I got a political brochure in the mail today, and it was a nasty piece of work. Perhaps the worst part is that the URL for their attack web site is the candidate’s name, as in “JohnSmith.com.”
Many times, people looking for information will simply enter the name of a person or company followed by “.com.” Voters wanting to learn about the candidate may enter his name and end up on a site set up by his political enemies. People who do not read the attack brochure carefully may even think that the “JohnSmith.com” site is the candidate’s official site.
Fortunately for this politician, when you do a Google search on his name, his real campaign site comes up first and the attack site was not in the top results. However, you can not be certain that this will happen if you are ever the victim of this kind of identity theft.
You may think that you do not need to own <yourname>.com. You do business under a company name, and you do not ever plan to run for office, so why do you need to register your name as a domain name?
Well, even if those things are true today, they may not be in the future. And if you decide you want to own the URL of your name, you do not want to discover that someone else owns it. Especially if that someone else is a political opponent or someone else who may use the site maliciously.
It is possible to dispute another party’s ownership of the URL of your name; however, that will probably not do this politician any good as it is unlikely to be resolved before the election. Plus, it is a pain in the rear to have to deal with the dispute resolution process. Is it worth $10 a year to avoid that?
It is also possible that the person who claims “your” domain name will have just as much right to it as you. If they share your name you would have a hard time convincing anyone that you have more right to the URL than they.
When I registered my first domain name, I did not register my name. At that time registrations were much more expensive and I did not see a reason to claim my name. However, a couple of years later, I noticed that someone was buying a lot of names of prominent Internet personalities. I decided I should strike before I became prominent enough to be a target for a squatter.
For a while, I pointed this URL at IdeaLady.com, my primary site. When I decided to set up a blog, CathyStucker.com seemed like the right URL to use. When I changed IdeaLady.com to a WordPress blog, I rolled CathyStucker.com back into IdeaLady.com.
Also think about registering common misspellings. Lots of people spell my name with a ‘K’ so if you try to go to KathyStucker.com, you will end up here.
Not sure what you should do with the URL of your name? Why not create a business card site?
And once you have your URL registered, start thinking about your identity on social media sites. Although there can be an unlimited number of “John Smith”s on Facebook, on Twitter there can be only one. Do your best to lock up your name, business name or nickname in as many places as possible.