Do You Really Own Your Website? The Truth Might Surprise You

“Read the fine print” is a popular idiom for a reason.

To know the terms of your veterinary practice’s website contract with a marketing provider, you absolutely need to read the fine print (and read it again a few times for good measure).

A lot of veterinary practices end up in one-sided contracts that leave virtually all their website assets in the hands of the company that built the website. In other words, these practices don’t actually own their websites. And if they want to transfer over to another marketing firm, they might have to build an entirely new website from the ground up or pay a hefty sum to try and take back whatever assets they can to start over.

Even more painful is the loss of all the website data that was accumulated over the years. You won’t be getting that back, and it’s going to take some time to accrue new data to help you grow your online presence and your practice.

This doesn’t have to be you. You can avoid getting scammed and enter into a contract that serves your veterinary practice as well as it serves the firm you’re working with.

Below, you’ll find out what website ownership really means, which assets of your website you should own, and the consequences of not owning those assets.


What Does Website Ownership Really Mean?

Just because you have a website for your veterinary practice doesn’t mean you truly own it. Your contract with your website/marketing provider should have all the information you need to know where you stand on the matter of ownership. The issue with websites is that they are not the same as tangible things that can be bought and owned, like a computer or a therapeutic laser.

Your veterinary website depends on a few things in order to exist and operate. First, it needs hosting, which can be provided by a company like GoDaddy or Bluehost. You pay your hosting provider to host your website on a server. If GoDaddy’s website goes down for any reason, your website will also go down. A reliable internet connection is also vital. Additionally, you need to purchase a domain name for your website, and you have to submit a yearly payment to hold onto the rights to that domain name. If you stop paying, then your domain no longer belongs to you.

Another issue is that from a copyright standpoint, whoever developed and created your veterinary website is the legal owner. That includes the content and design.

Are There Any Parts of My Website I Can Own?

You absolutely can (and should) own several crucial parts of your website, which should be laid out in your contract:

  • Photos
  • Design
  • Copy/content
  • Logo
  • Domain

While you can’t technically own the following assets, you can still exercise a certain level of control over them:

  • Your website’s content management system (WordPress is one such example)
  • The source code files of your website

What Happens if I Don’t Own My Content, Logo, Design, & Domain?

Should your vet practice ever make the decision to cancel your website contract and work with a completely different website and marketing provider, you could face a few major hurdles in the process.

Here are some of the problems your practice and website might face after ending a contract.

  • You Could Have Duplicate Content on Your Website

    An unpleasant truth is that some website providers will use duplicate content on not just a couple of sites, but virtually all of them! Duplicate content is bad for your SEO, because Google will penalize it and make your website fall in the Google search rankings. Google rewards websites that use original, high-quality content optimized for local and organic search. If it encounters 2 or more websites with the exact same content, in will not know which website or page is the original, and which is the duplicate. This, in turn, causes confusion on the part of the search engine.

    Another significant issue is plagiarism. If your website’s content was copied word for word from another website, you could run into legal issues. Overall, duplicate content reflects poorly on your website and your practice!

  • You Might Lose Everything

    It’s understandable to want to save money where you can, but with marketing, it can end up costing you in the long run. Some website providers offer their services at a temptingly low price, and as a result, leave their clients empty-handed when the client decides to end their contract and try to take their website assets with them. Some companies will hoard everything and make it extremely difficult for their clients to retrieve any assets such as custom photos and copy. For many businesses that wind up in these situations, it’s sometimes easier (though still not ideal) to start from scratch with a completely new website.

  • You Might Be Unable to Get Maintenance Done on Your Current Site with a Different Provider

    InTouch has lots of experience working with veterinary practices that have ended their contracts and switched over to our team for website hosting and maintenance services. However, there have been instances where our team was unable to proceed with any work, because the client did not have legal ownership of their design and other key assets. If you don’t own your website’s content, we can’t touch it, and your website will remain out of date.


Read the Fine Print of Your Contract, then Read It Again

Contracts can be easily taken for granted. As a busy practice owner or manager, you’re probably wearing many hats and being pulled in all directions to help keep your practice running. You’re distracted and maybe a little stressed. Regardless, know that your veterinary website is essential to the success and growth of your business. Entering into a contract that favors the website provider over your practice can very well harm your business. Be absolutely sure that you own all the crucial assets for your website and have maximum control over your source code files and content management.

When you have the highest degree of ownership and control over your website assets, you have more freedom to change your website to serve your clients better and meet the needs of your business. Regardless of the types of changes you make, knowing it belongs to you will give you invaluable peace of mind.

If you want to know more about owning a website and the various assets that make it uniquely yours, give InTouch a call today at (800) 493-9003!