A scientific approach to typosquatting

Typosquatting can occur when someone registers a misspelling of your domain name in the hope that your customers will mistype the domain name in their web browser and land on that someone’s website. (Apparently, a significant portion of people who do so then click on a link on the typosquatted website, thus generating pay per click advertising revenues for the site ‘squatter’.)

Apart from the potential diversion of custom, FairWinds Partners also makes the point that typosquatting can harm the reputation of the brand.  As an example they speculate about the impact on Disney’s customers if they landed on a typosquatted page promoting pornography.

Recognising that it is not feasible to register every possible variation of your domain name to defend against such practices, FairWinds Partners have published a attempt to analyse typosquatting scientifically.

The study looked at 3,000 top level domains that had more than 2,000,000 hits per month.  From this universe, they found that most typosquatting appears to fall into 1 of 10 categories.  They also concluded that the typosquatters were targetting domain names fairly scientifically.

Apart from typosquatting, FairWinds Partners notes that consideration should be given to registering the domain name in other tlds –  e.g. consider .biz and .net, not just .com; also consider country specific domains. This, however, is already problematic – there are already 21 gTLDS, not to mention of the country specific ccTLDS such as .com.au and .co.uk etc.  And its going to get much worse with ICANN, in the interests of competition and diversity no less, planning to allow a potentially unlimited number of tlds.

Download the paper here (pdf).

Other research suggests that about 10% of internet searches don’t land on their expected destination (Lid dip Marty).

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