Being proactive in online brand protection can reduce the chances of taking a serious hit and eroding value to your brand, but where to start. Understanding the different types of online brand protection is your first step. Many aren’t self-evident, and most are easy to manage. While its costly to buy up every domain extension of your brand, you should grab the ones of the most value. These being .com, .org, .net, and even your country domain at the very least. Less discerning online marketers will try to capitalize on your brand by using a domain squatting to acquire the trust it carries in their hopes of increasing sales or for some other use. You don’t need to host a copy of your site at all of these additional domains, but you should use a 301 redirect to point them to your main site. Another form of protection is grab online real estate and claim user names for social media properties like twitter, flickr, youtube, facebook, vimeo, scribd, digg and more. Their are possibly thousands, and it would be impossible to get every single one, but grabbing some of the more popular ones will prove valuable at some point.
You also want to watch out for traffic diversions, where contextual ads (aka PPC) are placed on search engines. This not only siphons potential leads, it often erodes brand equity as well. Keep an eye on the sponsored listings in popular search engines like Google or Bing. Site fraud is another one to be on the look out for. Sometimes you can find those engaging in the above traffic diversions that use your brand for paid search marketing steering the clicks to a carbon copy of your site in hopes of better conversion and more sales. One other issue that’s of growing concern is plagiarism or content theft. This can actually have an effect on your ability to rank for brand related products or phrases and should be checked on occasion. Many have found the site copyscape to be useful for monitoring this sort of thing. Any company that invests in its brand needs to safeguard for online reputation management and online brand protection. Imagine what potential customers or clients may think if they search your name and find a spammy site one or two down from yours. Using free services like Google alerts can also be useful for watching out for situations like the above. Obviously having counsel and trademarks helps as well.