How Small Businesses Can Protect Their Online Domains

- June 23, 2013 2 MIN READ

There are few things more damaging to a small business’€™ online reputation than losing out on prime online real estate. Consider this scenario: You own a small accounting service called Blue Ridge Accounting. You go to sign up for BlueRidgeAccounting.com, and are mortified to find that the domain is already claimed by someone else.

This is of course, embarrassing, and it wreaks of unprofessionalism; after all, successful companies always have the rights to their exact-match online domains. (Can you imagine if Apple did not own Apple.com?) But more than an embarrassment, it is also a potential online reputation risk. Should a business rival or a disgruntled employee get a hold of your online domains, those domains could be used to redirect traffic to a competing business, or else to simply mock and embarrass your brand.

The Importance of Domain Defense

What all of this means is that small businesses need to take the time to stock up on their online domains, to protect themselves from “doppelganger domain” syndrome. How? Simply visit GoDaddy.com, where you can usually obtain a domain for a very reasonable price. Specific domains to get include:

  • To begin with, make sure that you have YourBrandName.com, .org, and .net. You may not necessarily use each of these domains—and we will return to that point in a few moments—but because these are the domains most likely to rank in a search for your business, these are the domains that you are going to want to make sure you have secured.
  • Additionally, it is a prudent idea to obtain the domains associated with your CEO or your most visible, public executives. The online reputation of your chief executive is closely tied to the reputation of your business—and if one goes down, it will take the other with it. As such, it is important to shield your executives against online defamation.
  • You will want to shore up the domains associated with your branded products—like “iPad” or “Happy Meal.” These branded terms are as precious to you as the name of your business itself.
  • If you have a generic or common business name, you may want to get a geospecific domain—like, “AceWidgetsSydney.com,” or “DailyGrindCoffeeMelbourne.net.”
  • Finally, remember that it’s not just about Web domains. You also need to make sure to sign up for social media handles that match your website domain name, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Completed.com, Google+, and Pinterest. If at all possible, the account names and vanity URLs you get for these social media sites should correspond with your main company website address.

What to Do with Your Domains

Will your small business actually put all of these domains and social media accounts to use? Frankly, it’s not likely. Most smaller enterprises simply don’t have a need for several different websites, nor do they have the time and resources necessary to manage dozens of social media profiles.

With that said, just having them is a big step in the right direction, because if you’ve got them locked down, it means nobody else can snatch them up and use them against you! This is largely about playing defense—knowing that the domains that could be exploited and used against your brand are totally under your control. One way in which you can use them most effectively is to use one domain for your main company website, and redirect the others to send all traffic to that main website.

The bottom line is that, for small business owners in Australia and beyond, online reputation defense is a critical concern—and it all begins with the proper defense of your most strategically significant online domains.