May 16, 2008

Buy Domain Names For the Long Haul

(Connectict Law Tribune - May 5, 2008)

Domain names, if you haven't heard, are the next "real estate" boom. While law firms have made up a small sector of the Internet up until now, domain name ownership is very big business. And like condos in the early 2000s, there are many speculators looking to buy up domain names and flip them for a profit when someone wants their little piece of real estate.

This speculation game is very relevant to the new lawyer (and seasoned lawyer) because now, more than ever, domain name selection has got to be part of your short- and long-term marketing plan, as well as a slice of your operating expenses.

And this real estate is no longer limited to domain names. Now you must protect your real estate in social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Failure to secure your name on these social media sites can be costly as you may find others impersonating you or pirating your following.

You might be thinking: "I don't know what kind of law I want to practice or what the future holds."

From a dollar and cents perspective this doesn't matter. If you even think you want to practice personal injury law in Connecticut, spend the $8.99 or $9.99 for one year and secure domain(s) which reflect the practice area and the state or county. (It has been proven wise to enter a geographical designation in your domain name.) Consider the language of your clients when describing why they need legal services and be creative with domain names, too. For example: (I don't know if they exist, just blue-skying); Clever URLs also act as advertising on business cards, sponsorship banners and more.

If you ultimately want to let the domain lapse in a year because your location or practice area has changed, don't renew. But plan for realistic eventualities in your future and be creative.

And certainly protect your personal name because nothing is worse than building up your credibility and people are now searching for you by name and someone else owns the domain name and it is redirected to a gambling or a porn site. (Are there issues of cybersquatting when someone buys your name and can you sue? Sure. But the point is, avoid the issue today for a few dollars rather than buying your name back for thousands of dollars or initiating a lawsuit that will cost even more to pursue.)

Tip No. l: When you start searching for URLs, don't do it on a site like GoDaddy. Do it in Google. Why? When you decide on names you want to purchase and are available, then go to a purchasing site and be prepared to purchase right then and there. I have heard too many stories where the person goes back to the purchasing site, even 10 minutes later, and the domain has been purchased. I'm not sure how the mechanism is triggered, but why risk it when there is ample opportunity to do your homework on Google?

Tip No. 2: If you buy several domain names, spend the extra money and have them all redirected to your main URL. Why? When you buy a domain you are not using, the host will park it for free but set it up as an advertising page. This stinks. Pay the money for the redirect until such time as you use or release the URL. If in the future you want to redirect a specific domain to another site or a different landing page on your main website or blog, you can do so.

Buy your domain real estate now. You'll be happy you invested.•

(For Solo Practice University E-zine subscribers, this post is an excerpted version of Lesson #12.  Lesson #12 includes numerous links and additional information which was not included in the Connecticut Law Tribune article.)