ComScore: VeriSign traffic surges in September

Apparently, its controversial Site Finder led to a spike in traffic

Traffic to VeriSign Inc.'s Web site increased 541% in September, mainly because of the launch of its controversial Site Finder service, which redirected mistyped URLs to its site, according to results released yesterday by comScore Media Metrix.

In September, VeriSign attracted approximately 31 million users to its site, up from 5 million visitors in August -- the company's usual number of visitors, said Graham Mudd, an analyst at Reston, Va.-based comScore Networks Inc.

Mudd said that spike catapulted VeriSign from the 135th most-visited site all the way up to No. 11, even though the Mountain View, Calif.-based company only launched the service on Sept. 15. But now that the Site Finder service has been temporarily turned off, he added, VeriSign should once again drop in comScore's rankings.

Officials at VeriSign couldn't be reached for comment today on the comScore results.

But a separate report from Nielsen/NetRatings also showed that VeriSign had a big upswing in traffic last month. Max Heineman, a spokesman for Nielsen/NetRatings in New York, said his company put VeriSign in the top 50 most-visited Web sites in September, with an audience of 20.4 million unique visitors. That's up 337% from the 4.67 million visitors VeriSign recorded in August.

Earlier this month, VeriSign pulled down the Site Finder service after the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and other groups complained (see story).

Most of those complaints centered around the fact that the service caused problems for some e-mail and Simple Mail Transfer Protocol servers because those applications or servers didn't receive traditional error messages. Critics also said VeriSign launched the service with little notice and refused to share some of the details of polling it did before the launch of Site Finder (see story).

Others argued that the company was trying to use its control of the .com and .net domains to dominate the Web search market. VeriSign has a contract with Marina Del Rey, Calif.-based ICANN to serve as the registrar for those domains.

For its part, VeriSign has defended the service, saying it complies with Internet standards. But it pledged to address the concerns of the Web community if it relaunches Site Finder.

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