Domain Name Squatting: The Newest Hot-Button Issue Of Domain Registration
Think there’s no such thing as squatting on the internet? Think again. Domain name squatting has been getting increased criticism as this questionable practice receives more widespread attention worldwide.
What is domain name squatting? Well, think about what traditional property squatting is. People move into a space and live there; it may not technically be their property, but no one was using it. Domain name squatting is similar. Someone buys the domain name of a high profile individual; it’s not actually their own name, but no one had bought the rights to the URL, so nothing stopped them from creating a site there.
But that’s where the differences end. While itinerant squatters are generally just looking for a free place to live, domain name squatters are looking to profit from snapping up the name. Why would someone pay a lot of money to recover a domain for a site they had no previous intention to build? Well, because it may be damaging for that domain name to exist under the control of someone else.
When a person’s name is the entire domain name, it will perform very well in the search engines when that name is searched for; after all, it’s a perfect match. Domain name squatters may even pursue SEO to get the name ranking highly. When it comes up on the top, they can redirect visitors to damaging pages, including inappropriate content, sites with poor security reputations, and competitors’ websites. This can be incredibly damaging to the person whose name has been ‘squatted,’ so they may be willing to pay high sums of money to gain domain registration control over the address.
To clarify, this is not the same as buying a domain name and building a brand around it, then selling it to a company or business who would benefit from owning that name. If you buy a domain name that you think will be potentially popular or useful to a company down the line, but it’s not a trademarked name or the name of an individual person, that’s one thing. But if you buy a domain name with the sole purpose of pressuring that person to buy it from you to avoid negative branding, that can be considered extortion and is against internet protocol.
Knowing the risk of domain name squatting is a good argument for buying up domain names similar to your own name or your business name. There’s no guarantee that someone will squat it if you don’t buy it, but there is a guarantee that they can’t squat if you get to it first.