Sometimes More Domain Names Are Better

December 1, 2010, 10:06 AM

In a previous post I cautioned against falling for unsolicited offers to purchase Internet domain names that are not really needed to protect your business interests. For example, if your trade or business name is CashGenerator and you have secured the top level cashgenerator.com, cashgenerator.net and cashgenerator.org domain names, you can really do without cashgenerator.biz, cashgenerator.asia and the myriad of other domain names that might be available with lower level domain suffixes, unless special considerations apply (for example, if you make substantial sales in foreign markets).

However, if marketing your products or services via the Internet is important to you, there may be other domain names you want to reserve, not so much to enhance your own marketing but to keep others from using them to divert your customers and potential customers to other websites offering products or services that compete with yours. Often referred to as cybersquatting or cyberpiracy, such activities are pervasive in some industries. Generally they do not divert Internet traffic from your website to those of active competitors, but instead divert them to landing pages that provide links to multiple providers of competing products or services. The owners of such landing pages and the domain names that lead Internet users to them may get some revenue from advertising and through hits on the links available on their pages, but they stand to make more if they can sell the domain names.

To avoid being in the unenviable position of having to buy domain names from cypersquatters at inflated prices in order to eliminate customer confusion, anyone who has the opportunity to do so should consider reserving not only the domain name at which they intend to operate their website and the .net and .org variants of that name (cashgenerator.com, .net and .org in my example), but also the .com, .net and .org variants of other names that would be most attractive to potential cybersquatters. For example, the owner of my hypothetical CashGenerator business might also consider reserving cashgeneration.com, .net and .org as domain names that would have the greatest potential to cause customer confusion and diversion of Internet traffic away from their cashgenerator.com website.

Some companies like the one in my example may be able to cover this concern with purchase of very few extra domain names. Others might see the need for purchasing many more. For example, a business with the name Generic Federal Savings Bank that is also known by its acronym GFSB might have to secure rights to a fairly large number of domain names to frustrate cybersquatters who might want to divert traffic from their GFSB website to financial service landing pages accessed through domain names like gfs.com, .net and .org; gsfb.com. net and .org; genericfederalbank.com., net and .org; and genericfederal.com, .net and .org. But in any case the low cost of reserving such domain names yourself will far outweigh the price of buying rights to them from cybersquatters down the road. - Robert E. Smartschan