It’s pretty easy to clone a merchant site – you don’t need to copy all the files. Just take a screenshot and upload it as a “one page” website. In an excellent post, the team at BrandVerity shows just how close a “screenshot clone” site can look like the original merchant site.

So why are affiliates doing this?

One reason is that they can send paid search traffic to the clone site, as BrandVerity shows in their analysis. When visitors click through the affiliate is rewarded with the “stolen” commissions. But the affiliate only gets the credit IF the visitors click through to the merchant site.

Read on to discover how typo domain affiliates make even higher commissions with even less effort…

In the typo domain space, this is nothing new. This is basically what typo domain affiliates have been doing for years…. and it’s getting worse all the time.

Except, typo domain affiliates are even shrewder: they don’t bother with hosting, screenshots, installing wordpress, etc. All they do is redirect their typo domains DIRECTLY to the merchant site. Bam! No lame clone site needed. ALL traffic is through their affiliate link so they make even more profits.

Let’s use the Blu Cigs merchant as an example, and we can build on BrandVerity’s excellent detective work.

Using TypoAssassin, we ran a scan of the Blu Cigs domain and discovered there are already 28 typo domains registered against their brand. Some of these typo domains link to parked pages (can easily be switched over to affiliate links at any time) and some are already sucking in commissions using the direct linking technique explained above.

Here’s part of the output from our TypoAssassin report:

blu cigs typo domain report from typoassassin

Let’s look a little closer at one of them: – this is what is keyed in when a visitor directly navigates to but they miss the first “.” and get the domain that someone registered as without that “.”

What happens next is the secret sauce of typo domaining: they get redirected to the actual merchant site but THROUGH their affiliate link. Here’s a trace of what happens, and it goes through the PepperJam affiliate link for BluCigs.. for this sneaky affiliate:

 sneaky blucigs affiliate direct linking trace to blucigs and juicy commission theft

So in this case, unlike the complicated BrandVerity scenario where someone has gone to all that trouble to clone a site, host it, etc., here we have a typo domain affiliate direct linking to a “perfect replica” of the merchant site: the merchant site itself!

With a TypoAssassin account, BluCigs can put an end to this theft immediately, and also get alerts every time some wise affiliate tries this trick with another variation of – once they get the alert, they can monitor the domain (TypoAssassin allows for colour coding the domains so e.g. you can mark the new ones yellow and check on them now and then), and once they say direct linking in use via our tracing feature, they simply stop paying the affiliate and kaching! the profits are saved.

Get TypoAssassin now, for your affiliate program.. and do it before your next payout 🙂