Protecting your brand online

Written on 22 October, 2013 by Karen Lim-Sam
Categories DomainsMarketingSmall BusinessTags branddomain names

Everyone wants the perfect dot-com web address, but often businesses don’t think any further than that. If you don’t register multiple domain extensions for your chosen domain, you may actually be harming your business and brand online.

Domain hijacking

Unscrupulous internet businesses, hackers and spammers often use common or popular domain names to register sites with very similar URLs. These sites are then used to host advertising, spam fodder and even adult content or viruses. In some cases you may find a domain that your potential customers go to by mistake, is a trap set up to infect their computer with malware. Each of these has the potential to damage your company’s brand online.

International audiences

People all over the world get used to typing their local domain extension, and you may be missing opportunities by not having them registered. If your business operates internationally then it pays to register as many local domains as possible – or at least the most common ones. For exmaple, if you are a business that also operates in Australia then it is wise to register the .com.au and .net.au domain extensions to cover your brand online within the Australian market. International domains are sometimes registered by hijackers or spammers to capitalise on people searching for your company, using them for phishing attacks or malware vectors.

Australian businesses should also attempt to register at least .com, .com.au, .net.au and .net domains.

Misspellings

It’s easy to mistype a URL, and it can pay to register some common misspellings. Keep an eye on search analytics to see if people are searching for your site but getting the domain wrong – if it’s happening a lot then you’ll increase your traffic by registering the misspelt domain and redirecting it to your site.

Easy URLs

If your primary domain is long or complicated, a shortened version may be useful. It makes life easier for customers while the redirect will mean they still see the full primary URL once they arrive at your site.

Avoiding these traps can make a difference to your bottom line, but be wary of registering dozens of domains just for the sake of search engine rankings. In reality, engines like Google will likely penalise sites with excessive redirected domains, particularly if it’s obviously just an attempt to have more URLs. Stick with the recommendations above for best results.

If you cover your bases in this way, and keep a close eye on your search statistics and analytics, you’ll see where each domain is working for you. If you register a country-level domain, for example, and find that after several months none of your traffic is coming through that domain, it’s probably safe to let it lapse.

Regularly checking search results for your preferred keywords to catch any attempts at hijacking by competitors or spammers is a good practice to keep your brand online safe.