Domain Registration: Tips for Indie Developers:
Want to feel old? This month, the World Wide Web turned 25 years old. So much has changed since March, 1989, it’s almost scary. Super Mario Bros. 3 had yet to be released, Hulk Hogan was somewhat young, and Seinfeld had yet to make its debut episode. What’s crazier? Pay phones were still the predominant method of calling away from home, encyclopedias were the source of research among students, and sending someone some mail literally meant going to the post office and shipping a letter/package.
We live in a different world – and it’s thanks to the Internet and technology as a whole. Since the dawn of the Web, it has also become insanely easy to create your own website and have it live in one afternoon. If you are an indie developer and you have read most of my past posts, you will know that when it comes to marketing your brand, I always emphasize that you need to have your own website as soon as possible. While this is certainly true, one dimension I have never really delved into is domain registration.
Thus, the topic of today’s post. Registering the proper domain name and keeping tabs on said domains is crucial to ensuring that your brand gets as many eyes as possible. Use the following tips below to make your domains work for you.
Consider registering every possible domain name associated with your brand
This first tip can be costly, but it may save your ass one day. As an indie developer, your games and your brand as a whole will be in the public eye at all times – and there is no way to avoid this fact. Whether only a few people play your games or a few million, your games/brand are prime targets for ridicule, praise – whatever. Thus, you need to protect them, and the best way to do this is to register as many high-profile domains associated with your games and your overall brand as you possibly can.
What do I mean by this? Let’s use an example. Assume your studio is named ‘ACME Games,’ and one day you anger a customer by refusing a refund. Let’s assume you have the right to refuse the refund and the complaint of the customer really wasn’t your fault. The customer is irate knowing he/she will not be getting a refund, so to retaliate, the individual purchases a domain name ‘acmegamessucks.com,’ sets up a website, and uses a few SEO practices to ensure their domain name is the first in the search results of Google. Therefore, whenever someone searches for ‘ACME Games’ or other keywords based on your other studio’s games, ‘ACME Games Sucks’ is on the front page of the results every time.
How do you think that is going to affect the buy rate of your games? If this disgruntled customer is ranking his website based on keywords based around your studio and its games, this person can say anything he/she wants to whether it’s true or not. You have to know that customers interested in reading about your studio’s games are going to click on the ‘Sucks’ link, and what they read is based entirely on what the disgruntled customer wants them to read. If he/she can make a compelling argument for why your studio does suck (despite how false the information may be), this could drastically drive away many of your potential customers.
Now you may be asking yourself, “why would anyone do this?” It’s a fair question, but it happens all the time – and frequently. In fact, a lot of people make a living providing ‘reputation management’ services to businesses to protect them from vicious attacks such as these that could hurt their business.
So what can you do? To start, purchase these domains below:
- [yourstudio’sname]sucks.com (.org,.net).
- [yourstudio’sname]lies.com (.org,.net).
- [yourstudio’sname]scam.com (.org,.net).
Do the same with your game’s names as well. And while you’re at it? Do the same for your actual name as well. It could be expensive, but you will glad you own these domains when a disgruntled customer attempts to purchase a slanderous domain name to harm your bottom line.
Renew your domains early
While this sounds like a ‘no kidding’ tip, you would be surprised how many people forget to register their domain names and let them expire. The rule of thumb is to renew all of your domain names one month before they are set to expire. By doing so, if there are any hangups with payments, a problem on their end, etc., they can be handled before the months is up. Never wait until the last minute to register your domain names once again. Believe me: you’ll hate yourself if you let this happen.
Do your research
If there is one thing on the Web that isn’t created equally, it’s registrars (an organization which process domain name registrations, transfers, renewals, etc.). Not to be confused with web hosting companies (that’s an entirely different topic for another time), registrars handle the actual registering of the domain name, renewing, and so on. They’re a fairly important step when registering your domain name, so do some research and find which one is best for you by browsing reviews among past and present customers. Namecheap, Gandi, and Hover are great registrars to start.
Ensure your domain is actually available
Another common sense tip, many people fail to think about if a domain name is actually available before they name their company. For establishments that depend solely on local business, this isn’t too big of a deal. But when you depend on worldwide business, you need to ensure that finding your studio’s website is as easy as ‘acmegames.com.’
And if it isn’t? Then you need to heavily consider changing your studio’s name – especially if you are just starting your venture into the industry. An easy-to-remember domain name is important, and this goes for the names of your games as well. If you cannot purchase a domain name that has your games’ title in the domain name followed by .com (or even .net), then consider changing the name of the game before publishing.
Do you have any questions/comments about registering a domain name(s) for your indie game(s)/studio? Let us know in the comments below!