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Hijacking a Competitor’s Domain Name

Hijacking a Competitor’s Domain Name

Some time back we looked at the importance of keeping any domain you register alive. Allowing a third-party to register any expired domain not only assigns potential link-value back to the 'other' website (via 301 redirects, and only if links appear elsewhere on the web), but it also diminishes your brand value and enables the other entity to take control over personal emails that might be associated with the domain.

What we'll be demonstrating in this article will be a short-lived demonstration - we will not maintain what we're about to introduce longer than is necessary to prove a point. We had internal conversations about the unethical and espionage-like method that we're going to introduce, but we decided to press ahead regardless to demonstrate clear marketing mediocrity.

We've had issues in the past when brokers have had competitors introduce an alternate spelling to a domain name, or they've added an extra character in order to hijack an experience - it happens all the time, and in most cases there's no legal challenge against those that engage in the practice. Bottom line: protect your brand.

Protect Phone Numbers: A number of years ago while I was a broker myself I worked with a gentleman that owned a fax-machine repair company. When 'The Fax Doctor' went bust he picked up their phone number and his business exploded overnight (thousands of fax machines had the 'Fax Doctor' phone number sticker on their machine). Phone numbers are as valuable as domain names - don't let them go.
Protect Program and Book Names: Our 2009 guide 'The Mortgage Magnet' was hijacked by international and domestic marketing groups. If you have a program that is well-connected with your brand you should ideally register domain names and other assets to protect your interests in that program (something we haven't done for all our programs).

What did we do? We registered a domain name associated with a 'competitor' when links to this (formerly) unregistered domain name appear on their website multiple times... and on virtually every page (primarily in the footer but they pop up elsewhere). Just to be clear, numerous links on a competitor's website are now linking to this article. Again, we have no intention of maintaining the redirection any longer than necessary to prove our point.

We recently added a program provided by a company called Karbn to our Rescue Package list. After inheriting a few of their former clients it became clear that their program wasn't any more powerful than our free Funnels program (in fact it was less effective), so we researched their background in order to invite them to participate in our Industry Challenge (no identifying details, or even a phone number, could be found so this wasn't done). As part of our research we noticed that Karbn's generic website included links to 'KarbnMedia.com' - a domain that was unregistered. For any business - particularly one that shares the media space - linking to invalid pages is a debilitating SEO factor, and somewhat negligent in terms of providing a pleasurable customer experience. Linking multiple times to a domain that isn't registered is reckless.

Karbn Fail

Pictured: Screenshot of the Karbn website, 33rd March 2022. We've created a means of measuring the number of clicks to any link now redirecting to to this article. All the pictured links 'belong' to us.

Are You Karbn? If you're the operator of Karbn, get in touch with us and we'll transfer the domain to you for the initial cost and a little extra to cover a case of beer. If you're interested we'll give you some of our time so your brokers are better served by your efforts. We've simply used your error to highlight the practice we've described (we tried contacting you via your contact form but it was broken).

A small number of domains that are similar to your own business name is an essential step in preserving your brand, and every broker should invest the time into registering various .net.au, and top-level domains for cases where their brand might be left exposed. You won't be able to register them all but there's a certain number that are essential.

Featured Image: The Queensland National Bank in Mosman Street, Charters Towers, Queensland, c1920. The building was erected in 1891 and after 1949 it served as the City Hall. In 1948, the bank was taken over by the National Bank of Australasia. The bank has gone through a number of ownership changes over the years and is currently absorbed into National Australia Bank. [ View Image ]

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