The online space today is a different world from 1994-5. In 1994-5 there were only two real concerns for a business to worry about: (1) what Top Level Domain (TLD) should I register? and (2) what should I do with it?
Bearing in mind that there were actually only seven TLDs in existence by 1996 (.com, .edu, .gov, .int, .mil, .net and .org) and only .com, .net and .org were available without restriction, this first part did not pose a difficult question to answer.
If we fast-forward to the present day, the concerns are very different, very real and very complex.
- There are over 315 TLDs in existence (source IANA : List 08/08/12 ), that are available to register today.
- The oversight body for this industry is ICANN, which has been through significant changes in organization and structure and has recently closed the applications window for the new generic top level domain (gTLD) program. The first of these new suffixes will launch most likely in Q3 2013 and ICANN have committed, in this initial phase, for up to 1000 delegations from an application pool of 1930.
- Search engines have revolutionized the web with Google receiving up to one billion page views per month (source: comScore). More specifically this is how the average consumer uses the Internet.
However, this is not a doom and gloom message, in fact far from it. You can view the online world for a business as having three concerns.
- Protecting my traffic - making sure everything I should get, I do get
- Protecting my customers - making sure they feel protected once they have arrived at my content
Ultimately, if a business is focused on these three concerns, which start with having a robust domain name strategy, then the return on the investment is tangible through site conversions, up-lift in revenue and more stickiness to your brand.
So what is a domain name strategy? It’s a very good question and many people regard it in different ways. Simply put, it’s about:
a) Defining a policy for your enterprise or small business
- What TLDs should you be concentrating on?
- Registration of brands, keywords, search terms, typos, derivatives, defensive/abusive terms and/or subsidiaries (SEO and search engines are heavily weighted on relevance)
- Naming convention e.g. no hyphens, only one word
- Clear legal ownership. Make sure all domains are registered with consistent whois information: brand/legal entity/operating division/country/territory. This creates less ownership disputes and speedy SSL ordering and provision
b) Governing that policy
- Adding an approvals process so that each division, legal entity or subsidiary understand the policy that has been laid out and can conform to that policy
- Creating domain alerts when either people within or external to your organization threaten that policy by side-stepping it or just being malicious
c) Understand where your traffic is going
- Perform a domain name pointing audit to establish: what is not resolving; what is being forwarded; how is it being forwarded.
- Anything pointing ‘correctly’ should be evaluated to make sure that it is both a genuine site that is yours and not simply a holding page.
NetNames helps with this process with its Platinum service and your access to a named, dedicated account manager. Part of the day-one philosophy for us is to help you and your organization define this policy.
We can help you govern it with our collection of online portals and we can help you understand what’s happening in and around your organization with our Domain Alert services.
So whilst you cannot categorically stop malicious or ill-advised activity, you can at least be informed about it.
So, if you want to stay ahead, start thinking about these concerns. Remember, you’ve worked hard to create a brand, don’t lose sight of what your strategy is, or should be, because strategy equates to staying one step ahead.
Written by Gary McDowell, Director of Integrations, NetNames
12 October 2012