Brand Marketers: Did You Know Your Legal Department Is A Potential SEO Partner?
Many of the legal departments for successful companies have a well defined domain strategy to manage brand assets, facilitate go-to-market initiatives, and halt trademark infringement and criminal activities.
Part of this process is to monitor the registration of domains that contain a trademark, determine if the domain is being used illegally (i.e. cybersquatting, false association, commerce), and if it is, initiate steps to acquire the domain.
Because the internet makes it easy to create fraudulent storefronts and consumers are conditioned to trust brand names and logos, this is a primary business concern that affects the bottom line and brand reputation.
I will discuss domain acquisition in detail on another post. What I want to illustrate here is how the successful acquisition of domains by the legal department has a hidden bonus for online marketing initiatives, specifically SEO efforts.
With all things equal, the one deciding SEO factor that ranks one web page over other web pages in the search engines is incoming links. It is a little more complex, but consider links from outside websites to your web pages as “votes” for your web pages in the eyes of the search engines.
This factor is known as link popularity, Google calls it PageRank, and many in my industry describe the affect of incoming links as “link juice.”
Another way to transfer link popularity is to forward a web page with a lot of “link juice” to another page using a redirect. The result when executed properly is a boost in search engine rankings.
Let’s examine a real world example using health/weight loss brand Herbalife. I did some research this morning and skimmed through some 2,000 registered domains which contain the Herbalife trademark (an essential weekly duty to protect your brand).
I soon found one that is not authorized by corporate, and is leveraging the Herbalife trademark to generate revenue. Here is a screenshot of www.fast-weight-loss-herbalife.com:
The next step is to identify the owner. Let’s take a look at Who Is information and learn more about this domain. The screen shot below illustrates that this domain has been registered since April 2001, and contact details are private. The registrar, Domains by Proxy (Godaddy), can be contacted by the trademark holder to uncover the identity of the domain owner. Their Terms of Service state this clearly.
If Herbalife were to have trouble reaching the domain owner, or the domain owner refused to transfer the domain, Herbalife’s legal team could file a UDRP to acquire the domain through legal means.
The last step is to evaluate if there is any SEO benefit by forwarding this domain to an Herbalife web asset. The screenshot below examines how many incoming links the infringing domain has pointing to it. As you can see there are over one thousand incoming links which will have the impact of transfering link popularity to which ever Herbalife web page it would be redirected to.
There you have it, your Legal department can be a partner in your SEO efforts! I have used this strategy for several clients with impressive results. Build a relationship with your legal team and enhance your SEO initiatives.