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by Samantha Noble on 7th July 2011
Last month my video was all about managing your brand online and this time I want to focus on how to protect your brand online. So many companies are having to combat with sites that are trying to replicate what they do. Some even go to the extent of building a site that looks exactly the same to try passing off as the competition. This guide has been put together to run through some of the tasks you can action to help protect your brand online.
I attended a conference earlier this year which was all about protecting your brand and Caroline Rolfe the Head of Online at Links of London did a talk on infringement. This year alone they have taken down over 3,000 websites selling counterfeit products on websites with similar domain names as their official brand. Counterfeit products are just one of the challenges in the online world when it comes to protecting your brand.
Register your brand name on all the social platforms including all the less known ones and populate with a unique company description and link back to your site. Mashable have put together an extensive list on their blog.
If you only own the .co.uk or .com version of your domain name, register more. There is nothing stopping someone else registering the domain and setting up a similar site or worse still a site containing adult content, which you would not want your potential customers to view by mistake.
Cybersquatters / Typosquatters
As well as considering the different top level domains, you also need to consider typos and different variations of your domain. Think about the obvious permutations and get them registered.
Page 1 Domination
Back in May, Mike Essex posted a video on his Cross Linking Strategy which is a great compliment to protecting your brand. Once you have registered all your social profiles and identities, you can use this strategy to build links to the pages to move them onto page one of the SERPs for your brand name.
Actively monitoring what people are saying about you online will ensure that you are able to act on any negative press before it gets out of hand. My video on How to Monitor Your Brand summarises some of the tools that can be used and Anna Lewis has recently done a video on using Google Analytics to monitor your brand.
Using Alt tags on images throughout your site, including your company logo will help you to appear in the Google Image search. Relevant images are also appearing in the main search results now too so good practice to ensure Alt tags are in place.
Getting individuals within your organisation to do videos which can be published online is another great way of getting your brand out there online and showing the world that you are the official site.
As with images, videos are also appearing in the main search results to which gives you further opportunity to get an additional spot on page one.
Out of all my suggestions, Wikipedia is certainly the toughest action. It is very easy to get your profile populated but chances are that as soon as you try to publish it, the moderators will take it down. Try to make the profile contain limited self-promoting information and keep trying. A link from Wikipedia is worth the effort.
You should always look to trademark your brand name as this will give you added security over your brand and although it can be a little costly, will be worthwhile in the end. Once you have your brand trademarked you can reclaim a lot of social profiles and URLs that are not registered to you.
Brands like ghd only have a handful of legitimate resellers, all the other sites are not authorised to sell their products. To help protect their brand and their customers, they have a section on their site which allows you to enter the URL of the site you are going to buy from to check whether they are a verified reseller.
This approach will not be suitable or applicable to all brands but think along similar lines and you should get this area covered.
Adding your company to all the review sites with good descriptions ensures that no one else can add your brand and portray you in a bad light. Some of the top sites include Yelp, Qype, BView, Tipped, Review Centre (for the shopping industry) and Trip Advisor (for the travel industry).
Another quick and easy way to protect your brand and company online if you have a bricks and mortar premises, is to add your business to Google Places. It is harder for someone else to claim your listing as a postcard has to be sent to the physical address in order for the listing to be verified but this just adds another layer of protection to your brand. Andy Williams has a video guide on this coming up in July.
For more information view our brand management services.