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Why you need 3,643 domains just like President Donald J. Trump

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We in the business call this armoring — and too few high-wealth individuals, high-profile individuals, brands, politicians, celebrities, companies, or families ever spend the small sums of money, over time, in the front end to do this sort of crisis preparation.

Back in October 8, 2013, I wrote Playing the Online Reputation Shell Game. That article was about what to do during and after an online reputation attack vis-à-vis Milo Yiannopoulos.

What Donald J. Trump‘s online reputation agency did is called search engineering, starting by preëmptively creating enough content and registering enough domains names to be able to control as much of the first three pages of Google well in advance of any sort of reputation attack, whether self-inflicted or initiated by an enemy, competitor, or lover scorned.

Here’s some background:

We in the business call this armoring — and too few high-wealth individuals, high-profile individuals, brands, politicians, celebrities, companies, or families ever spend the small sums of money, over time, in the front end to do this sort of crisis preparation — they always wait until the shit hits the fan before they need to pay $15,000-$30,000/month to Status Labs (super-awesome company and the best at what they do) in order to fix a cascade of negative search results on Google (and, I guess, across Bing and Yahoo).

And, I’ll be honest, there’s nothing worse than realizing, after you really need it, that the domain name of your dreams is owned and operated by a squatter or for sale for an ungodly $4,000 premium charge instead of even NetSol‘s insane $30/year train robbery. And if you think holding the trademark, copyright, or the license for your own brand or business, kicking someone off of a squat isn’t as easy as you’d think — not even Trump could kick someone off Trump.org and Trump.tv.

Donald J. Trump is a shrewd billionaire who’s obsessed with his immortality. Maybe proactively registering 3,643 domain names is a little excessive at at the very least $10,892.57/year — probably close to $30k/year. He registered domains that are defensive like TrumpCorporationSucks.com, practical like TrumpBuilding.org, and aspirational like TrumpRussia.com (since 2012!).

At the very least, if your name is Chris Abraham, try to get chrisabraham.comchrisabraham.orgchrisabraham.net, and, for the Euro market that loves the dash/hyphen, chris-abraham.com. Same with your corporate entity. TNI does the same thing, “Even Tech News Inc owns technewsinc.intechnewsinc.nettechnewsinc.com and technewsinc.co.in. All of these will point you towards the home page.”

And even if you leave the majority of your domain names parked, like the The Trump Organization has done, that’s OK. You’ve taken them off the table. It’s called Online Reputation Management.  If you have the time and resources, you can create a landing page, a digital brochure, that is separate than your main HQ website but more specific and targeted than your main site. The strategy behind this is to try to control your products, your services, and your brand across as many of the 30-results spread across the three default-10 results pages that Google serves.

But don’t worry if you only have enough money to cover your ass (CYA) and not enough to create a unique page for everything. As I suggested last week, buy domain names for all your pages, products, and services, just forward and redirect all the domains that can easily map onto a deep page on your websites; and, if you have someone’s name that you’re proactively registered and they don’t have a site yet, just point it at their LinkedIn profile.

Really, it’s all worth it. Even if you go for a full Trump, most companies spend more than $10,000/year on rent. You can surely own hundreds of domains for just $299 for 100, $598 for 200 — and it’s a year, not a month, Network Solutions (you domain name price gouger!).

How much do you spend on rent? On your car? On gas? On business insurance? How much do you spend on ephemeral advertising across print, digital, etc? How much did you spend on your website? Well, if you’re smart and quick and care about your online brand, armoring and arming yourself with domain names is a very cheap thing to do. Stay away from Network Solutions as they’ll charge you $34.92/year instead of $2.99/year at GoDaddy.

OK, I will admit that the hundreds of domains I own are quickly bankrupting me, but it’s really more of a slow bleed rather than a kill shot.

There are so many other Chris Abrahams. I thought there was just me. Of course, there are loads of Mark Harrisons and John Smiths, but Chris Abraham?  But in a global marketplace, all the Chris Abrahams want all the ChrisAbraham.com, etc, domains. Luckily, I bought mine back when it was called the InterNIC and domains were free! Maybe back in 1993.

Do you own the domain name for all your products? Do you have the domain name for the products and services that are in development? Do you or your staff own all their names.com? How about your board members and your C-Suite. Hell, the moment you name your child, grab that domain (I would name a child based on availability, actually — a real reason for unconventional names). Go git ’em while the going’s good and before you need them. And don’t limit your research to only .COM top-level domains (TLD). Explore international domains, if you’re legally able to grab them, and also explore the hundreds of unique TLDs that have sprung up over the last decade.

You don’t need 3,643 domains yourself but you need to think about what you do and don’t own, come up with a list of all the intellectual property, corporate assets, and personal brand that you don’t have locked down while the going is good. Well before any crisis, but surely before speculators come in and take your good (domain) names, squatting and generally never needing to relinquish any of them to you. And, maybe consider opening up your check book to get the domains you want that are for sale.

Feb 28, 2016 12:00 AM