Typo errors generate small fortune for Google
Have you ever mistyped a URL, only to be taken to a site with related advertising. Such an event has become known as “typosquatting”. Companies and individuals were quick to register domain names such as http://www.goggle.com, http://www.mocrosoft.com and http://www.amazan.com. Typosquatting relies on misspelling a word, or accidentally hitting a key adjacent to the intended one.
“barackobama.com” has a typosquatting index of 19%. The squat popularity factor is the fraction of the most important typo variations of the domain name that are registered by cyber squatters. Such variations include: baackobama.com, baraackobama.com and baracobama.com
Many of the sites earn money from Google’s keyword-generated advertising network. However, a study at Harvard University reveals that Google itself may be benefiting from these typos to the sum of $500 million a year. The approach was thorough. First an exhaustive list of likely typing errors for the 3,264 most popular .com websites, as determined by Alexa ranking, was created. The researchers then came up with as many as 280 alternatives for each site, generating a total of around 900,000 potential URLs. Custom software then crawled around 280 000 of the sites estimating the likely revenue that could be generated, and this was extrapolated to the full set of URLs.
The researchers based their calculations on the fact that patterns seen in the sample would be consistent with the web as a whole. They estimated that as many as 68 million people a day visit mistyped URLs. The study showed that around 57 per cent of these sites use Google’s pay-per-click advertising. If all the facts and assumptions are realistic, then the search giant could be earning as much as $497 million a year from the results. Google’s response was to say they would remove advertising from any of these sites, but only if requested to do so. To put the suggested figure of half a billion dollars in to perspective, last year Google’s revenues were $23 billion, of which some 97% came from advertising.