Pancake restaurant's website gets forty thousand visitors after Lubach prank
It pays to take a critical look at your domain name portfolio
Last Sunday, popular TV presenter and comedian Arjen Lubach made fun of the website investingindutchhousing.nl. He rightly pointed out that a site designed to attract international investors would be better off with a .com domain name. So he registered investingindutchhousing.com and set up a redirect to the website of a pancake restaurant in the small town of Best. With hilarious results. Lubach's prank resulted in more than forty thousand people visiting the restaurant's website. It also highlighted some serious issues.
Redirect from .com is worthwhile
Investingindutchhousing.nl is clearly aimed at an international audience and its content is in English. It would have been very easy to register the matching .com domain name and set up a redirect to the .nl site's homepage. Non-Dutch investors don't have anything against .nl, but they're likely to type .com out of habit. If you haven't got the .com version of your name, you're therefore losing out on international traffic. Registering the .com name will mean extra visitors and less need to spend on promotion. It's a good way to increase your website's reach with very little extra effort. Conversely, if you've got a .com domain name, but some of your clients are in the Netherlands, it makes sense to register the matching .nl name as well.
A website that generates a lot of traffic or attracts valuable visitors can find itself on the radar of opportunists looking to cash in by registering variants of the site's name. Like Lubach, some people who register lookalike names have no sinister intentions. However, lookalike registrations are often used for phishing, or to spread malware. And, if your brand is being abused that way, your reputation is liable to suffer. Business registrants are therefore well advised to look out for domain registrations that closely resemble their brand names. What lookalike domain names are out there? How are they being used? Who owns them? Tools like the Domain Name Surveillance Service can provide the answers.
Everyday words make vulnerable domain names
A name like investingindutchhousing.nl is particularly vulnerable. A phrase made up of everyday words is hard to protect under intellectual property laws. So, if you plan to use a domain name like that, it's advisable to head off potential problems by registering similar names before anyone else can.
Critical analysis of your domain name portfolio is a good way of bringing extra traffic to your website. It also helps you prepare for what other people might do – whether they're after a few laughs on TV, or something more malicious.