SiteFinder Propels VeriSigns Traffic Standings

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2003-10-21 Print this article Print

Before its recent suspension, VeriSign's controversial redirection service catapulted it to the eleventh most-visited spot on the Internet.

Propelled by its controversial SiteFinder service, VeriSign Inc. recorded the largest gain in visitors to its Web sites during the month of September. The number of unique visitors to VeriSigns sites, led primarily by its SiteFinder site that appears when users mistype a Web address or enter a non-existent one, jumped 540 percent in September compared to August, according to a month survey released on Tuesday by comScore Media Metrix. The leap landed VeriSign sites into the 11th-most visited spot on the Internet last month after being at No. 135 only a month earlier. The number of unique visitors rose to 30.8 million from 4.8 million.
But the traffic rise wont last—at least for now. VeriSign earlier this month suspended SiteFinder, about two weeks after launching it on Sept. 15. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company, though has said that the suspension is temporary.
The rise in Web visitors, while expected, will not play a role in VeriSigns decision about when to resume SiteFinder, VeriSign spokesman Tom Galvin said on Tuesday. The company continues to work with the Internet community about its concerns and has set no timetable for restarting the service. "Its an offshoot and not a factor in our decisions," Galvin said of the spike in Web visitors. "SiteFinder was created after user research indicated that it would be a helpful Web navigation tool, and thats the genesis of it and the reason why we think its a useful tool." SiteFinder has faced a rising tide of criticism from the overseer of domain names, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers; the Internet Architecture Board; domain registrars and Internet Service Providers. Many of the concerns revolve around the technical aftereffects of SiteFinder, which impacted some anti-spam software, e-mail and lookup services. An ICANN advisory committee held its second public meeting last week to examine how SiteFinder affects the stability and security of the DNS and is expected to issue a report on its findings in the next few weeks. In an earlier advisory, the Security and Stability Advisory Committee found that SiteFinder "weakened the stability of the Internet." Click here to find out more about the concerns of ICANN and the Security and Stability Advisory Committees concerns about redirection services. VeriSign has stood behind SiteFinder, disputing that it has had a major technical impact on the Internet and saying that Web users preferred being redirected to the search results on the site rather than receiving error messages. Discuss this in the eWEEK forum.
Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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