As you may or may not know, the well-known web extensions (like .com, .net., and .org) recently added a new member to their family… or maybe an estranged cousin. That’s because the new “.xxx” domains went on sale, supposedly to give adult-themed websites their own designation, taking away the need for them to use up more of the already crowded .com market.

A funny thing happened, however: Most of the .xxx domains that were purchased weren’t intended for those types of websites. In fact, they weren’t intended to be used at all – instead they were bought by individuals, companies, and even educational organizations that wanted to prevent adult content from being placed on any domain that contained an important brand or product keyword.

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At the front of the charge was the University of Kansas, which reportedly spent thousands of dollars snapping up .xxx domains with anything close to the school’s name, as well as its well-known “Jayhawk” mascot. While this might sound like a bit of an extreme step to prevent others from using your brand in unintended ways, dozens of other colleges and businesses have already acknowledged that they have followed suit.

What’s more, there’s a good chance that this sort of thing is only going to become more prevalent in the future. It may be that the University of Kansas is actually leading the rest of the world when it comes to the quickly growing field of online reputation management.

While you might not be as prominent as the University of Kansas is, there are few things you can learn from their example:

Your name and brand have value. If searchers are regularly looking for your products, locations, or especially name services, then make sure that traffic is coming your way. Simple search engine optimization campaigns, domain checks, and other basic techniques should be more than enough to ensure that visitors who mean to find you can do so easily.

It pays to look out for potential threats to your online reputation. The best part about the University of Kansas’s approach to this whole situation, whether they went too far or not, is that they were being proactive. You should do the same, regularly checking search engines, review sites, and social media profiles to keep an eye on what customers, employees, and even competitors are saying about your company over the Internet.

Online, a good offense can be the best defense. Even if you have a dominant search engine position and online presence, it may be a good idea to look for any available domains that would be a close match for your company, or could invite competition in your area – online or geographically. Registering the most obvious of these isn’t expensive, but it can stop another company from moving in next door, virtually speaking.

Early estimates suggest that several times more .xxx domains were sold in the first few days to companies buying them defensively than to actual adult website operators. But, in the growing world of online reputation management, a little bit of caution can sometimes be a great thing.