Watching Dragons’ Den on BBC2 last night, I found myself literally shouting at the TV at one of the prospective investments. It was a website that has video recipes for people to watch and follow on the domain name ifoods.tv.

The two candidates stated they had approx 15,000 unique impressions per month, which is a lot for a site that has yet to really take off, with the majority of the traffic coming from the USA. That final fact surprised a couple of Dragons, and myself, seeing as they were based in Ireland.

However, it soon became clear how they had achieved such good traffic levels and why so many came from the USA. They were essentially trading on typos from a popular US-based site called ifood.tv (singular compared to the other site’s plural).

Even a search in Google for ifood puts the two next to each other and it was clear that their strategy was to filter traffic looking for ifood.tv to their ifoods.tv site. When asked if they would be willing to change the name, they said it would be too difficult and that they could not (that’s when I started shouting at the TV).

My two points are:

  1. If you want to build a brand and a site that has its own identity, do not use domain names that are purposefully similar to existing and popular sites. You will always be considered a rip off or underhand, and never the genuine article. I would put money on their bounce rate being very high
  2. Their statement that to change the name would be too difficult was plain wrong. £2.79 for a co.uk or £30.95 for a .tv, maybe £200 for a new logo from a pro designer, and a simple 301 redirect which would have redirected all incoming links in the search engine’s eyes to the new domain, and it’s done.

I am sure their traffic has spiked today since the show, and I can see they have added advertising to the site (when the show was filmed they had no advertising), but it will always be ‘that site that is like ifood.tv’ rather than a brand standing on its own two feet.

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Comment

8 Responses

  • Lee

    I watched that too and tuned into their live chat later that night on radio 5 live. They even had a caller, a web designer who offered to do their site for free but they declined. The site is just pure typo traffic. And its a bit skew-wiff in Firefox.

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    August 21, 2008 at 3:01 am
  • Herry

    Not only is the name a ripoff, the site design and functionality also look like a copy. Robert has done a good analysis to compare the two and the results are for all to see ..

    http://www.robertgowans.com/archives/17

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    August 21, 2008 at 10:03 pm
  • Claire "Blog Angel" Raikes

    “… do not use domain names that are purposefully similar to existing and popular sites. You will always be considered a rip off or underhand, and never the genuine article.”

    Like the company who’ve piggy-backed 123 HYPHEN reg’s success… I recommended you to a client. She found the copy-cat company (no hyphen) and now they are charging her for every little thing (web forwarding, email forwarding etc.). We’re trying to transfer it to you guys, but there Domain Lock timer seems to reset itself just before the process completes. Nightmare.

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    August 26, 2008 at 1:39 pm
  • Matt

    Claire

    We have had a history of people registering similar sounding domain names and it can be very frustrating to be on the end of this. Where we feel we have a case we will take up the matter with the relevant bodies, however, in some cases we have to put up with it. I think thats why I empathised so much with the team at ifood.tv

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    August 28, 2008 at 11:44 am
  • Mark

    The answer is to register your brand as a trademark. With a registered mark you can often force copycats to hand over their domain to you. Any trademark attorney can provide advice on this.

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    September 5, 2008 at 9:36 am
  • Jack Wallington

    Interestingly, they have now changed their name and domain!

    http://www.lookandtaste.com/

    Perhaps they read your article Matt :o)

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    July 19, 2009 at 7:40 pm
  • Jordan

    Do 123-reg allow 301 redirects for customers who have only purchased domains? I read only 302s were available?

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    January 20, 2010 at 1:13 pm
  • Jordan

    Second result on Google for “123-reg 301 redirects”. Slightly ironic that a 123-reg article says to 301 if this is true!

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    January 20, 2010 at 1:16 pm