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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

State of Typosquatting (and How Google Benefits From It)

McAfee released a report on typosquatting, the act of cashing in on a user’s misspelling of a domain they want to visit. What typosquatters do is e.g. to register, and then users who want to type but miss the “p” letter on the keyboard will end up on an advertisement-stuffed page lacking real content.

In the specific case of, which is mentioned in the McAfee report, the ads are delivered from a very special program of Google: Google AdSense for (parked) Domains. It’s an ad program tailored to helping webmasters create noise on the web, or, as Google puts it, for “large domain name holders to unlock the value in their parked page inventory.”

Granted, Google’s FAQ for the service mentions that domain names submitted to the program “may not contain or link to any of the following content: illegal activity; site promotion of incentive or fraudulent clicking; violation of trademark.” I’m not sure if typosquatting is a violation of a trademark (after all, the name “iphone” isn’t actually used in the domain, though it is used in the ads on the page), or if Google would ban this if someone filed a complaint. In any case, at this time pages like these persist using Google’s service – and for every click on the ad, Google gets their share from the advertiser’s payment.

[Thanks Juha-Matti Laurio!]


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