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How buying your name as a domain name can protect your online reputation

By Will Stevens - December 6, 2016

If someone Googled your name, what would they learn about you? Would they see links to articles about your past successes or achievements, or would they be directed towards content that is less kind about you?

Being able to answer the above questions is the starting point of online reputation management. But even if everything is rosy and Googling your name returns only positive results, it still pays to be pro-active.

If someone, for whatever reason, decides to bad mouth you online, they can quickly make an impact on the search results. If they know what they’re doing, and if they’re able to purchase a domain name that matches your real name, then you could find that webpages featuring negative stories about you start showing up when someone Google you.

That’s what happened to Chris “Silver” Smith. He had his personal domain at Silvery.com – a site based on his nickname.

But then he noticed someone had set up ChrisSilverSmith.com and was ranking on Google for his name.

Chris feared that someone was building an attack site.

And although Chris’s story has a happy ending (he was able to get the owner to transfer the domain to him) things could have been a lot worse.

So what should you do to avoid this kind of situation?

Here’s how you can protect your online reputation through owning your own domain name.

1 Act now

Even if your online reputation currently looks good, it pays to act now. If you leave it until someone starts bad mouthing you, then you’ll be on the back foot.

By taking action now, it will be harder for a malicious actor to get a foothold in the search results and that’ll mean their efforts have less impact on your reputation.

2 Search for and buy relevant domain names

Even if you don’t plan on doing anything with the domain name(s) you buy right away, you’ll stop other people being able to buy the name(s). That means if someone wants to build a website that criticises you, they won’t be able to do it using your name. You can search for relevant domain names here. If you’ve got domains you’re not ready to use, you can park them and potentially earn money from them.

3 Think beyond .com

Although .com is still a great domain extension, it’s not as dominant as it once was. There are plenty of widely recognised domain extensions out there, with one of the most popular and emerging options being .co domains. Thanks to its international applicability, this trendy extension has been taken up by entrepreneurs and major enterprises alike, including Amazon, Honda, Visa and Twitter, making it an excellent alternative to .com.

Furthermore, the release of new domain extensions that focus on specific sectors and industries make it possible for you to buy a domain that is not only associated with your name, but the field you operate in as well. This is especially useful if you have a common name and someone else has already grabbed the relevant .com, with some of the most popular options including .london, .de, .store and .tech.

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Damage to your online reputation can cause a real headache

4 Make use of your domain

What’s the point of buying your own domain name if you don’t do anything with it? Building a personal site can help you rank well in Google for your own name.

You don’t need to go all out and produce a huge site packed full of content if you don’t want to. Even just a simple CV site is better than nothing.

Setting up a site will give Google something to include in its search engine results. That means you’re more like to rank for your own name.

If you do set up a site and you have more than one domain name, make sure you redirect those other domains to the one you decide to use.

5 Monitor what’s being said about you

Although having your name as a domain can help you manage your online reputation, you still need to understand what people are saying about you and your business, if you have one.

Actively monitor mentions of you name and business name around the web and on social media.

By staying on top of what’s happening, you’ll be able to cut off potential issues before they get out of hand. You can read more about online reputation management in this guide.

Summing up

We’ve seen the problems an attack on your online reputation can cause, and how easy it is to take steps to prevent a problem occurring in the first place.

Remember, Google is one of the first places people turn to when they want to know more about a person or a business. So if you leave your online reputation to chance, you run the risk of people getting the wrong impression.

Make sure you’re in control of you online reputation as much as possible. And that includes buying your own name as a domain as soon as possible.