Hosting affiliate programs are pretty sweet as they tend to convert well, once someone has decided on the hosting they want, and the payouts can be significant. In addition, due to the commodity aspect of the industry, most hosting companies can be desperate for new clients so they are happy when one signs up… no matter how they arrived at the door.

But is that so smart? There wouldn’t be typo domain affiliates taking advantage of them, would there?

And here’s another issue, which is across all niches – affiliate managers are often paid a % of the commissions their affiliates bring in. So they often look the other way or are just clueless as to what is going on when it comes to typo domain traffic and commission theft. They also seem unaware or just don’t care about fake webhost review sites, but that’s a story for another day (in the meantime this is a good blog for exposing fake webhost review sites).

Let’s take a look at a few hosting companies. First off is a well known brand, HostGator.

Their affiliate program claims to pay out over $1,000,000 in commissions each month. Now that is sweet! What this means is that a good chunk of cash is going to honest affiliates… but a serious amount is also being handed to typo domain affiliates who have done sweet diddly squat all when it comes to adding value to HostGator’s marketing efforts.

Hostgator getting srewed by affiliates ... every month

We talked to our resident expert Mr. X, and he explained it all to us.

What these affiliates do is simple: just pick up a cheap domain for $1.50 or so, and redirect it to HostGator. And it’s not just any domain… it’s a typo domain that a certain % of people will miss-spell HostGator… and dropping that lovely cookie on their PC so that the affiliate scoops a commissions from the unsuspecting customer.

No need for a website, no need for PPC ads, no need to SEO, no need for buying any traffic, no need for tweets and facebook posts, no need for email marketing.

Just $1.50 and you are in business.

We ran a Typo Assassin scan (from a paid account) on hostgator.com.

Guess how many typo domains we found?

Over 100!

Now we have to admit that not ALL of these domains are affiliates, but any one of them can become an affiliate link redirect at any time – so it’s like 100 baby alligator bombs waiting to explode.

Here’s a screenshot of our findings. The images that look like the hostgator home page are clear indications of affiliates redirecting back to hostgator.com. Some of the other domains are time bombs. And more domains are getting registered all the time, as it’s pretty clear that HostGator doesn’t police this activity.

hostgator affiliate scam with typo domains

So what does Typo Assassin do for us here? Well the process is pretty simple, if you’re running a business with an affiliate program:

  1. scan your domain using Typo Assassin
  2. trace each one using our trace feature – start with the ones where the thumb image looks like your site as it’s a good chance you’ve caught an affiliate
  3. identify the affiliate id’s in question (see next picture for an example of one we caught red handed within seconds)
  4. STOP paying these gators – especially before the next affiliate payout deadline

hostgator typo domain affiliate trace of their domain redirect

It’s really that simple. No need for expensive lawyers that take forever because they charge by the hour. No need to send cease and desist letters and threaten to legally get the domains back.

Why bother with all the legal BS when you simply stop paying the money out to the scammers?

Here’s another benefit to this process: your current honest affiliates will love you! Also, with the money you’re now saving you can afford to pay your honest affiliates even more and thus bring in more value-added traffic.

Now I used a big word in the headline: infested. Is it really that bad? Well, just guess how many typo domains of hostgator.com resolve back to hostgator.com and are a high risk of being an affiliate?

10?

20?

No it’s actually over 40! That’s right, about 40% of hostgator typo domains are their own affiliates.

And it’s just going to get worse, until they get their act together and see affiliate typo domainers as a cost, and not incremental revenue.

Want more numbers? Comment below or give us a tweet @typoassassin with a hosting company you want us to scan. We’ll post the results here:

Hosting Companies with Typo Domain Affiliates:

  • HostGator
  • BlueHost

 

I guarantee that for most hosting companies you’ll see the same issue. If we see a hosting company with this under control, we’ll make a BIG update to this blog post and list them below.

Hosting Companies with ZERO Typo Domain Affiliates:

  • TBD