If you have been on any website that has Adsense ads by Google on it (including this one), you may have noticed that Google is running its own ads for Gmail for Work and Gmail for Business. The ads show small businesses with cute domains, such as “gizmocam.com” and “puppyscrubber.com”. Shockingly, apparently nobody at Google thought to feature only domains registered to them; leading to a windfall for scammers who snapped up the domains and put ad links on them (these sorts of sites are known as ‘link farms’ or ‘linkfarms’).
The irony? Google is very strict about how they rank link farms in their own search algorithms – meaning, in plain English, that Google openly denounces link farms – and yet, is here unwittingly (we assume) encouraging them and advertising them in their own Google ads!
We first discovered this upon seeing one of the ads, featuring gizmocam.com. “Hrrrm,” we thought to ourselves, “we wonder how much GizmoCam.com had to pay to have their domain featured in these Google ads, which are playing across the Internet.”
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We mean, you almost can’t buy that sort of publicity, but we figured that they must have.
So of course, naturally, we went to check GizmoCam.com out, as you would. We expected to see some cool webcam.
So, imagine our surprise, at going to GizoCam.com, to find not a cool webcam or other gizmo site, but this:
Here’s another one.
(In case you can’t read that, it reads “firstname.lastname@example.org”.)
Here’s what’s up at birchdenim.com:
Again, total link farm.
And this one…
…and we could go on and on.
Of course, puppyscrubber.com isn’t a link farm yet, but clearly someone figured out to grab it while they got the free publicity.
How Google let something this obvious go unaddressed is beyond us.
Update: Props to Google! We reached out to them and got this issue in front of the right people, and while we’re not at liberty to say how or why this happened, they did in fact have some say in how those domains were being used, and they seem to have taken our suggestion that those domains should instead go to the Gmail for Work site.
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