I know that this article will catch me a lot of flack and many have asked me to not be so controversial, but the more I advance in my career the more I realize that I must speak up on certain issues. I love working with Web Vendors, in fact most of them do the right thing, and a handful of them are truly awesome – full of integrity and a desire to help Brokers have the best platform for their customers; you know who you are and I applaud you!!!

Happy Blogging :) – Key Yessaad, Real Estate Internet Strategist

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