Guest Post: The “Independent Web”: The only place where YOU control your online presence

Godaddy Super Bowl CommercialThis is a guest post from The company has generously supported the Ronald McDonald House. I am hoping to raise $10,000 for RMH in 2012, and I invite you to contribute to help. It’s a great organization!

In 1991, when the Web went public, it was remarkable because it was the first time in the history of the Earth that you could create a presence anyone else in the world could find, see and interact with instantly.   Best of all, you had 100 percent control over the content of the site and therefore over the experience of each visitor, as well as the data from it. Now, two decades later, a massive sea change has seen the addition of pages on Facebook ®, Twitter ®, Google+ ® and other similar sites. The problem is, unlike traditional websites, some of the content and all of the data created by interactions on those sites are not yours to use and to control . . . it is theirs.

To be clear, a presence, for instance, on  Facebook can be a good thing; it is the “water cooler” where 900 million people  gather (that’s more than 12 percent of the planet’s population). Even Go Daddy, a company founded on the concept that every individual can have and control his or her own  Web presence, has a Facebook page. What is important to realize is the difference between building your presence on what has been dubbed the Dependent Web  versus the Independent Web: both have value, but you only fully control one.

Apparently it was John Battelle, co-founder of Wired Magazine  and news website The Industry Standard, who coined the terms in his 21 October 2010 blog entry on He explained that in the Dependent Web, host companies deliver content, advertising and services based on what or who it thinks the visitor is. Therefore, the content presented is actually dependent  upon past and present actions such as webpages visited and mouse-clicks. In contrast, in the Independent Web (with some exceptions) host companies do not change content according to their perception of visitors’ wants/needs.

Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress, compared the two in a recent GigaOM blog  by making the analogy that now “. . . more people want to own their own space on the Web – they want to own a house instead of rent an apartment.” In a posting early this year Battelle added, “Companies that have planted their presence too deeply into the soils of Facebook are going to realize they need to control their own destiny and move their focus and their core presence back into the independent waters of the open Internet.”

To demonstrate the difference, (and while preparing this blog post) a visit to  presented all the products and services the company offers, as well as links to various company news, facts and commercials. In contrast, on the  page mentions of the same products and services were presented (albeit in different format). In place of the supplemental information,   “another chance at love,” taking away from the overall company message. In addition there was a column listing text posts from Facebook friends around the country. Is this good or bad? Well, neither; they are simply different experiences companies can offer by building Dependent Web-based pages or not. So, at the surface, this is fine; below that, maybe not.

Battelle went further saying “I’m a fan of integrating Facebook into your brand efforts . . . but the point is simple: If you are a brand, publisher or independent voice, don’t put your taproot  into the soils of Facebook. Plant it in the Independent Web.” Therefore, if your promotions and the results of SEO drive visitors to; that would mean that ALL of the data is Facebook’s to exploit. Instead, if you drive people to, you at least “own”  the data that led them to your Facebook account.

So consider that, when registering an Internet domain name  and signing up for a hosting account, you end up with a blank canvas on a wall anyone in the world can see. What you put on that canvas is entirely up to you and what data you gain is yours. That’s the real value of the Independent Web and why Go Daddy has supported it from the start. Oh, and be sure to remember that if you build a website  – but choose to use a free hosting service or  free email address  – you are giving the host company free reign to place their ads on your site and subsequently harvest your data from it.   And remember, obtaining a good domain and driving lots of the world’s population to your site on the Independent Web means you have created a real value in the virtual world.

So what does this  mean to you? If at some point you find you no longer need it, check out how Elliot Silver and his blog ( followers have turned domain names into re-sellable properties worth from hundreds to millions of dollars; just try to do that with a Facebook page!

* Third-party trademarks are the property of their respective owners. All rights reserved.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. Great post!

    If there was one thing I would have highlighted more it’s what you said at the start about the ‘water cooler’.

    Basically you can argue all you like about control or any other aspect of web properties, but at the end of the day more people means more exposure. Isn’t that the purpose behind starting a website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter account or anything else on the Internet?

    Totally agree that any SEO efforts should be complimented by Facebook and other social networks, not based on them.

    I see an interesting debate starting here …

  2. Awesome post.

    I often cringe when I see a nice commercial or add only to the see the URL they are using is

    And as good as facebook has it right now, they are a competing start-up away from being the next Netscape or MySpace…so any company who is putting all their eggs in the facebook “basket” is taking a big risk

  3. It must really suck to work for a large company and have to run everything by legal so you end up having to put “R” circle next to trademarks as in Facebook®, Twitter®, Google+® etc. which isn’t necessary. Or maybe the person who wrote this is young and inexperienced (actually that is more likely) and appears to be modeling after some other format they saw or read about on writing for a trade publication (or in this case blog).

    By the way, wordpress is also a registered trademark:

  4. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately as well. I’m finally, this week, getting serious about building my own personal site/brand and relying less on having everything on f.b.
    F.B. and twitter are great for connecting and getting traffic but you really just can’t beat having your own website or blog where you’re in complete control.

  5. Nice overview of the difference between the Dependent vs Independent Web as one starts out in the field. Also—a nice way of defending GoDaddy’s right to bombard their own advertising on their customer’s links when an unexpecting new client designs a simple Instapage from them. I bought a domain name, set up a free, simple Instapage—-and when sharing with friends my link to the Instapage on Twitter—there was so much GoDaddy advertising verbage that one could not tell where to click on the web address because of all the GoDaddy advertising embedded before and after my address link shown. It looked so spammy and so unprofessional. Neeldess to say, I am working on finding a host that knows better boundaries before building up any future site. 🙁

  6. P.S. Got get me wrong, I still like GoDaddy and love to register with them. Their customer support is unbelievably great.

  7. Ugh….typo….I meant: Don’t get me wrong in that last post….that’s what I get for typing at 2 in the morning…

  8. Elliot,

    Out of curiosity, do you have specific “prerequisites” that you look for in a company in order to be a guest post on your blog? Since this is a plug for Godaddy, do you ever charge for guest posts or is the only financial requirement that they contribute to your cause? You’ve mentioned that GoDaddy is predominately the registrar that you use and I think it’s certainly fantastic that they made a large donation, however, I’m a little curious if you plan on offering the same opportunity to other registrars in the industry.

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