What in a name? In reputation management, just about everything. Your company name is your calling card; it is your identifier, and you don’t want anyone else to hijack it. That means you have to take control of your name as quickly and as comprehensively as possible. On the Internet, that simply means you need to own as many domain name variations and combinations as possible and control how they are used.
A lot of companies will simply buy a .com domain and leave it at that. Others might even go so far as to buy .org and .net, but even those popular domains will not be enough to shore up your company against reputation attacks. If your company is serious about reputation management, obtain as many versions of your company name as you can. Other domains include, .tv, .me, .is, and a whole host of others. Not only will buying all these domains ensure that someone else can’t buy and use them, but you can also use them to create positive site content that links to your main domain and can boost your SEO and your reputation.
Misspell Your Company Name
In some cases, rival companies or other ne’re-do-wells will buy common misspellings of your company name in hopes of capitalizing on it for their own purposes. For example, if your company is Johnson Holdings, buy both johnsonholdings.com and jonsonholdings.com. That way, no matter how users think your name might be spelled, you’ve got it covered, and they’ll always find you.
Don’t Forget Variations
Another way to make sure you take complete control of your company name for reputation management purposes is to buy other variations of your company name. If you’ve already bought Johnsonholdings.com, also try and get johnson_holdings.com, johnsonholdingscompany.com, or johnsonholdingsinc.com. In addition to variations on your name, it can also be beneficial to combine your name with other words that could be damaging to your company—if held by someone else. For example combine your company with “scam” or “ripoff” (i.e., johnsonholdingsscam.com, etc.). Not only will this ensure that no one else can buy that name and use it to defame your company but you can be sure those sites will never go live.
For small companies, buying all these domains can be expensive, but since most domains will only cost anywhere from $10.00–80.00 per year, it could pay off in the long run to obtain more variations of your name as your company grows. For large corporations, it’s probably best to simply buy as many domains as possible and begin using them to your advantage as soon as you do.
Sometimes reputation management is simply a name game. And if you can do your best to guard your company name and hold on to as many variations of it as you can, you’ll be on the winning team.