Do you already have the ideal domain name? Your web address is a vital element of your brand, and a critical thing to get right. Of course, you can register a domain that sums up your business, organisation or identity – and when you want your website to appeal to a local audience, a country-specific ending like .co.uk or .uk is perfect. But building your online presence doesn’t stop there.
Put simply, one domain isn’t enough. It’s usually a good idea to register several to guarantee the availability of your site when users type different spellings or domain endings. There’s also the risk that if you don’t register a domain associated with your brand, someone else will.
Thankfully, it’s becoming easier to secure your brand across different web addresses. The .uk domain, for example, now offers a simple way for .co.uk website owners to ensure that they don’t fall victim to domain squatting.
What is domain squatting?
Also known as cybersquatting or URL hijacking, domain squatting is when a web address is registered by one party to deny it from another. Domain squatters identify names of companies, products or individuals likely to be in demand, and quickly register them before anyone else has a chance.
Squatters’ motives vary, but their most common goals are to sell the domains on at inflated prices, or monetise the traffic they receive. In more serious cases, squatted domains are used for phishing or malware attacks – by tricking unsuspecting users with what look like legitimate URLs.
A primary domain squatting tactic is to look for minor variations on existing domains and grab them. This means adding extra characters, registering a trademark with common misspellings (known as ), or using different domain endings that could be mistaken for the one on the real site. Squatters targeting favouritewebsite.com might snap up favoritewebsite.com, favourite-website.com, or favouritewebsite.co, for example.
Fortunately, domain providers do offer safeguards to prevent cybersquatting – and .uk is a great example of this.
How .uk helps you secure your brand
While .co.uk is rightly valued as a trusted domain for British businesses, there’s now a shorter, fresh and distinctive alternative in the form of .uk. The .uk domain offers great opportunities for brands looking to appeal to local and global audiences – but what about the threat of cybersquatting? Looking so similar to .co.uk, it’s not a stretch to imagine .uk being exploited.
The good news is that .uk provides a mechanism for anyone with an existing .co.uk to beat the squatters. When .uk was launched back in 2014, rights of registration were reserved for the owners of UK domains (.co.uk, .me.uk, .org.uk, etc.) for five years. This means you have until 10th June 2019 to claim the .uk equivalent of any .co.uk domain you already have – but after that date, the .uk version will become available to anyone.
To prevent squatters getting their hands on a .uk domain matching your brand, we highly recommend registering your .uk as soon as possible. Right now, it couldn’t be easier or cheaper, with Fasthosts offering .uk domains free for one year for all customers with corresponding .co.uk web addresses. To learn more, visit our or contact us any time – we’ll be happy to advise you on the best ways to secure your online brand.