Typosquatting targets internet users who incorrectly type a website address into their web browser. For example, domain names that might be bought for the purpose of typosquatting the site www.sample.com could be wwwsample.com, sampl.com, or sanple.com. The logic behind this methodology is to capture users who misspell a word which would then land them at the typosquatter’s domain instead of the merchant’s domain. This has a high conversion rate as the user believes that they have landed on the merchant’s site.
Forms of Typosquatting
Typosquatting domains are commonly displayed in pay-per-click advertisements. Many of these websites partner with major ad platforms, such as Google Adsense for Domains, to sell ad space to advertisers and collect payment for those ads. Usually the top ad on a typosquatted site will be for the merchant’s trademarked site, i.e. the top ad on www. sampl.com would be for www.sample.com. This often results in the merchant paying both the ad platform and the owner of the misspelled domain for traffic they would have acquired via organic or their own paid search efforts.
Another common form of typosquatting is for an affiliate to set 301 redirects to the intended site on a typosquatted domain. During this redirect, they will drop a cookie on the user’s browser, which will attribute that sale to them.
Lastly, a typosquatter can target a merchant by using a typosquatted domain to redirect to a competitor’s site. Some typosquatted domains of popular sites automatically redirect the user to another site that performs a similar service. If they are redirected to a different but similar looking site, the user may end up completing their purchase from them instead of the merchant they originally attempted to reach.
Resolutions for Typosquatting
The first step is to implement practices to prevent typosqautting. Merchants can do this by registering misspellings of their domain name, purchasing a wide variety of domain names similar to the trademarked one, and setting these sites up to auto-redirect to the correct site.
The UDRP also provides a process for quick recovery of a domain if:
- You can prove that the domain is similar enough to the trademark as to be confused by some users
- That the typosquatter has no legitimate interest in the name
- That the name is being used in bad faith.
Pursuing action through these channels can be a drawn-out process requiring a lawyer but there are also various domain recovery programs, such as Alias Encore and CitizenHawk that can help with this process. Both of these companies can be added to your program as affiliates, and they work to recover your domains via the commission rate of which they receive commission on all sales that pass through those pages for a set period of time--often one or two years.