Apr 302019

“Do we own our website?”
It seems like the answer to this question should be obvious, but we have consistently found that small business owners do need to ask this question. Unfortunately, if the website was built by a typical web design company, they may be surprised to find that the answer is “no”.

Case in Point: We recently worked with a client who was disappointed (even horrified!) to find that they did not own any of the text, photos, or illustrations on their websites.   Even worse, they found that the web design firm had snuck in its own advertising

To help others avoid this bad surprise, our geek team came up with a short list of questions every small business should ask their website designer:

4 Key Questions Every Company Should Ask About Website Ownership
Question #1: “Does our business own all the content (words and pictures) on our site?”
The answer to this question may be in the receipt for the design work.  However, unless the sales contract or Statement of Work (SOW) specifically states that website content and copyright ownership transfers to your company, the WEB DESIGNER usually retains ownership.
If you do not have a receipt, you should ask the firm that did your web design for a “copyright release” or similiar document attesting to your company’s ownership.

Question #2: “Is the content on our website unique?”
(or has it been used again and again for other companies on the web??)

Warning: If the answer to this question is no, your website may actually get a ranking penalty from Google and other search engines for duplicate content.

Question #3: “Is our website designed solely for our benefit?”
(or has it been designed to help other companies??)

Since your company is paying for your website, it should only benefit YOUR company, right?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is often no, and it comes down to:  Beware what is lurking in your footer.
Your website footer is the area at the very bottom of the website – this is often where typical website design firms “sneak” in hyperlinks for THEIR benefit, not yours.
                                                    Do You Own Your Website Footer - Marked
In the picture above, taken from an actual site, the web design firm snuck in advertisements for other websites, and created a back link to themselves!

At the least, these advertising links do not benefit your company.  At worst, links to other unrelated sites may even HURT your company’s carefully crafted brand image and lead to search engine ranking penalties.
WARNING: Be careful about removing unrelated links in your footer, because some unscrupulous web design companies actually have sales agreements, with buried fine text, that prohibit your company from removing these unrelated links!! (really!)

Question #4: “Do we have free access to our site to make corrections and updates?”
Some web designers charge extra to provide customers with access to their site, or require that customers pay them for making the necessary changes.  That sure doesn’t sound like something your company owns… (Thanks to Julia Lucas in the UK for this question!)

Bottom Line:
Web Geek Group clients OWN their websites: We create customized words and illustrations and purchase royalty-free images for each of our clients.  Each website is designed SOLELY for the benefit of that clients, and our clients get full access to their websites so that they can take over the ongoing management, if they so choose.

Please contact us today to learn more about how we can design a website that works for your small or mid-sized business: 888-333-4335