Amazon and Wikipedia own most of the world’s most valuable proper nouns. Try Googling any famous person, and you’ll get Wikipedia. Google any beloved book, and you’ll find Amazon—unless the book has been made into a movie, in which case you’ll end up with Amazon subsidiary IMDB.
Strictly speaking, there’s nothing wrong with this. Sure, it’s a shame that the world’s greatest Jane Austen expert is outranked by whoever has the most free time on Wikipedia. And I guess it’s a shame that finding out what Roger Ebert says about The Shawshank Redemption is harder than finding out what “montag813″ says about it on IMDB (for the curious: “Disgraceful that this film is ‘#1′. IMDB needs to intervene.”)
But it does mean that you’re never going to displace them without a giant directory-link-buying budget, a talented SEO campaign, and a lot of luck.
The other day, I started writing down some quotes from Rosser Reeves, who is up there with Claude Hopkins as one of the “Salesmanship in Print” greats. I did some digging, and found a few Reeves-related sources—in print and online—that hadn’t been collected and analyzed before. In an afternoon of work, I could have created the most comprehensive resource on the web for information about Rosser Reeves.
And after all that work, Wikipedia would still outrank me.
Not that it isn’t worth it to create great content. It is. Ranking one or two spots below Wikipedia still brings in lots of traffic (especially if Wikipedia links to you).
But if you want to own a proper noun, and you don’t want to spend a fortune on it—you need to invent it.