What happens when someone registers “your” domain? How much damage can they do to you?
In the first post of this series, we looked at naming your blog brand and selecting domains but we didn’t touch on protecting your brand from other people.
This is a real problem and brand collisions happen all the time, intentionally or unintentionally.
It can be particularly worrying once you have put really effort into your brand and built up an audience.
Can Someone Clone Your Brand?
When you start out your only concern is choosing a domain that is available. It is only later after succeeding in gaining recognition many bloggers concern themselves with protecting their brand.
The usual advice when registering a domain is to buy all the variations you can afford
- Country variations (eg. .ca/.org.uk)
- Hyphenations (eg. pro-blogger.com as well as problogger.com)
I have never had the budget to take it quite as far as people would advise you to. My advice is to get the best domains you can afford and then really work hard on them.
Isn’t that taking a risk? Couldn’t someone eventually see your successful blog and try to hitch a free ride on the back of your hard work?
Yes, they will. But let’s look at this objectively:
- How much of your traffic is from your domain being typed into the browser? I would expect the majority of your traffic comes from links and searches. Even from people who know your blog name. I do get a small amount of “direct” traffic to my own blogs but it is hard to know if Google Analytics is just not getting provided the referrer (for example, privacy settings or being referred by smartphone apps), and the impact is not so much that I would worry about all of the domain variations.
- Domain squatters are (mostly) obvious – If someone lands on the wrong site people usually know. Most of the time it will be a coming soon or domain auction page, in fact. Only occasionally will someone go to the work to try to pass it off as the original.
- Bad variations of good names look wrong – Once a brand has some recognition the fakes just look bad. Think about when you see fake names on products Hadidas, Nyke, Macdanolds, Roylex.
There is still a problem with the dilution of your brand, of course. Possibly someone will register the alternatives in order to do you harm. Mostly they might buy the domain in order to sell it to you at a grossly inflated price using fear to motivate you.
What you absolutely MUST do is make sure you renew your domains! Most registrars will now allow you to set your domains to auto-renew and to be locked so they can not be moved without your permission. That still means ensuring your credit card details are up to date.
The best you can do is to put maximum effort into making sure your own brand is first and foremost in your audience’s mind.
Create the best exposure among other blogs and in the search engines that you can. Buy the domains you can afford. Try to not worry about the domains that got away!
Table of contents for series: Better Blog Branding
- Better Blog Branding: What’s In a Name?
- Better Blog Branding: 10 Ways To Destroy Your Brand
- Better Blog Branding: Domain Exclusivity
- Better Blog Branding: Is Your Brand Breaking Promises?
- Better Blog Branding: Crafting Your Positioning Statement
- Better Blog Branding: How to Stand Out By Being First
- Better Blog Branding: Your Blogs Hidden Messages
- Better Blog Branding: Your Successful Brand
- Blog Branding and Positioning: Changing the Rules of the Blogging Game
- Naming Your Blog: How to Create Catchy Blog Names
- What Are You Saying Between the Lines?