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Community Organization Lost Control of Its Website

2:40 pm on Nov 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Our webmaster recently got fed up with the group and left. The domain was registered in this individuals name and they have been unresponsive. No answering emails, I certainly don't think this individual is going to be transferring the domain name back to us, there were some personality conflicts that turned ugly. One the plus side, they haven't defaced the website, just stopped updating it.

Our website is our face to the community and folks in the community use it to find information about us including public events that we host. We are starting a new website. How do I get this new website recognized by Google?

My plan is:
1) Create the new website (its created already, actually)
2) Link to it from our facebook page
3) Ask the members of the organization to link to it if they have a website (about 40 members, a couple might have websites), blog about it, share it in their facebook/g+ accounts.

Anybody have any other suggestions?
3:52 pm on Nov 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator goodroi is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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You have two issues to deal with.
-Removing the old website from Google to avoid confusion
-Launching a new site to replace it

You might want to ask nicely for the old webmaster to 301 redirect the old domain. This will help to remove the old site and quickly boost up the new site. If the relationship with the old webmaster is very bad you may need to hire a lawyer. Hopefully you can avoid that situation.

You might want to research who owns the copyright to the content. If he owns the domain and you own the copyright you may want to consider a DMCA request which would remove the old site from the search engine listings.

In my experience it is always better to try to handle it the nice way. Often it is cheaper to give the old person cash & gifts than to pay expensive legal bills.

Also start working on the backlinks. Contact all people linking to the old site and ask them to switch to the new site.
4:35 pm on Nov 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

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The new site is now launched, but you can't find it on Google.

We've tried asking the old webmaster nicely, and gotten no response. Maybe cooler heads will prevail eventually, but as for now they are incommunicado. I'd actually prefer transferring the domain ownership to the organization as opposed to the 301 redirect. The organization paid for the domain, but it is actually registered to that individual.

Filing a DMCA request is interesting. The copyright is not clear though. Most of it was written by the webmaster for the organization. The copyright certainly wasn't formally signed over to the organization. I don't want to be in a position where I am filing a false request.

I'll start on the backlinks, I think it is going to be a slow process.
1:57 pm on Nov 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member piatkow is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Always a problem, walked out as a community group webmaster after the committee p*ss*d me about. Split the site and domain to a separate account with my hosting company, removed payment details and handed over userid and password. (I paid for the site and kept the Adsense income which pretty well matched the expenses)
The underlying problem is the need to use a credit or debit card to pay on registration as community groups don't normally get these with their bank accounts.
2:31 pm on Nov 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

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deadsea you just learned a lesson - do everything in the communities name.

Since you are still an active community, there is always ICANN arbitration, it can be costly, but based on what you've told us, you are running out of options.

If you have access to the google webmaster tools, you can remove the old domain that way.
2:17 am on Nov 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

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There are several articles on the net listing things you can do when a web designer puts your domain in their name. Just google those words.

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