Written by Pat Lilja, senior consultant

Hundreds of new Top-Level Domains (TLD’s) are joining the likes of .com, .org, and .net, including .sucks. Some businesses now are wondering, with the availability of this TLD for purchase among the Internet trolls effective June 19, should I invest in a new domain to protect my brand, reputation or organization?

It costs $20 or less per year to secure a traditional web address like .com or .net; however the .sucks domain cost $2,500 to acquire before these domains go live in mid-June. Once the TLD’s are open to all Internet users, companies will be charged approximately 20 times more than individuals when acquiring a .sucks domain.

Many large brands have not been willing to go on the record as to whether they will buy the .sucks domain, but some major brands like Nike, Timex and Converse are known to have done so. At Tunheim, we believe in registering TLD’s for owned brands as a defensive practice if an organization is large enough to afford it, like Nike.

However, keeping up with TLD purchasing and domain name purchasing under each TLD (e.g. sony.sucks, sonytvs.sucks, sonyplaystation.sucks, sonyplaystation3.sucks, sonyps3.sucks, sonyps4.sucks, etc.) can end up being a very expensive game.

And it may not be a game worth playing or trying to win.

When thinking about .sucks domains specifically, the utility of owning a .sucks TLD may be inconsequential — from a search engine perspective, it is best to buy XXXBRANDsucks.com than XXXBRAND.sucks under Google’s current search algorithm. As the cost of registering the many varieties of domains and TLD’s increases, the utility of doing it has actually gone down.

Generally, the best approach in protecting a brand is having good content on a brand’s primary sites so these sites rank well against outside content.

Remember, brands have already lost control of what people say on Twitter (which Google will soon be returning as results), Facebook, forums and blogs. And anyone can craft a URL to attack a brand. For example, Sony can buy sonysucks.com and sony.sucks, but someone can just register sonyreally.sucks or sonyreallysucks.com.

Content is still king: Creating and publishing high-quality content will ensure an entity’s brand rises to the top of search rankings above malicious sites. An entity should register any TLD that would be useful. For example, a hotel should register .com, .org, .hotel, etc.

Our one caveat: Public officials and other public figures that rely on their Internet presence to manage a personal brand should buy relevant .sucks domains to protect their personal brand online. Taylor Swift is one example of a public persona who pre-emptively chose to buy a .sucks and .porn domain, and for her brand, it was likely the right decision.

What do you think of the greater availability of TLD’s? While some have said they can provide better brand affinity, such as the .luxury domain now used by brands like Gucci, others have found the new domains to be confusing for the typical user or search experience.

Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

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