Schoolboy error from the Apprentice champion

In late December the tenth series of The Apprentice reached its climax when Lord Sugar chose Mark Wright to be his latest business partner after a gruelling twelve week competition.  Whilst Wright was one of the stronger candidates in this season, his business idea wasn't exactly revolutionary or one that Sugar had any experience in.

Four months on and Climb Online, an Internet Marketing and SEO company, still seems like an odd choice for one of Britain's most successful and respected entrepreneurs to have invested in. Whilst knowledge of SEO appears to be Wright's field of expertise, the importance of the domain name doesn't seem so strong.

As part of the process it seems, based on WHOIS data, that Sugar's company Amsvest Ltd registered the domain name www.climb-online.co.uk back in June last year, four months before the first episode aired.  For a SEO company you would have thought finding a name with an available domain name may be a key starting point.  Unfortunately, the www.climbonline.co.uk domain had been registered since 2004 by a rock climbing company.

But being an expert in the digital space surely meant an awareness of the biggest change to the Internet since Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web, right? It appears not so far.  The new gTLD dotMarketing would have been a good alternative domain name perhaps? It certainly seems coincidental that www.climbonline.marketing was registered less than 48 hours after Wright won the hand of Lord Sugar by what appears to be a third party, as too was www.Climbonline.agency.  As I type this, www.climb-online.marketing is still available to register.  Of course, they could be keeping their powder dry for a big push to get www.climb.online when it reaches General Availability later this year.  It's hard to beat Exact Domain Matches (EDM) when it comes to search ranking and keywords, but being the expert I'd expect Wright to already know this.

Whilst the noises coming out from the firm are positive in terms of results so far, the importance of having a domain strategy cannot be clearer than in this instance.  Many new businesses come up with great concepts and ideas, taking their plans along way down the road before thinking of registering the domain name.  And in many cases they are left with painful and expensive options - try to negotiate the acquisition of a third party-owned name, change their business plan or try to use alternative similar domain names.