“Bingo, I’ve got it! The perfect name for my company.” Have you ever had this feeling? Business owners, freelancers, aspiring entrepreneurs, I’m talking to you. Before you decide on a company name, research available website domains—if you’re able to.
Buyer beware: If you’re in the market for a domain name, you can be sure to encounter a cybersquatting obstacle.
What is “cybersquatting?”
Also referred to as “domain squatting,” this practice is where “domain companies,” purchase one-to-two-word domain names (what they refer to as “premium”) in bulk and resell them for thousands of dollars… literally. Millions in extreme cases.
In the legal sense, cybersquatting is when a person or company will buy a domain name of an already well-known or established brand with no real intention of using it. Then they hold it hostage for an outrageous amount of money when the actual company/brand attempts to purchase it.
In the majority of instances, domain buyers will find alternative (yet SEO-debilitating) ways to match an available URL to their company name, which includes things such as adding “the,” descriptive words, hyphens or the dreaded use of .net or .org.
For example, see the difference between the original AwesomeDomain.com versus AwesomeDomainName.com, Awesome-Domain.com or AwesomeDomain.net.
This can be an effective way at securing an inexpensive domain name, yet this can hurt your company’s online search presence. And therein lies the value of domains: searchability. After all, if clients can’t find you, how can they buy from you?
Why are some domains so expensive?
In short, there are four characteristics that make up the value of a domain (which can vary greatly based on the types of words used).
Use as few words as possible to convey the name.
Reduce chances of similarity with another company’s domain name.
Easy to remember.
Spelled like it sounds so that a potential client won’t need to see it to type it in a web browser.
Following these guidelines can help make your company easier to find online, which is precisely why cybersquatters try to sell them at such high costs—because of the domain’s perceived value to you and your business.
How can I avoid cybersquatters?
Really, you can’t, but being aware of this practice can help you avoid spending tons of your hard-earned money. Try working backward.
TIP: Research domain names before you go through developing your company’s name.
If you’re fortunate enough to be in the early stages of your business development, you have a much better chance of securing a valuable domain at an affordable price. You can do this by brainstorming keywords that relate to you and your business. Then take those keywords and research available website domains—Arvixe offers a good domain search tool. This can be an exhaustive effort, but one ultimately worth it! Your wallet will thank you later.