Domain Squatting in Google Apps

You want a unique domain name? You register it. If the name is not already taken, it can be yours for a price – indefinitely.

And this is what squatters do: buy high-value domain names in the hopes that (a) they’ll make tons of money from direct traffic; or (b) someone else will eventually want the domain name and they’ll be able to sell it at a premium.

So, once you have this domain name, you can pretty much do anything you want with it – and it’s about the closest thing we have to an identity marker on the Internet today. You should be in full control of what happens with or on that domain name until you decide you don’t want it anymore.

Say you want to start tracking more about how your Web site is doing in Google. I would most certainly recommend that you sign up for the free Google Webmaster Tools. From there, you can add as many domain names as you want to monitor – provided you can verify that you actually own the domain names you’re wishing to keep track of and control. That makes sense, huh?

I mean, why would Google allow you to configure options for domains you don’t have the rights to control?

But that’s what they’re enabling via a gigantic loophole in their Google Apps for Domains service – currently allowing any user to squat on a domain name in their system without first requiring verification. Ouch.

We discovered that someone was squatting on within the Google Apps for Domains system. This means we couldn’t actually start using their service without first asking Google to relinquish the name to us – a name which we can readily verify, not the individual(s) who already laid claim in their system.

If you need me to put a finer point on why this is a problem, we reserved in much the same manner – of course, we don’t intend on keeping the domain managed in Google’s system for the Seattle Times, and will absolutely pass it to someone within their own ranks as soon as we know who needs to manage it. We can’t do anything with it other than cause the Seattle Times and Google to waste time. We snagged it to further illustrate the problem, not to cause headaches for anybody. Hell, we love both Google AND the Seattle Times. 😉

To me, this is an oversight that can be remedied by reordering the process – managing new accounts in Google Apps for Domains much like Google does for its excellent Webmaster Tools suite. Not doing so is… well, it’s just kinda hard to believe that nobody else has reported on this matter yet.

We’re hoping that Google sees this as an issue that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

UPDATE: Now, according to an official Google PR representative, a domain which is reserved on the system without validation after 14 days, reverts to an unreserved domain. Still, this doesn’t make sense – an undue inconvenience, to say the least. Someone has been sitting on in Google Apps for Domains since 2008.