Cracking Down on Garbitrage

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Internet giant Overstock.com has had enough of typosquatters profiting off misspellings of their URL. Via Internet Retailer, “Adept online shoppers aren’t all great typists. One slip of a finger can send a shopper to sites registered to others who want to use that accidental traffic for their own purposes, such as advertising or collecting keyword payments on the errant clicks. To clean up its affiliate program and reduce the negative effects of such “typosquatting” on URLs close to its own, Overstock.com has been using the beta release of a new hosted service called Typosquasher recently launched by technology vendor CitizenHawk Inc.”

What a great concept. I love this. Typosquatting makes up a large percentage of PPC garbitrage traffic. Not all such traffic is bad for advertisers, especially if you’re a reseller of the brand in question. However, typosquatting on trademarked domains is frustrating, and borders on deception, in my opinion. We’ve seen a few typosquatters on our domains, and it’s annoying to realize we just paid for those clicks via our PPC ads, instead of getting the traffic directly for free. And it definitely confuses visitors. My 10-year-old daughter recently was looking for a kids web site she’d seen advertised on TV. She didn’t remember the exact URL, so she tried typing a few into the address bar. She called me over to look at what she’d found, and there it was – a page full of garbitrage, and not all of it child-friendly. (For those of you who are wondering: yes, we had a repeat performance of the “internet safety” chat after this little escapade.)

I’m curious to see how things pan out with CitizenHawk. They have a tool on their site where you can test the service for free. It told me that there are 72 potential squatters on our MagazineLine.com domain, and at least some of them are monetizing the traffic. I think CitizenHawk has a great business idea. Let’s hope it pans out for them.

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