As a small business owner, you put blood, sweat and tears into your brand. Now it’s time to protect it with a great domain name strategy.
Picture the scene: you’re struck with a great idea for a product or service, quit your day job and commit 80 hours a week to getting your idea off the ground. If you are a small business owner this scenario most likely sounds familiar. Now imagine that this same small business owner stumbles across a website with the domain name yoursmallbusiness.sucks, and it’s full of defamatory content aimed at the small business you worked so hard to create.
With a strong domain name strategy this sad story can be avoided. How is that? By being proactive in snapping up domain names which are relevant to your operations you have the chance to control the conversation about your brand online. This way the potentially damaging domains are safe in your pocket and away from what can be a cold, cruel internet.
What could a domain name do for your business?
The terrible thing about domain squatters and spammers is that their strategy, regardless of their malicious intent, usually works. If it didn’t, people wouldn’t spend so much time and money doing it. While we are not here to instil domain fear in your hearts: it is good business practice to know what you are up against.
There are three goals driving your average internet troll to register domains attached to your brand or business:
Just about every successful business has a disgruntled ex-employee or customer that will stop at nothing to bad-mouth your reputation; how better to reach the entire world than with a website? Once upon a time loser.com was actually redirected to Kanye West’s Wikipedia page! Ouch. What can we say, haters are going to hate which is why it is best to ensure you at least make it a challenge for trolls to denigrate your brand by employing a great strategy.
If you run a successful website you are in danger of someone registering a similar domain name to steal your traffic. If you run example.com and someone registers example.net, they have the power to copy your web design and take advantage of your customers.
If someone buys a domain name that a business really wants, they hold an enormous advantage because technically they can sell it back for however much they want. For example, this man registered LeBronJames.com to serve as a redirect to his LinkedIn account. Why? We have no idea, but LeBron James himself wasn’t too impressed. Mr. James bought it from him, most likely for a really high price.
How to create an amazing domain name strategy in three easy steps:
Step 1: Think like your enemy.
Spend some time making a list of all potentially damaging domain names that could exist, whether they are aimed at stealing your brand’s reputation or defaming it. Learn from the misfortune of other celebrities, businesses and political figures to truly be effective. Once you have created your list do some investigating at Midphase.com/domains or who.is to find out how many domains are still available and how much you can expect to spend to protect yourself and your brand. If in doubt, think like Taylor Swift.
Step 2: Do your homework.
Read up on UDRP (uniform domain name resolution policies) and know the rights that you have as a brand and what to do in a worst case scenario. By understanding what is against policy and what is not you can better protect yourself and keep squatters and spammers away from your brand.
Step 3: Make a game plan.
Filing a lawsuit or UDRP can be a long drawn out process and you might want to consider just buying a damaging domain from the squatter. While it seems like a bad idea to feed the trolls it may be the least expensive and time consuming option. It is always better to be ahead of the game and register the domain before someone else does, but in the event that you don’t it is good to know how much you are willing to compromise before calling in the courts.
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