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The Art of TypoSquatting A.K.A URL HiJacking

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The Art of TypoSquatting A.K.A URL HiJacking

Two students of the Harvard University recently submitted a paper on typosquatting which revealed some interesting information. It raises great interest to read how Google might be earning a hundred million through this scheme.

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Firstly, we’ll discuss what typosquatting actually is. Typo-squatting, also called URL hijacking, is a form of cybersquatting which relies on mistakes such as typographical errors made by Internet users when inputting a website address into a web browser. Should a user accidentally enter an incorrect website address, they may be led to an alternative website owned by a cybersquatter. That was the wiki definition.

TypoSquatting Examples:

When you access our blog, you might mistakenly type shoutemloud.com Now clearly this website does not exist. A study of the common typos made on account of syntax and keyboard spacing we can definitely generate a list of the most common mis-spelling for any website. For, instance ebuy for bay, gooogle for google. So, these popular errors can return revenue if there are sites hosting ads when reached using this domains. Another already existing example is forefox.com which you might mistakenly type for firefox.com

Tyler Moore and Benjamin Edelman revealed in their study that the top websites(ranking in top thousands at Alexa.com) had at least a hundred such typo domains each. More research showed that unto 68 million people a day could visit a typo site. And almost sixty percent ads were from Google. This could translate to around five hundred million dollars per year for Google. Obviously the actual amount will be slightly lesser because the rates used in the study are same as the rate of ads displayed along side searches. Here is the link to the original paper.

In fact not only does Google use this method but it is also utilized by website owners themselves. While some use typo domains to redirect it to the actual website, others earn revenue by placing ads on them. Google redirects to the real website when you type in gooogle.com.

Do tell us if you have come across previous instances of typosquatting or if you have been thinking about using it for your own website.

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Article by Rajat Kumar

Rajat has written 15 articles.

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{ 4 comments… add one }

  • TechChunks

    Great insight on the topic. Let me offer an alternate title for this posts – “How to make Money from others Typos”! :)

    Reply
  • Aaron

    If you are familiar with craigslist you’ll know it’s very popular in the United States. I made a typo(left out an S) while typing the address on a friends computer to help him place an ad. Well fortunately his kids were not in the room because the domain was definitely adult only! That domain has been bought since then and redirects to craigslist.com

    Reply
    • Rajat Kumar

      interesting share Aaron.

      Reply
  • kothapally arun

    Interesting subject. All you have to do is some keyboard analysis and common typing errors found in human beings. And then see for the top sites which gets huge direct traffic. Just cashin on it.

    Reply

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