Multiple Domain Name Registration: An Ounce of Prevention

Before the first piece of content hits your site, it’s important for a business website to have the right domain name.

A domain name is not only the unique address of your website, it is also every bit the identifier of your business as your company’s name or logo, and so ensuring that the domain name you choose makes an ideal and informative introduction to your business may be one of the most important promotional steps you ever take.

However, coming up with a catchy domain name is only half the battle. A domain name extension completes the URL that will direct visitors to your site, and although most business owners looking to establish their web presence for the first time concentrate solely on “.com” addresses, the reality is that other extensions are quickly growing in popularity, meaning versions of your site name could become available for others in the future, and once these domains are successfully registered, they can prove a tall order to have taken down.

This makes controlling all variations of your domain name key to protecting the integrity of your online presence, and you can check out the domain name registration through iiNet to discover more of the benefits professional hosting offers.

Guaranteed Routing

The number of available domain name extensions has exploded in recent years, and with so many to remember, the chances that your customers may forget the one you choose are relatively high. Purchasing more than one domain name and routing them all to your main page guarantees that virtually any visitor interested in your site will find it regardless of errors in typing or memory.

Multiple domain name purchases can be especially useful for businesses with easily mis-rendered names. For example, jonsrestaurant.com may lead to the website for Jon’s restaurant, but also registering common and foreseeable misspellings of the business name such as johnsrestaurant.com as well as the main URL increases the chances that a curious customer can find your business regardless of typos.

Guaranteed routing can help your page ranking in search results as well as traffic to your site by ensuring that your level of traffic accurately represents the number of visitors who find value in what your business offers. When the highly competitive local market is taken into account, forward-thinking business leaders agree on the benefits of having your visitors find you every time as failure to secure alternate routing paths could result in lost traffic, lost prospects, and lost business.

Brand Positioning

The fact is that there are a finite number of relevant domain names that can be employed by a given business type, and so multiple companies may coincidentally have similar ideas of what makes an ideal domain name for their business. A delay in claiming all the domains that could be relevant to your brand means that other companies in your industry could purchase them instead and establish themselves as the premier business under your trade name.

This potential issue extends internationally as well as domestically, as the domain names of the modern day are not limited by region, and a hesitation to act here could mean that your potential local customers see a foreign business listed under your name online before they ever know your company exists. While it is possible to purchase domain names from their holders even after they are claimed, the added expense and coordination this arrangement requires makes purchasing the domain early an exercise in foresight.

The most important benefit of brand positioning comes into play in the case of a unique proprietary product that is the central focus of the business. It is essential to register any domain names directly related to such a product such as its proper name as well as company-focused domain names chosen to prevent a competitor from simply coming in and registering a URL including the name of the product instead of the business. This practice is known as cybersquatting, and although it is illegal under federal law, failure to be proactive about domain name control could do irreparable harm to your business.

Cybersquatting

Dishonest Internet users will sometimes intentionally register under the name of an established business without a full-scale Internet presence or register for a variation of an established domain for their own purposes.

Motivations for Cybersquatting

The most common motive for intentional cybersquatting is visitor deception, usually for the purpose of stealing business from an established company. For instance, an individual could purchase a domain name very similar to the address of the main site of a successful business and direct the URL to a page offering their products and services instead.

Another common motivation for malicious cybersquatting is to intentionally sabotage a competitor. Unscrupulous companies do this by purchasing a domain name similar to or reminiscent of the trademarks of another established business, then building a website that portrays this competitor in a negative light through poor posted reviews or an unprofessional appearance to discredit them. Some criminals even go as far as to conduct inferior business under the trade name of the original owner, tarnishing the good name a company may have worked years to achieve.

The constant threat and potential devastation of cybersquatting makes the purchase of all the most popular extensions for your chosen URL a virtual necessity for a successful company, as controlling all domains similar to your own is the only way to help minimize the threat of malicious cybersquatting to the standing of your business. Even worse, prevention may effectively be the only remedy at your disposal for protecting your domain name.

Limited Recourse

Intellectual property law is evolving to respond to the newest challenges of our digital economy, but remains significantly behind the current needs of many victims of cybersquatting. Indeed, the biggest issue with cybersquatting is an unfortunate lack of effective deterrents other than proprietary control, and once a business owner finds it necessary to defend their claim to the rightful use of their trade name online, the harsh truth is that it may be too late.

UDRP

While a protocol known as the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy does provide some protection for intellectual properties used on the Internet, the victim of cybersquatting must definitively prove three elements of the case to successfully claim their rightful ownership of the domain: that the domain in question is confusingly similar to the intellectual property being defended, that the current registrant of the domain has no legitimate right to the URL, and that the registration was intentionally done to deceive prospective visitors of the original site.

If these three case elements are satisfied, UDRP litigation offers one of two resolutions. The rightful owner can have the domain transferred to their account, or alternately have it shut down permanently. Nevertheless, this extensive burden of proof placed on the victim can make it exceedingly difficult to prove intentional cybersquatting in all but the most flagrant of cases, and the issue as a whole is rife with technicalities about prior use and good faith. This means that businesses with legitimate claims to their domain names end up losing these disputes as well as the resources used to pursue them more often than not.

ACPA

Another measure aimed at helping to defeat cyberstalking is the Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. This protocol has slightly more favorable guidelines for establishing cybersquatting, requiring the victim to prove that the defendant intentionally attempted to use the trademark of an established business for their own monetary gain by using an identical or confusingly similar trade name in their URL.

ACPA examines multiple facets of a claim, including any prior use of the trademark by the defendant and a demonstrable intent to offer goods and services. A key component to an ACPA claim is the descriptive nature of a given domain name, as relatively generic URLs are much harder to prove as a stolen intellectual property than a more specific name. ACPA allow allows for a wider range of resolutions than UDRP claims, and plaintiffs can collect up to $100,000 in statutory damages as restitution for the effects of cybersquatting. ACPA also allows for the reimbursement of court and attorney fees to the victim in a successful cybersquatting claim, and so business leaders who find themselves in need of legal counsel in this area would be well advised to obtain the best possible representation.

Costs of Litigation

The other main differences between UDRP claims and ACPA claims include that ACPA claims are brought before the federal court of the victim’s home country while UDRP claims are filed with one of two international arbitration bodies, the World Intellectual Property Organization or the National Arbitration Forum.

However, the trait they share is significant expense to business owners who find themselves in need of these services. Filing fees for UDRP claims can start at $1,500 USD, and ACPA litigation can quickly prove even more prohibitive, with costs exceeding $20,000 for a brief single-domain claim. Larger, more complex cases can test the resources of multinational corporations, and so when compared to the cost of purchasing multiple domain names as a preventative measure, the value becomes clear.

The Value in Multiples

For these reasons, companies should always try and register under as many variations of their chosen user name as possible. Domain names are commonly priced below $20 yearly even as a single purchase, and larger web hosting providers will frequently offer a discounted rate to customers who register multiple variations of a domain name. The most crucial extensions for a business to control are the “.com,” “.org,” and “.net” extensions, although regional and specialty extensions are also rising in popularity and should be integrated into your company’s web presence.

.biz

“.biz” is shorthand for business, and this domain extension is a popular choice with newer companies looking to carve out their own place on the market as well as established businesses looking to expand their brand. The “.biz” extension can lend a URL the professional quality that helps prospects distinguish otherwise similar competitors.

.au and other Regional Codes

Another emerging trend in URL extensions is the use or regional extensions such as “.au,” “.uk,” and “.us”. Despite the apparent division, these domain name extensions are not limited by the home country of the registrant, making them an ideal way to make your introduction to the international stage or create a stronger connection with an existing overseas clientele.

.info

The “.info” domain address extension is commonly used for educational sites and research utilities, but can also be used as a destination for the facts about your business. Parking the informational page for your business at a domain name with this extension gives prospects a quick and easy way to learn more about your business.

.me

This extension was originally developed for use with blogs and personal pages, but can also serve as a domain name extension for a page spotlighting the owner and key staff of the business. This helps potential customers create a more personal connection with a business, fostering the brand loyalty that gives local businesses a competitive edge.

Alternate Extension Interpretations

One other option for the creative business owner is to choose a domain name intended to correspond with a site type or region and repurpose it to make it your own. For example, the “.am” extension that was developed for use with sites originating in the country of Armenia is a popular choice with AM radio station web sites, while the extension for the small Pacific Island nation of Tuvalu has experienced significant use with TV-related web sites.

While “.com” may be the original and most commonly encountered domain name extension, your company’s search for the ideal URL to keep traffic funneling to your web site does not necessarily end with it. Owning multiple domain names ensures that as many roads as possible lead to your business, anFd combined with the peace of mind that total control of a business’ online reputation offers to those responsible for promoting its success, purchasing multiple domain names presents itself as a worthwhile investment.

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One Comment

  1. The shere cost of this model rules out just about every single small business on the planet. The problem is that private parties own these domain properties and have made it near impossible for registrars to make any real world marketing deals that make sense for the small business budget. Sorry to say but this idea is a wash and while it makes perfect business sense when you calculate the cost, not only for the old TLDs but now the opening of the thousands to follow, there is no logical sense in going down this path.

    With good marketing, SEO planning and just good sense in choosing the right domain in the first place there is no need to make a bulk purchase and I refuse to subject my clients to this idea. Personally I say F*%k the squatters and anyone that falls for that trap. The only smart one in that deal is the squatter, the real idiot is the one that thinks they have to have that domain and not only that but the ones that pay the rediculous prices for these domains are the reason those lowlifes exist in the first place.

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