Use Direct Navigation for Affiliate Marketing

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This is a Guest Post By Andrew Allemann, publisher of Domain Name Wire.

Paying Google to send traffic to your web site or affiliate program links is a great way to get traffic. But those clicks charges add up.

Another option to buying search traffic is to own the traffic by buying domain names that get type-in traffic. The domain industry refers to this as “direct navigation traffic”. Depending on who you ask, type-in traffic represents 5%-25% of all web site traffic today.

For example, let’s say you are promoting a car extended warranty program. If you own ExtendedWarranties.com, you’ll get a steady stream of people showing up on your web site every day who bypass search engines and simply type the domain name into their browser’s address bar. The best part is that type-in traffic converts very highly; often better than traffic from Google. Even better: once you own the domain name and its traffic, you don’t have to pay Google to keep sending traffic your way.

Obviously ExtendedWarranties.com isn’t available for registration. Almost all good domain names are registered, but many can be purchased at surprisingly reasonable prices. Some of the more popular sites for buying already registered domain names are Sedo.com, Afternic.com, and BuyDomains.com.

Here’s some math to show you how buying a domain name may be better than buying Google Adwords. Let’s say ExtendedWarranties.com gets 10 type-in visitors a day. The number one position on Google will cost you about $5 a day for this keyword. If you get 10 type-ins to the domain name, that’s a $50 value every day. If you pay $18,250 for the domain name then you will have paid for it within a year. After that it’s like getting free clicks.

There’s another bonus to owning a good domain name like this. If you advertise for “Extended Warranties” on Google, people are more likely to click on your ad that uses the domain name ExtendedWarranties.com than competitors’ ads that use domain name like extended-warranties-online.com.

If you want to try using generic domain names to get traffic, a good place to start is one of the major domain name sites mentioned earlier. You can also try Domain Tools’ search engine, a meta search engine to find domain names for sale that are related to your keyword.

Andrew Allemann is publisher of Domain Name Wire, a popular blog about domain names.

71 thoughts on “Use Direct Navigation for Affiliate Marketing

  1. Enkay Blog

    It may be a good idea like you said, but paying google can add up and you dont necessarily want to put more money into it than you get out of it.

  2. Melvin

    pretty informative! but then i dont think its already proven… adwords is already ancient and had been used for a long time by many…

  3. sean

    I look at moniker as well and to some extent sitepoint, but sitepoint doesn’t have good search and the great domains are rare

  4. Web Hosting Rebates

    That’s kind of the whole point – by acquiring a type-in domain, you can sidestep Google to an extent by grabbing targeted traffic for your term while only laying out cash one time. The challenges with this approach are that it requires more substantial initial cash investment and you may be working with very limited data regarding legit type-in traffic for the domain you’re considering purchasing.

  5. Web Hosting Rebates

    Yeah, I just checked this out too. Very curious what kind of traffic a typo domain like that supplies. Same premise as JohnCow.com, I suppose, except he turned that into a sort of parody / takeoff site.

  6. Web Hosting Rebates

    If only it were so easy – finding and acquiring GOOD type-in domains that you can market a product for and generate a profit is a challenging task. If you do it wrong, you could throw away a lot of money.

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  8. Andrew @ Domain Name Wire

    Thanks for the comments. To address a couple:

    Melvin – type-in traffic from generic domains is proven. But as some other commenters have pointed out, you have to make a bigger upfront investment and can’t “test” it like you can with Adwords.

    Webhosting Rebates – thankfully we’re getting more data on type-in traffic. You used to be able to use the Overture Inventory tool and search on {keyword}.com and find a good estimate of traffic. Now Google has expanded its keyword tool to estimate the number of times someone searches on a term. Just add .com to the end of the term to get a decent estimate of how many times people type the domain into the search box (rather than the browser bar).

    DomainTool’s meta search is pretty cool…I’ve spent hours on it at a time.

  9. Kevin L

    If he wanted to be a dick about it, Shoe could probably get the domain from you since he has a trademark. Your intent is to trick people into thinking they are visiting Shoemoney, even though they cannot type/spell. You are therefore still using his trade name to draw traffic and that is infringement. Shoe is cool about that stuff but others might not be, so be careful. Google or eBay would come after your ass if you tried to pull it on them.

  10. Paul B

    Was just a mistake from my own fat fingers! Figured if I could mis-type it so could other people so registered it. No plans to do anything with it for now other than redirect.

  11. Bryn Youngblut

    I have over 50 domain names I do this with for different things. Some work great some don’t work at all. For example at the start of TAC I noticed they kept saying teamxy7 dot com instead of just xy7 dot com so i registered teamxy7.com in hopes of people searching it and by the looks if it it was not a success cause I just checked the stats now and the only hits it’s gotten was from me…lol oh well you never know unless you try.
    Also for instance I registered diablo3items.com like 3 years ago and just recently when diablo 3 was announced it’s been getting massive traffic and already a few offers on my sedo listing.

  12. Tech Trendzi

    Yes, this technique works but not always, it does depend on the luck and the desire domain availability.
    As stated earlier the adWord and like services are already proved their success.

  13. Todd Mintz

    Let’s say ExtendedWarranties.com gets 10 type-in visitors a day. The number one position on Google will cost you about $5 a day for this keyword. If you get 10 type-ins to the domain name, that’s a $50 value every day.

    This is extremely flawed logic. You’re supposing that bidding $5 for this term is a good business that will give you optimum ROI. I wouldn’t assume this…especially since the number 1 position in AdWords is frequently overpriced and not optimum for maximum return.

  14. tonyrocks

    Yeah, this is flawed…and old. This is how I used to think back in the 1920’s I’ve decided to bury this post. Wait, this isn’t Digg? oh well…I wonder if d-i-g-g.com is available :)

  15. Popular Wealth

    GEO domains rock too, city name +.com or .net.
    I own an entire county of geo domains (.net) just west of LA, I know.
    What I don’t like is that Google and Yahoo know about type in traffic too and their search engine rankings automaticaly give THEM top spot for any geo domain search.
    Businesses, travel, restaurants etc… the search engines give THEMSELVES top spot in the serps. Highly unfair imo… but it’s not about being fair is it.

  16. jim

    It’s the tradeoff is up front payments to buy a good type in or incremental payments to adwords on names… if you know of a good term that might make sense to pull the trigger but it seems liek you’d want to test more.

  17. Zak Show

    Good idea, and that’s exactly my technique. 2 weeks ago I posted my June revenue report and the report include some xxx revenue from parked domains, people was wondering how I do that! Simple, Type-in-traffic :)

  18. Zak Show

    For now people are concentrated on .com TLD they don’t trust other extensions, that’s why .me is not a big deal. I think that .me is just for fun :D like.me :P

  19. Zak Show

    yes that’s a good idea and you can also buy it for a good price if the city want to make an official website! You know what Im saying?

  20. Paul B

    If Shoe wanted it all he’d have to do is ask, he can have it for the $8 or $9 or whatever it cost to register. In terms of traffic it creates a bit but not enough to write home about. There are more details on my blog.

    Re: the legal standpoint There are hundreds of derivatives of very very big trademarked names out there, typo’d domaining is big business. If I thought Shoe was going to be an ass about it I’d never have mentioned it :) (but it’s his if he wants it)

  21. Andrew

    Depends on the business. If you’re in the first spot for this term and it’s converting well, then this logic is right on for you. If you only find it valuable to bid at $1, then the payback period is longer.

  22. Web Hosting Rebates

    Right, but shoe’s point was that amortizing the cost out over a period of time, compared to the comparable cost for paid search, it might not be THAT astronomical. Sure, there’s a premium, but it’s because you know you’re getting targeted traffic with pretty high conversion potential. Over the long haul, it works out to be cheaper than paying for clicks (as long as you can convert it).

  23. Andrew

    A surprisingly large number of people do. They’re also more likely to click on an ad if the keyword is in the URL.

  24. Goran Website

    This serves to sidestep both paid for and organic ranking issues. Keyword rich domain names are worth gold, and this post serves to illustrate that very succinctly.

  25. Goran Website

    Misspelt versions of popular keywords is quite often a good way to get some great traffic. It makes sense that this will apply to URL’s as well. Your traffic stats from this would make interesting reading indeed!

  26. Goran Website

    I am very pleased with the updates to the Google keyword research tool. It makes the data much more user friendly. The aftermarket keyword tool companies must be cursing them for this.

  27. Goran Website

    All told this does make a lot of sense. Finding domains that will enable one to employ this strategy is key however. The internet is very crowded at this moment in time, and good URL’s are few and far between.

  28. jn

    Please stop posting articles like this! I do not need any more people competing for domains in auctions against me.

    The article is dead on accurate though.

  29. Web Hosting Rebates

    A lot of people who aren’t very web savvy do. They are also much more likely to convert on an affiliate offer or click your adsense than a more sophisticated internet user.

  30. PPC

    If your keywords are reflected in your URL, the long term benefits will be pretty much there for as long as you can afford to keep the domain.

  31. Chris Abernethy

    Now that browsers are running searches automatically for people when they type stuff into the search bar, I think it’s even more likely that someone will type in an actual domain name. I’m sure it helps to have single word domains like ‘cars’ and ‘ringtones’, but you get my point.

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