Is it Safe to Use a Domain Containing a Trademark?

Bronwen Pollard is an Internet marketer and her husband, Matt, is a professional stock market trader.  Bronwen is the owner of several websites and makes a living through internet marketing. She has three  domains, 2 of which are fairly new sites and one that is over a year old.  Both from the UK,  Bronwen and Mark currently live in the South of France to concentrate on building their careers (and drinking lots of French wine).

Mike:  Can you give a little background on your business?

Bronwen:  I previously worked for the UK government but had a keen interest in affiliate marketing, so I left my job in 2009 and started to concentrate on Internet marketing (IM) full time. Matt has been trading the stock market for nearly 10 years, and together with his business partner, Philip Thygesen they created a stock market site to teach people how to trade the markets successfully. I currently have four people working in the team all with a role to develop or create content on the sites.

Nintendowiifitconsole was started back in 2008 when the Wii balance boards were hard to get hold of in the UK. I bought a huge stock of them and sold them through the site. Once the craze for them died down, I continued to sell Wii items but through affiliation.

Compareappleipad is a very new site which will aim to do what it says on the tin-compare all things relating to the iPad.

Stock-market-strategy (SMS) was launched in April this year and has been very successful more or less straight away with a lot of interest from potential traders wanting to learn and professional traders following their calls.

Mike:  You have three domains as mentioned above, let’s start with stock-market-strategy.com.  What is the volume of traffic this site receives?

Bronwen:  At the moment it is receiving about 2,000 unique visits a month with 40% of them returning visitors. We expect this to grow each month considering the site is only 7 months old.

Mike:  This is a membership site.  How many members do you have to date?

Bronwen:  In the words of any A lister- no comment-sorry but I would prefer not to comment on numbers in this sense.

Mike:  Any suggestions for others as to how to convert visitors to members?

Bronwen:  I make sure I target the relevant keywords so that people who are looking for the service SMS provides, finds them. Plus there is a YouTube channel dedicated to educating the trading community with over 30,000 unique upload views to its channel  which is a different and honest way to learn about the markets, which in turn makes people want to sign up and learn. There is also a free newsletter to allow the readers to become comfortable with the style of trading they adopt in their approach to the market.

SMS has a transparent approach in the free sign so members can make up their mind whether or not their strategy is right for them and can be consistently updated about the current market conditions. It’s this transparency that earns trust from people and therefore they pay to learn how to be a trader.

Mike:  Your other two sites, nintendowiifitconsole.co.uk and compareappleipad.com seem like great names for SEO purposes.  Do you have any concerns about possible trademark violations?

Bronwen:  There was some initial worry with the iPad site just because Apple has be known in the past to come down heavy on sites that use their name, but as I am promoting and only speaking positively about the iPad and I am not ripping off any logos or trademarks of theirs without crediting them first then I am not worried. Although Wii is a bit of a mouthful if you have to tell someone verbally what the site is called, it is an excellent example of a TLD working with SEO as I hit a number of major keywords solely because of the words in the domain. We don’t have any worries with trademarks with Wii as again we credit any copy to Nintendo where we can.

Mike:  Can you share the volume of traffic that these sites receive?

Bronwen:  Wii was doing very well for visits and sales, right up until Google had its latest algorithm change/messed around with some settings/ whatever else they did at the end of October, but it was generating 3,000 targeted visits month. As iPad is very new I am still in the honeymoon period Google gives new sites so I don’t have consistent numbers yet.

Mike:  Are these strictly affiliate sites?  Can you share your monthly revenue?

Bronwen:  These two sites are just affiliate sites and iPad is generating minimal amounts at the moment and Wii was earning enough to enable me to snowboard when I wanted to 🙂

Mike:  Do you have any other online marketing strategies that you follow?

Bronwen:  My whole marketing strategy currently is organic search and seeing that I don’t pay for any adverts or clicks, I am happy with the progress of the sites, especially where SMS is concerned. I am fully SEO & analytically driven with content and link acquisition being the main focus of my campaigns. As above, YouTube plays a massive part in the campaign for SMS which I will continue to do.

Mike:  Any other information you’d like to share?

Bronwen:  My aim is to build up a number of sites all with different goals, such as affiliate sites, dropship sites, niche directories plus others that I manage for clients and I am focusing my attention on becoming a professional in the organic SEO sector. Although the visits may not seem large in comparison to Amazon for example, all these visits and sales filter into one fund to make IM a worthwhile profession.

8 Comments Is it Safe to Use a Domain Containing a Trademark?

  1. domainer

    Interesting story. Didn’t apple nail a company this year running Affilate sites using apple TM domain names. They were selling apple products and etc from what I recall.

    I feel mixed in this area on domain names. I did buy a name similar to these and went out to a similar operation. made some cash in this and got in hands to the end user who is doing well.

    I need to learn some more info on this area. I would be worried some running sites like this. Would you mike? Your a developer. If a customer comes to you would you say its risky or not? I’m an expert in this area

    Glad to hear there seo and work is paying off.

    Reply
  2. Mike Sullivan

    Apple has been historically aggressive in this area. I’m no legal expert and obviously can not offer any legal advice. However, personally I do feel that using trademarked names is very risky and I would avoid it. It can be profitable but not worth the potential downstream impacts. Early on, I registered a few trademark names but let them expire as I learned more about the risks.

    Reply
  3. John

    Bronwen, nice sites … how is DevRich working for ya in regards to SEO growth? 😉

    I have a few sites also and the SEO has increased every week on their system from a initially non-index domain.

    I find their system to work best in regards to SEO for 2-3 word generics niches and long tails.

    Reply
    1. Bronwen

      Hi John,
      Thanks! When you say DevRich do you mean DevRich dot com designs? If so, I dont use them as I did use artiseer but had problems with them so am now looking for other alternatives 🙂

      Reply
  4. Joseph Slabaugh

    I like that, however as Mike said, it is still risky to spend time developing domains with tms, as Google even can de-index you for having trademarks in your domain name. That is why I would rather forward such a domain to genericname.com/trademarkedterm.html to sell that item, not to try to get that term indexed.

    Reply
  5. S2 squared

    It is risky to do without knowledge of the company but some companies realize the value of affiliates owning direct nav names with their TM in it.
    Reasons to do it? Here are two…
    1. The more people that sell the product that are independent from the company means they can have a better chance of total coverage on the first page of SERPs
    2. Dealers are valuable customer support that, again, shows the company has the confidence of a network of knowledgable dealers.

    So, there are two reasons for it. There are more pro and con.

    Reply
  6. justin

    I own several *very* strong 2-3 word domains for the iphone4 market….admittedly impulse buys.

    I haven’t done anything with them yet, but quite honestly, the Pollards’ story gives me a bit of encouragement.

    Reply

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