An oft-overlooked piece of developing your online presence is your domain strategy – and your defensive domain strategy. Just ask Donald Trump. Although the Trump Organization apparently owns 3,643 domain names, the strategy did not include buying ImpeachTrump.com and that omission has come to haunt him recently.
Politics aside, the point is that you must own a variety of defensive domain names, as well as a good domain name (or URL – Universal Resource Locator) for your brand. This is true whether your brand is you or your company.
Let’s start with the main domain name. It must be your actual name, not some short form, acronym or variation or your name. Sometimes I see this done and it often leads to brand confusion. If your name is American Paint Supply, be sure to get AmericanPaintSupply.com, not APS.com, or AmPaintSupply.com.
I promise you that if you do rely on the short form or variation as your domain name, you will live to regret that choice. At best, it hurts your work to build your brand and costs money and time. At worst, it hurts your brand, depending on who owns that URL and what the URL is.
Additionally, you need to secure not only the .com version of your name – or .org if you are a nonprofit – you also need to secure the more common variations such as the .co, .net, .org, .com, .info, etc. Plus the country extensions if those are relevant (.ca for Canada, .uk for the UK, etc.)
Domain names are very inexpensive to own (generally $10-20/yr) and then you can redirect anyone who types in your domain name with a .co extension, etc. to your main .com domain. This makes it very easy for visitors to find you – even if they are tired and make a mistake when typing in your URL. Because we are not always fully caffeinated when doing online research!
Worst Case Example of Defensive Domain Strategy Gone Wrong
A worst case scenario example of a defensive domain strategy gone very wrong is the Canadian nonprofit called White Ribbon. This group was set up to combat domestic violence after the Montreal Massacre in 1989, where 14 women were killed by a 25-year old man who shouted “You’re all a bunch of feminists, and I hate feminists!” before opening fire on the students. The White Ribbon movement has spread to Scotland and Australia, and continues to grow, to spread the message and reduce or even eliminate violence against women.
Then in 2014, a group called A Voice for Men, designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, set up a misleading website on WhiteRibbon.org (the main White Ribbon website uses WhiteRibbon.ca since the group is centered in Canada). The copycat site attempted to delegitimize domestic violence and direct donations toward its own coffers. The site appears to have now been taken down but not before causing a great deal of difficulty, damaging brand confusion and cost to the legitimate nonprofit, White Ribbon, in hard costs and likely lost donations (http://www.whiteribbon.ca/news/white-ribbon-copycat-statement/).
So, what’s the lesson for today? Learn from mistakes like these – spend the $10-20/year for the most common variations of your domain name so you can live peacefully on the web, without exposing yourself to massive online identity or PR issues.
Until next time,
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Jenn LeBlanc, CEO & Founder of ThinkResults Marketing, works with tech CEOs and CMOs to drive results. Whether it is a 350% increase in web traffic, a 1400% increase in online leads, or a 400% increase in conversion rates, Jenn and the ThinkResults team deliver results.
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