Don’t let nasty new domains create trouble for your org
We often caution clients to snap up URL’s like yournamesucks.com or yournamescam.com in order to protect themselves, but a newly approved domain is taking that issue to a whole new level. Starting in June, .sucks domains will go on sale for $2,500. This starting price, which is FAR above what other domains typically cost, has many calling extortion. Despite that, there have been several big-name buyers (Apple and Taylor Swift are a couple of the well-known entities rumored to have purchased theirs).
Although the .sucks domain is getting a second look from the FTC to determine whether it’s a little too predatory to be allowed, it won’t be the last of its kind. Paying for these URLs to ward off threats is also a weak strategy, as our own Jonathan Bernstein explained in an interview with Teresa Dixon Murray for Cleveland.com:
Jonathan Bernstein of Bernstein Crisis Management in Los Angeles doesn’t recommend the purchase. “I think it’s a complete waste of money. It’d be a complete waste of money even for $10,” he said. “Somebody who wants to hurt you can do it in a number of other ways.”
A domain that ends in .sucks is just a novelty that causes snickers, he said. “It’s a gimmick. It’s a pet rock.”
Bernstein pointed out that a critic who wanted to create a disparaging website about a company would be better off using “sucks” in the main part of the domain, not the suffix, because the main domain carries more weight with search engines. So xyzcompanysucks.com is better for search engines than xyzcompany.sucks.
So, you may be asking, what’s the best way to counter these types of issues?
The answer is twofold. One, you need to control your presence on the ‘net. Have well-ranked properties that belong to you appearing on page one of searches for key terms, and interact with stakeholders regularly to show its really you. Step two may seem obvious, but its overlooked so often it bears as much repeating as it can get. Be a good, responsible organization. That’s it. Will you run into random detractors? Of course. But if you’re widely known to do the right thing and treat stakeholders well it really doesn’t matter.
Whether it’s through a nasty domain or some other device, negativity will always exist. Eliminate the deserved through proper behavior and you suddenly have a lot less to deal with. Throw a bit of smart web use into the mix and you’ll find it fairly easy to protect your good name on the ‘net.
Erik & Jonathan Bernstein