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PortugueseDomains.com case study - How to make serious money with type-in traffic

(07/01/2015 9:43 pm)

Christopher Hofman Laursen
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When I recently checked our Google Analytics stats for this website, I saw something interesting.

type-in traffic domain

We forward the domain name portuguesedomains.com to our page about .pt domains at europeandomaincentre.com.

What you see in the screenshot above is an order made from someone for EUR 175 at our site. The way he found our service was by typing Portuguesedomains.com in his browser's address bar - and BANG - ended up on our product page for Portuguese domains and ordered a five year registration.

That's not all.

He subsequently made two more orders over the next weeks at a total of EUR 1.306!

This is not a unique example. We also got new clients in 2014 from other type-in traffic domains.

Here are some of them. The stats are for the year of 2014. Column one is number of visits. Column two is number of orders and column three is the total turnover.

The definition of type-in traffic

Of all the sales channels type-in traffic is possibly the fastest way to get an order from a new client, who has never heard about you before.

Type-in traffic is a term describing visitors landing on a website by entering a keyword or phrase (with no spaces) and ending it with .com or another domain name extension in the browser's address bar. It's direct navigation, where you skip the search engine and jump directly to a web page with the expected content.

Sure, most people will of course use Google to find your product, however there are some who will type in the guessed keyword(s).com domain name in the address bar browser. According to a recent study Global Domain Name Preferences Survey from Consultancy Now domain names continue to be highly relevant to typical internet users even in 2015. Of the 5.000 respondents 85% still typed in a domain name in the browser's address bar part of the time.

As an example someone might type in iphone5covers.com to buy an Iphone 5 cover. Or if you're interested in a local service, you might use the country code TLD. Looking for a pizza in my hood I could search for pizzafrederiksberg.dk (if I didn't know that they make the best one at Pizzeria Made in Italy, if you're ever in Copenhagen).

The keyword(s) in a type-in traffic domain is not necessarily a generic term. It could easily be a trademark. Be aware though that including a third party's trademark is usually an infringement unless it's Nominative fair use.

Type-in traffic has been a lucrative business for the last 15 years. There are businesses focussing solely on this niche. They normally manage +100.000 domain names, which make money, every time users click on ads on the various landing pages. As an example Name Development Ltd., situated in the British Virgin Islands, generated montly 17 million visits only via type-in traffic in 2004, when they were acquired by Marchex for no less than USD 164M.

What's the profile of a type-in traffic user?

I think this is an interesting question. There are no studies that I'm aware of, so here is my best guess.

There are two profiles:

1) The PC illiterate user. The same type who would also type in a web address in a Google search bar.

2) An impatient user who wants to skip any unnecessary steps, and just get things done. He/she's ready to swipe the credit card, if your landing page delivers the required information.

Your type-in traffic tactic

Just as we did, you can get orders directly from the right type-in traffic. You need to make sure that you have some decent landing pages, which answer the users intentions and provide the necessary action wanted (sign up to newsletter, get an offer, order a product etc.).

As shown above you can get orders from pretty long two, three or four words .com domains redirected to specific, relevant pages on your website. This is important to know, since a premium domain will cost a lot to get your hands on, and probably isn't even such a good investment. Don't get me wrong. Premium domains can get a lot of type-in traffic. We would be very happy, if we owned domain.com, domains.com or domainregistration.com. However the traffic is not laser targetted.

99% of type-in traffic comes from .com domain extensions, so don't get a .net or .org. A ccTLD can also be put to good use, if it's a local service, as in the pizza example above.

Basically, all the best .com domains are gone, but not all the two, three or four words ones. Admitted, these domain names will not bring in volumes of traffic, however that's not the point here. One conversion could be sufficient. Over the last two years we only got 30 visits to the website via Portuguesedomains.com. That's around one visit per month. Still the domain name managed to bring in EUR 1.300 in 2014 alone, as I demonstrated at the beginning of the post.

As with any form of marketing, there's a risk that your investment will fail. On the other hand you can go ahead and register a few .com domain names to test the waters. If it doesn't work, then you expire the domains after a year.

On the contrary if it does work for you, then you suddenly have a new sales channel and are able to identify which domain names can give you the valuable type-in traffic. Your competitors are surely not aware of this tactic, so right now you have an edge. Use it.

As a sidenote you can also try the Affiliate tactic. Domainers need thousands of domains to make money from type-in traffic. Richard Kershaw calculated that a .com domain, which gets 31 visits per month via type-in traffic could only make USD 11 per year from ad clicks. It's not a gold mine, so they might be interested in a revenue share deal if redirecting the domain name to your site. E.g. if you sell 3d printers on your site, then you could really use the traffic from 3dprinter.com and 3dprinters.com. Today these two domains link to ad pages, where the owner makes 0,05 USD, when someone clicks on a link. It's next to nothing.

So while they're waiting for the big pay day, when they manage to sell the domain, you could get orders via those domain names. Heck, it might be so profitable for you that you decide to buy the domain name from them. The challenge is to sell them the idea, so you need to prepare a good sales speech with a nice upside.

I hope this blog post got you inspired to try the type-in traffic tactic. Let me know your results at christopher@europeandomaincentre.com.

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