FriendFeed, URLs and squatting

When some former Google colleagues launched FriendFeed this week I immediately signed up. Then I did what I always do when a new high-profile Internet service launches — I checked if they registered the normal set of typos. One of my earliest gigs at Google was helping to build our AdSense for Domains business before the general internet (and investment) community really understood the power of direct navigation. So i’m pretty familiar with users and their traffic patterns. If you’re going to build a large destination site, snapping up the following URLs is usually a good idea. It’ll save you money later.

The destination URL Owned by Bret Taylor (FF founder), registered 2005

The usual suspects

  • The Dot.Net variant
    • NO – Owned by someone in Arizona, created July 2007, redirects to a Google Apps iGoogle page
      • note – .com extensions are much stronger than .net, you really don’t get as much “oops, was that a .net or .com, but people often register the .net as a safeguard anyway
  • The most common misspelling
    • YES – Owned by Bret Taylor, registered in Sept 2007 (must have been when they were getting serious about launching).
      • other misspellings should be considered based upon how likely they are and the size of your audience, etc (see below)
  • The WWW variant
    • NO – Registered by a squatter in NY on Oct 1 – the same day FriendFeed launched (surprise!). Has a two-click ads implementation (where the landing page has categories, then you click to get PPC ads for that category). Look at their WhoIs entry. When your Technical Contact is “Legal Department” do you think that looks a little guilty?
        • the www is a common typo. Free advice: register this for your trademark
  • The variant
    • NO – Another squatter. This one Romanian and registered on October 2. Two-click ads implementation.
        • Same advice as above – the is another common typo

For all these, the subsequent variations and misspellings then are just a function of how large the parent domain gets. For example if you get 100 hits a day to, then likely isn’t getting any traffic. But take that to 1 millions hits a day, and you might see even a few hits going to very strange variants. All of this can be influenced by factors such as:

  • the savvy of your audience (young/old, english speaking/foreign)
  • feed vs bookmark vs type-in traffic for your site
  • complexity of your domain name (coined word, generic noun, length, sound alike?, synonyms, etc)

Good luck to Bret and team! You may want to spend some of Fenton’s $ to get those other domains before you get too big or just start your WIPO Domain Dispute now since they take a while.