Domain misspellings: What are they worth?
Typo squatters are having a field day making money from other people’s brands. One of them might be yours.
The deal is that they look for common misspellings of a domain name, like a well-known brand or product, and monetise the domain for profit (or try and install malicious software on your browser).
It amazes me how often I find typo squatters monetising misspelled domains right under the nose of the rightful owners. There’s very little awareness by business owners about how insidious and damaging this practice actually is.
Recent examples I’ve stumbled across include: www.k-mart.com, www.krumpler.com/, www.angusandrobinson.com.au just to name a handful. Over the years though, I’ve seen hundreds. When this happens we normally refer our customers to the specialist IP law firm www.actuateip.com.au.
Many typo squatters and domain squatters are making a small fortune leveraging other people’s brands for profit. And they continue to get away with it! (Disclaimer, I’m not whiter than white either… I own www.ewetube.com.au.)
To protect yourself (and your growing brand), you do need to buy up as many misspellings as you can without breaking the bank. You can do this quite efficiently using a couple of methods.
The first is by brainstorming as many misspelled combinations as you can think up. Then you’ll need to check to see if they’ve been taken, so use a tool like www.planetdomain.com which can help you see what’s taken and what’s not.
To help with your search for misspells, use your Analytics data as this will also help you know what kind of misspells are driving traffic to your site.
I was consulting for a large eCommerce provider just this week, and in the top 10 keywords driving traffic to their website was a misspelling of their brand name. I checked to see how much revenue this misspelled keyword had generated and it was about $130,000. The first recommendation? Buy that domain.
Here’s an example on a much smaller scale using my own (personal) website.
Okay, so the real name of my personal business is Hibermate, but as you can see above there’s a misspelled keyword which in the last 30 days has delivered a modest $70 in revenue so it’s definitely worth the $35 buying the domain for a couple of years to protect my IP.
Also, you can see from the source of the traffic that most people who typed in the misspellings are from the United States, so I’ve registered the domain www.hybermate.com (US audience) and forwarded it to www.hibermate.com.
You can get really sophisticated by adding a UTM tag (or campaign tag) to the redirect to understand how much revenue has come from people typing in the misspelled domain names you own. Speak to your developer about setting this up. Then you’ll really know from your Traffic Sources/Campaigns reports (in Google Analytics) whether it’s worth renewing when it comes to re-registering the domain.
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Chris Thomas heads up Reseo, a search engine optimisation company which specialises in creating and maintaining Google AdWords campaigns and Search Engine Optimisation campaigns for a range of corporate clients.