Categorized | Type-in Traffic

Type-in Traffic: A Long-Term Selling Point?

Posted on 06 November 2009 by Andrei

Nope! This post may or may not piss you off, depending on which side of the fence you’re on. Let’s get right down to business, here’s why (IMO) type-in traffic is NOT a long-term selling point:

1) Traffic Quality Issues

Look (I’ve mentioned this last week as well), if you own DallasLoans.com then yes, your type-in traffic probably CONVERTS. Aside from domainers who type in that term as well (they’re probably not from Dallas and not interested in loans), most people who land on your websites represent a great audience for companies from Dallas which are offering loans. Two words: targeted traffic!

People seem to forget that traffic which doesn’t convert is almost useless (and certainly not worth a lot of money). Out of the “type-in traffic pool”, how many domains put traffic which actually converts on the table? Unfortunately, only a small percentage.

What about traffic from domains like lol.com or haha.com? Legitimate traffic, poor conversion rates.

What about MySpace typos and similar domains? The conversions will be even worse than with traffic from domains like lol.com or haha.com. Just plain awful!

What about fraudulent traffic? I’ve explained everything here, check out the post if you haven’t by now and you’ll see what I mean.

For every domain with type-in traffic that converts, there are a handful which ruin its credibility as a traffic source. The result? A bad reputation. Maybe this type of traffic deserves its reputation, maybe it doesn’t. The situation is what it is, the reputation exists and will unfortunately continue to exist. Unless parking companies which are willing to filter crap from quality emerge and generate some serious buzz, traffic quality will always be something that will end up being used against domainers.

2) The “Average” End User Just Doesn’t Care

Assuming that you don’t own lots of 6-7 figure domains, the average end user represents your target audience. You know, the plumber from Chicago who just wants a nice domain name (ChicagoPlumber.com) for his business card or the small company who’s on the lookout for a decent billboard-worthy name.

How many times have YOU been contacted by an end user who asked about type-in traffic? In my case, it NEVER happened and I seriously doubt that it will. I keep in touch with lots of people who own quite a few domains and it never happened in their case either. The only exceptions are represented by domainers (first of all, they’re not end users anyway) who contacted me/them but it was more than obvious from the first email that they were resellers and let’s be honest for a moment: is it really beneficial if we continue selling domains to each other over and over again?

Remember: the average end user probably sees domain names as some sort of a vanity phone number. Nothing more, nothing less.

3) Technology – Our Enemy?

If your business model revolves around type-in traffic then yeah, it probably is. But here’s the thing: even if we as domainers are pissed off, the Web is evolving, it’s becoming BETTER!

Look at things from the perspective of a potential visitor for a moment, what would you rather do if you were from Dallas and wanted a loan:

1) Type in DallasLoan.com and/or DallasLoans.com in order to be taken to a site you know nothing about? Can it be trusted? Is the information accurate?

2) Search for the term “Dallas loan” and/or “Dallas loans” via Google/Yahoo/Bing and receive a list of “potential candidates” based on algorithms which are getting better and better? Again: search engines are getting better and better at connecting people with quality sites and from the perspective of the average Internet user, that’s great!

I’m sure the answer is more than obvious. Browsers can/could easily block parked pages and one important victory has already been secured. If you use Firefox, for example, and type in “Dallasloans” (without the .com ending), you’ll be taken to a search page (for the term “Dallasloans”) and NOT to DallasLoans.com! Let’s say 10 years ago, you would have been taken to DallasLoans.com but that has changed and it’s changes like this which will eventually cost us our type-in traffic.

Now blocking parked pages altogether would be a lot harder, that’s true, but let’s not forget that there are some major footprints involved. If the people from Mozilla want to all of a sudden block domains parked via Sedo or Parked.com, that would definitely be possible. If they want to block “sites” which only have one page, that would be possible as well.

Even though there are currently plugins which block parked sites, their effect isn’t devastating. But if/when browsers decide that enough is enough, say goodbye to a huge percentage of your type-in traffic. Will it happen today? No. Next year? Probably not. But it’s only a matter of time until it WILL.

Could Type-in Traffic Be “Saved”?

Parked pages don’t provide value to the average surfer, it’s as simple as that. They’re filled with ads which make money for us but the sites which are being advertised are usually not that great and as a result, visitors are not huge fans of such pages.

In theory yes, type-in traffic could be saved if the landing pages visitors are taken to would actually provide value. At this point, most of the domains which receive some decent type-in traffic are parked/not used. If that were to change (if the people who are currently not doing anything with their domains – in other words, people who haven’t even parked them – start using them and if parking companies start displaying landing pages which provide value) then sure, there would be no incentive for anyone who is interested in making the Web a better place to block such domains.

It’s obvious that there’s no way to convince everyone to start using the domains they own but if registrars would start using decent default landing pages and if parking companies would also switch to a business model which has providing value to the average visitor as its foundation, type-in traffic would definitely have a better reputation. In other words, something similar to what search engines are doing: if someone types in “DallasLoans.com”, he/she is taken to a page similar to what they see when they use Google, Yahoo or Bing. In other words, sites categorized based on well-defined algorithms (again, similar to what search engines are doing) and yes, sponsored listings as well BUT NOT EXCLUSIVELY!

Will something like this happen? Probably not and here’s why: you (or the registrars that currently use default landing pages for self-promotion) would end up making considerably less money, it’s a vicious circle! Parking/type-in traffic monetization in its current form has no long-term future because on the one hand, if you limit yourself to displaying sponsored listings, you’re not providing value (you’re only displaying links to sites which are there because the owners paid money, not because they’re good enough to be ranked based on a certain algorithm). On the other hand, if you add “organic” listings to the mix, considerably less people would click on the sponsored ads and you’ll make less money.

There are far too many things working against type-in traffic, the fundamentals are just not there. Again, this doesn’t mean that parking will disappear today, tomorrow, next year or five years from now. Nobody can tell for sure WHEN the inevitable will occur, we only know that the business model is fundamentally flawed and that it’s only a matter of time until there will be consequences.

OK Wise Guy: What IS Our Long-Term Selling Point?

I’m sorry to have to tell you this but again: most people see domains as the online version of vanity phone numbers and nothing more. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. No matter what happens, any plumber from Chicago would love to own ChicagoPlumber.com, for example.

We just have to keep that in mind when coming up with a business model. We’re marketers in a way: we’re trying to sell something (domains) to someone (the average end user who sees domains as something similar to vanity phone numbers) and need to come up with approaches which WORK.

The biggest mistake a marketer can make is not understanding what makes the people he/she will be selling to tick. A plumber from Chicago is interested in ChicagoPlumber.com because nothing would represent him better online than that domain. Type-in traffic is a nice bonus, sure, but that’s about it. Everyone wants to be #1 and owning ChicagoPlumber.com is what would make any plumber from Chicago feel (and rightfully so) that he has an edge over the competition when it comes to the Web. There’s your angle, stop focusing on things only domainers care about and start making money by giving people what they want!

15 Comments For This Post

  1. Todaro Says:

    gotta agree with what you’re saying… but even a non targeted type-in has value… way more than a non targeted tv viewer ’cause he can go to a site and do business immediately.

  2. Andrei Says:

    @Todaro: it’s all a matter of supply and demand. There are only so many TV stations, there’s only so much time for commercials and there are lots of companies interested in advertising. When it comes to the Web, there are billions upon billions (…upon billions) of impressions but not nearly enough advertisers to make things worth it for people who own domains with traffic which converts poorly. The result: you’ll only get paid pocket change unless you can put targeted traffic on the table.

  3. MrMurmelton Says:

    I can confirm that end users don’t even know what type in traffic means. I actually asked a bunch of friends last month and they thought I was kidding when I told them that some people just type in a domain. It’s pretty strange to me as well because I know a lot of people but none of them navigates that way. I wonder how many of the type inners are actually domainers who want to see what’s happening with one of the domains they wanted,opinions?!

  4. Nick Says:

    MrMurmelton, I don’t know anyone who types in domains either. What’s stranger is that I don’t type them in either, I just use domaintools… then where is the traffic coming from? I think maybe a few people who don’t use the Internet a lot may type in domains (old people?), most of the people I know are young.

  5. Xdreamer Says:

    Without targeted traffic it’s difficult to have a good payout. This goes for search engine traffic or any other traffic too. If you have a blog about insurance and you’re collecting leads, hitting the frontpage on Digg will get you a lot of traffic, tens of thousands. But you probably won’t get even one lead out of that article because Digg users will just quickly read your article and then leave because your site’s main topic is of no interest. So what good will Digg traffic do for a website like that? Digg traffic can be good but only for a minority of sites which should preferably be tech oriented. Otherwise, you won’t see even one lead let alone a sale.

  6. Oklahoma Says:

    The analogy I always use is: If Google did not list/index Sex.com, do you think some people might still type in Sex.com into their browser? Or would Sex.com have no people going to it?

    Then they say, “Oh….people would still go to it”. And I say, “Right. The same is true with other “word domains” like FishingBoats.com or Football.com or Lunch.com……people will type them in also”.

    Then they get it. Some people are slow and never get it though.

  7. nmwando Says:

    Logically speaking, I only want to ask this. What incentive would somebody have to type in an url? Maybe out of boredom yes, just out of curiosity to see what’s on the domain computer.com or something else but there’s no real incentive to type in domains directly as a way to surf the web.

  8. domain report Says:

    You bring up some interesting points, but I think you go a little too far in playing down the importance of type in traffic. The hardest part of running a business is getting people through the front door. Type in traffic brings people in the front door, you just have to know what is the best thing to do with that traffic. Even a domain like lol.com or haha.com would have traffic that is useful to maybe a joke site, or funny video site. And getting a sale right away someimes isn’t the only goal, maybe you just want people to enter a contest, sign up for a newsletter, see your message, whatever. It would be interesting to hear from people who have lots of type in traffic domains, has traffic stayed the same from one, two years ago, or is it less? It’s possible that in the future technology will come about that reduces the need for people to do type in searching, but I think it will always be around in some form. Some kids go to their favorite websites by typing the website name into Google, then clicking on the site in the search results, instead of just typing the url into the browser. So people do strange things. I agree though that traffic isn’t always important to some buyers, they do just want names for the branding, or because it exactly suits their business.

  9. nmwando Says:

    My question remains. Why would someone want to type in an url? What would the incentive be? Kids type in the url using google instead of doing it directly because google is an important part of their online world. Most kids use google at least a couple of times each day, it’s the core of their surfing experience. Strictly from a logical standpoint, their behavior is explainable. What’s not explainable is why a person would want to type in an url directly? domain report, do you do this? Do you know anyone who has done this? Did that person explain why? I for one doubt that even one person who has read this blog post knows someone who types in domains as a way of navigating. It’s not logical, there’s no real incentive to do that.

  10. nmwando Says:

    I’ll go even further and say that even assuming that a few people thought that typing in domains is a good way of navigation, they would have stopped navigating this way after the first day. Because they would have only arrived on parked pages or bad and maybe inactive sites. The chances of arriving on a good site after typing in a domain are slim to none.

  11. SDM Says:

    Reading the Urban Dictionary again?

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Site%20Visitor%20Value%20%28SVV%29

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  13. Collect Says:

    Good article, nice to hear this being talked about. Type in traffic is almost dead. With touch technology and channels there is no way it can last much longer. Domains will remain to be valuable but for one reason only… BRAND! Look at BlackSocks.com.. nice keywords but more important NICE brand. It will be touch the logo.. touch the brand.. mind presence will still matter but typing it in will be because they have heard of the brand or see the ad.. not to search for something. Don’t buy into a dying market. That is what I think anyway.. I continue to purchase hand registered domains with this in mind… BRANDING!

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