Ways to Avoid Cybersquatting
Cybersquatting is something that's a big problem. Anyone can misrepresent you company by setting up a website with a cheap hosting company that looks and acts just like yours. The difference is, of course, that those imposters can tarnish your name in minutes. Cybersquatting can't really be stopped, but there are some things you can do to make sure that your site remains authentic.
Ways to Avoid Cybersquatting:
1. Make sure you own your site : Okay, we've touched on this subject before, but ownership is a bit different when it comes to registering your website. When you set up a website registration, you will have to provide your name. Most companies let IT personnel use their own names, simply because this makes it easier for those specialists to control a site. This isn't a good idea.
If you own a site, put it in your name. Otherwise, any disgruntled employee can claim that they own your site – “it's my name on the registration!” can be a great argument. See my point here?
2. Get really creative : Buy up every possible domain that could be mistaken for yours…and go to the dark side. Make sure to include anything like “xbrandbites.com.” You never know who could be trying to ruin your name, but it's harder for people to hate you if you buy those names first. Also, don't forget to buy .com, .biz, .net, and .org variations.
3. Check out keywords : What do keywords have to do with cybersquatting? Most keywords are based on the ways that people type a term, phrase, or company name into a search engine like Google. Guess what? Most people type things wrong. For various reasons, many words are misspelled when searched for, and that's why so many SEO experts ask writers (against their better judgement) to use keywords that are purposely misspelled. What does this have to do with your site?
Generate a list of keywords related to your site. Buy those domains that are just like the keywords you find. For example: if your site is called histhebest.com, you might want to buy up histhebst.com and any other misspelled keyword combo you find.
4. Sue. This is a last resort : Really. Suing anyone is a messy matter that costs both parties a lot of money. However, if someone is really out to ruin your brand or name with everything that they have, and they won't back down, you can threaten a lawsuit. Here's the thing, though, in the United States, you have to prove that someone had ill-intent. That could be hard to do. Arbitration is probably an easier way to go, if you don't want to go all the way with a lawsuit (certain countries have different laws in this regard, as well, so do check those out first).
5. Remain proactive : You can't just sit back and wait for someone to take over your brand. You have to go at those would-be cybersquatters with a bigger stick. To do this, think like someone that's out to ruin you would. Buy up domains, fight back, and always, always, always know what's happening with your business.
Scanning news headlines and conducting basic Google searches with your businesses' name involved is a great way to ward off cybersquatters. Need help? Ask away!
Photo courtesy of samazgor via Flickr Creative Commons