Who Owns Your Content (and Why Does it Matter)?

Darla Brown Learn

Who Owns Your Content (and Why Does it Matter)?

You may be thinking, “This shouldn’t be a question.” Assuming your website or app is your own, all the content that lives there is yours, too…right?

Not necessarily.

Some platforms or approaches to creating a website can rob you of the return you deserve for creating good content.
Here are two common examples of when you might not own your content.


We’ve worked with many companies over the years who have come to us with an urgent need to abandon their old website on a hard timeline.

The reason for this dilemma?

“Rental websites.”

Here’s what typically happens: a company approaches a business with an offer that seems too good to be true. They promise a very low cost website with a minimal monthly hosting and maintenance cost.

This solution might seem great, but more often than not, the provider is simply leasing the platform and design, and many times, they even own and retain the rights to your actual content.

They’ll often use phrases like “fully hosted solution,” or “turnkey website,” or “low-cost, do-it-yourself website.”

It sounds simple enough—and these sites can provide a working solution for some small businesses--but when it comes time to upgrade or move on, companies often find their hands tied when they realize they didn’t own their own website in the first place.

Companies that come to us with this problem are not only extremely frustrated, they’ve found that carrying their existing strategy forward is difficult and expensive, especially when they’ve already gotten some traction with their presence.


A subdomain is often used in inexpensive sites and some--what we’ll loosely term--“apps.”

(Pro tip: if your site does not live at your domain, it can be a real problem.)

For example, let’s pretend you have a mobile site at a domain other than your own. It might look like “yourcompanyname.nameoftheappprovider.com.” Or “ABCplumbing.bizsite.com.”

From a search engine’s perspective, all of the content there belongs with the root domain it is associated with, which in this case would be “bizsite.com.” So while you may legally own your content, the search engines don’t see it that way – and for good reason.

This means that while you think you are building, promoting, advertising and linking to all the great content in your app or website, you’re really just promoting content that isn’t ultimately associated with your brand.

Some of these software providers may even attempt to tell you that Google and search are no longer relevant. If anyone tells you this, or you read it in their content, do yourself a favor and excuse them from your office and return to Google to continue your search for a digital partner.

The Bottom Line

It may seem like a huge investment to have someone build your site from the ground up. It is.

But when you work with a reputable agency or web developer, they’re building in the opportunity for you to a) retain ownership of your site and brand and b) grow and change your site, content and online capabilities as your business grows and changes.

If you’re not sure you own your content or if you have the ability to play the long game strategically with your site, contact us. Even if we don’t win your business, we want to make sure you’re in a good position and working with a reputable partner.