If you’re interested in protecting and controlling your own online reputation, one of the easiest things in the world you can do is register as many domain names as are available and try to back-order all the rest. And, don’t tell me how expensive that’ll be either, because it’ll surely end up being a lot cheaper than option B, C, D, or E — where option B is the thousands of dollars you’ll need to spend if someone else gets your domains first and is willing to sell them back to you and option C is when, instead of selling your domain name back to you, they create an attack site wherein mis-info is the special of the day.
One domain’s good enough, right?
I have been in the online reputation management game for ten years, sharing everything I know about it for five, and folks are still walking around like it’s 1993. Maybe my megaphone isn’t big or loud enough but folks are still wandering around with maybe one domain name. Sometimes this domain name is their name; other times, it’s something cute or branded. Domains are so cheap that you should own at least twenty-five — just you. Seriously. You should reserve as many as you can actually reserve, meaning you probably cannot cross too many country codes off your list as most countries require residency or citizenship. But do whatever you can, whatever you can afford, it’s not too late (you can always put together a pretty good collection of domains made up of entirely of second- and third-tier domains.
Waaah! All the good domains are already taken!
No they’re not. Not only are they not all taken but if you can get some pretty darn great ones if you’re less obsessed with Le Domain Juste — the perfect domain name — and think more about your online reputation. We’re not obsessing here about what you’re going to name your new LLC or what tattoo you’re going to get on your neck or even what that manuscript hidden in your side drawer’s going to be named when it’s ultimately published, becoming into the great American novel — it’s not such a big deal.
Why do I need all of these domain names?
As you may well know, both online reputation management (ORM) and search engine optimization (SEO) eat keywords for breakfast. Usually, we think only of the keywords embedded in the copy, titles, headlines, URLs, and hyperlinked keyword phrases. You might even know that your search and reputation biosphere is a balance between the number and quality of links linking to your site, the textural links within your site, and the links you share with others.
However, you might not know that upwards of a third of all your Google juice comes from the combination of your top-level-domain and the keywords in your domain name, though it’s generally closer to 1/5th, unless you posses a .GOV domain, or have owned the domain name for years — age does count when it comes to domain names, so you should have done this years and years ago.
Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.
So, this is what I would choose for myself — most of which, I think, I might own — or maybe not. But anyway, here’s my list, both theoretical and practical — and I am only dealing with the dot-com domains:
There are a whole host of other top-level domain names to choose from. For example, chrisabraham.info, chrisabraham.biz, chrisabraham.tv, chrisabraham.cc, chrisabraham.ws, chrisabraham.co, chrisabraham.la, in addition to your .NET, .ORG, and .US — and there are even more than that, including .NU and many others, many of which are only between ten and twenty dollars or so if you use a competitive registrar.
You’re also allowed to register certain other country domain names, if that makes any sense to you — .CO.UK, for example.
And while your at it . . .
Why don’t you consider doing some or all of this for the members of your team, your principals, your board members, and key members of your staff — either secure them yourself, for safe keeping, or reach out to the members of your team, your principals, your board members, and key members of your staff to encourage them to register and reserve one or more of their own key domain names themselves — and tell them why.
What do I do with all of these blasted domain names?
Well, for now, nothing. Just gloat about all the money you’re saving by not availing your name, your brand, or yourself to the whims of others, some of whom don’t have your best interests in mind. So, be happy that you’re one of the few people who is actually squatting your own domain names. So, unless you know how to forward and redirect your domain names to all of your blogs, sites, social networks, platforms, and services, just sit on your laurels.
That said, if you’re willing to put some time in, there are some sites that already allow you to map your domain names onto them: Blogger, Tumblr, Posterous, Typepad, WordPress.com — and of course any and all of your hosted websites. So, go check that out, though I should probably put together a couple-few videos on the subject (be sure to remind me).
The better idea is to just have those domains in your front pocket, ready to use when you need them — like Halloween candy-corn all sticky and stuck together but handy in your pocket. Either way, it doesn’t matter. Domain names are a long-term investment — maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to make a little extra money down the road when your namesake reaches out to you when he or she realizes that you’re in possession of all of the domain names in every form imaginable of the name you share.
About Chris Abraham
A pioneer in online social networks and publishing, with a natural facility for anticipating the next big thing, Chris is an Internet analyst, web strategy consultant and advisor to the industries' leading firms. He specializes in Web 2.0 technologies, including content syndication; organize search engine optimization (SEO), online reputation management (ORM), content marketing, online collaboration, blogging, and consumer generated media.