Guess where you land if you go enter JebBush.com in your web browser?
Note: When this post was published in February 2016, jebbush.com redirected to DonaldJTrump.com. Since then, the redirect has been removed.
Oops. That’s not good for Jeb and his followers. The Trump campaign doesn’t own or control the domain, according to the The Washington Post.
Domains can be purchased through proxy services, as was this one, so the owner’s identity is not know.
All we know is that Jeb Bush and his campaign don’t own JebBush.com, and that’s a yuuuuuuuge problem.
The redirect has been in place since early December 2015. Now, more than two months later, media have noticed and the redirect prank is hot news. That’s terrible news for a Bush campaign which has been clobbered by Trump.
Bush is not the only victim of such redirect pranks. Enter TedCruzForAmerica.com in your browser and you land here:
Not what Ted Cruz wants as he deflects Trump’s claims that he’s not eligible to run for President because he was born north of the border.
Here’s The Washington Post article that catalogs several political URL redirects.
So why should this matter to marketers? Because the same thing could happen to you.
Sure, we don’t operate in the rough and tumble world of politics. And Donald Trump is not your foe (I hope).
But domain hijacking is a real problem for businesses — especially popular brands. Even if your brand is not widely known, domain squatters may purchase versions of your domain (such as the .net or .info versions or a common misspelling of your brand name). Why? So they can redirect traffic where they want. It might be a site where they can install malware. It might be an e-commerce site. It might be a porn site. It might be a page that says, “This domain is for sale.” You might land there and think, “Darn! I should have bought this when I had a chance.”
You can purchase a domain for $10-20/year. We recommend you grab several — the .net, .org, .info and others associated with your domain.
A confession: We didn’t think to buy “MarketBolt.com” (with a “B”) when we established our business in 2001. We wish we had. Because many years after we established the business, another company called MarketBolt was founded. They don’t compete with us directly, but they are a marketing platform, and it is possible/probable that people looking for us accidentally land on MarketBolt.
In retrospect, not buying that domain back in 2001 was a huge mistake.