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Google Businesses The Almighty Buck The Internet

Pay-Per-Click Speculation Market Soaring 149

Rob writes "Computer Business Review is reporting that the number of web sites being opened purely to publish pay-per-click advertising links from the likes of Google and Yahoo is rocketing, according to VeriSign, which runs the .com and .net domain names." From the article: "Sclavos said that the company will change the way it reports the size of its domain name business, in terms of active registrations, because of the amount of speculation going on. It will reduce the size of the reported registrations by about 2%, he said. 'Names are being bought and then tested against traffic analyzers...The ones that can generate more than the $6 or $7 [registration] fee per year are kept, the other ones are returned within the five day grace period.'"
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Pay-Per-Click Speculation Market Soaring

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  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @08:56AM (#13123173)
    At least I'm doing my part to support it.


    • Pay-per-click (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GuitarNeophyte ( 636993 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @09:30AM (#13123444) Homepage Journal
      It's too bad that search engine results are so full of all-advertising sites that good sites tend to fall though the cracks. I've seen a number of pretty-decent websites that didn't show up until the tenth page of a google search just because they weren't "Optimized for search engine traffic". It's annoying.

      I read an article a while back that says that anyone who does anything purely for the purposes of making their websites show up higher on search engine results than they should are scammers. I believe it. No matter how whitehat you are, if you're trying to beat the system, you're a scammer. period.

      Dumb ol' no-good-content-advertiser-based-websites.

      This may be a shameless plug for my website [], but at least it's got content.
      • Re:Pay-per-click (Score:3, Informative)

        by aclarke ( 307017 )
        Well, I suppose you're entitled to your opinion and judging from your comment's moderation you're not the only person who feels that way. However, if you feel that "anyone who does anything purely for the purposes of making their websites show up higher on search engine results than they should are scammers", who decides the "than they should" part? You? The site owner? The search engine?

        Well, right now, the answer to that question is the search engine. Google (for instance) looks at your page and de

        • Re:Pay-per-click (Score:2, Informative)

          by Panaphonix ( 853996 )
          Agreed. Especially since Google ranks your page by how many pages link to it, what is wrong with having an incentive to getting the word out about your site to all the other relevant sites?
      • Re:Pay-per-click (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        So if a webmaster converts his flash website into pure html so that Google can index his site and boost his ranking, he's a scammer?

        If you want to make blanket statements like that, then I'll make a blanket statement about you -- you don't have a damn clue what you are talking about.
  • by vidarlo ( 134906 ) <> on Thursday July 21, 2005 @08:58AM (#13123193) Homepage

    This can only go on as long as few enough do. When enough people start doing this, google can tell sites wanting to much money for their adspace to go stic it up. Then, legitimate sites will get hurt, advertising in general will be hurt since those fake sites is mainly a hoax.

    Further, it is quite irritating, as most of those sites don't have a single piece of information. I remember a while ago a blog set up to earn money. The blog was about asbestos damage. Quite OK if they can provide content in addition to the ads. However, my guess is that google will ban sites not having any content /other/ than their ads.

    • by Eric Giguere ( 42863 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @09:07AM (#13123265) Homepage Journal

      my guess is that Google will ban sites not having any content /other/ than their ads

      That's already the case -- you can't normally display AdSense [] ads on a site if the site doesn't have any content. If Google notices this or if someone reports it, they'll ask you to take off the ads or lose your AdSense account.

      That said, Google and other third parties do offer domain parking facilities that explicitly allow you to show ads. But you have to explicitly sign up for that kind of program.

      I don't know how any of this would be considered "illegitimate" use of domain names, though. It's the price you pay with an open market.

    • When enough people start doing this, google can tell sites wanting to much money for their adspace to go stic it up

      Google does not negotiate a price for ad space. The way it works (on Google at least) is basically the more an advertiser pays the higher up the list/more likely to get seen the ad is. When a link is clicked Google charges the advertiser and pays a proportion to the site that has syndicated the ads.

      This means that Google gets paid whatever. The only thing Google has to worry about is si

      • The thing that I can't figure out is who goes to a contentless site and starts click the ads?

        Somebody searching for something on the web (preferably from a search engine other than google...), and stumbling across your site by "accident". As the only contents are the ads, chances are that the visitor will click on one of them if they are interested in the subject.

        Now the tricky part is:

        • Make sure your site is ranked high enough that you attract enough random traffic (not that hard, after all they are
      • >> The thing that I can't figure out is who goes to a contentless site and starts click the ads? I very rarely click ads anyway, but to do it from a crap site just seems really dumb.

        That one's easy;

        1. The scammer builds a web page using "blackhat" SEO tricks to make it seem like good, ontopic content.
        2. The page shows up high in search results and many click onto it.
        3. once they get there and see it's shit, they look for a way out fast, often choosing one of the advert links rather than the
  • My opinion (Score:5, Interesting)

    by erykjj ( 213892 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @08:59AM (#13123206)
    Perhaps it would make sense to increase the registration fee and/or eliminate the grace period. That way, only those who are serious about maintaining a web site would be investing in one.
    • Re:My opinion (Score:3, Informative)

      by Eric Giguere ( 42863 )

      I'm not really sure why this is news. They should for sure exclude registrations that haven't passed their grace period when reporting activations... that's just common sense. A company can't fully book the revenue it receives if there's a return period. Same reasoning applies here.

      Read about click fraud []
    • Why should we limit web sites to people who are serious? If anything we should be lowering or eliminating the registration fee.
      • Re:My opinion (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @10:07AM (#13123746)
        Wait, don't get rid of the registration fee before I have a chance to write a brute-force "register everything" script.

        • Re:My opinion (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Cromac ( 610264 )
          Wait, don't get rid of the registration fee before I have a chance to write a brute-force "register everything" script.

          This should be modded up (sorry, no points left) because that is exactly what would happen if there weren't any registration fee. Hell we're not far from that now with the companies who register tens of thousands of domains and park them for no reason other than to sell it to someone.

          • Re:My opinion (Score:2, Interesting)

            by fatcatman ( 800350 )
            Hell we're not far from that now with the companies who register tens of thousands of domains and park them for no reason other than to sell it to someone.

            Can someone make this illegal? Please?

            I'm trying to setup a new web site. I made a list of several dozen possible domain names. Almost ALL of them are owned by these "buyadomain" companies and they want $200 - $500 for them.

            Now, I don't have a problem with people selling their domains. But these people aren't doing jack shit with the domains. They've
          • This should be modded up (sorry, no points left) because that is exactly what would happen if there weren't any registration fee.

            Yeah, and it would be the point. You say it as though it's a bad thing.

            Hell we're not far from that now with the companies who register tens of thousands of domains and park them for no reason other than to sell it to someone.

            We're basically already there. In fact, even when the cost of domains were high it was still mainly a fee for administration, not for the domain its

        • You're too late, everything [] is registered ;-)
    • The problem is not the domain names. The name space could be infinite, and should be infinite. If it costs more to register on .com people will just move to .somethingelse where it is cheaper. The problem is one of information pollution. I despise this this sea of crap web sites that clutter and pollute the web. The signal to noise ratio of useful information keeps going down when you do random searches. And since it only hurts when you do a random search, it is the search engines themselves that need to f
      • A new breed of search will need to be able to cut through the crap better.

        Actually, I think it would be great if google would just allow more search terms to be supplied. I usually use a lot of minus terms to try and filter out the junk, and run into the maximum pretty quickly.

        For instance, if all of the undesired sites shared one phrase, say, "search categories" then it would be easy enough to blow them away by putting a -"search categories" on the search line. Not much chance that the uninterest

        • Yes, negative search terms help, but this is usually a response to getting crap back on the first search. Which implies two things. 1) I am spending more time searching than I'd like, and 2) I need to figure out the pattern to the crap myself to try to filter it out. If I can notice a pattern, then google could figure it out too.

          And I'm talking here about crap pages that are pretending to be useful, not pages that are useful about something else. For that 2nd case, I can use a quick negative filter or an
    • by xant ( 99438 )
      Why would a registrar ever do that? They make money on registrations. Someone is kindly doing them the favor of searching the domain-space for registrations that are worth some money, and then giving the registrar the money. That they return a few is just an operating cost, it's still mostly profit for the provider of the grace period.
  • Is this news? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by numb ( 241932 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @09:01AM (#13123218) Homepage Journal
    Isnt this just plain capitalism. If they can earn money of buying names and put up ads on them, then why not?

    Dont sse any news here, move along.
    • Re:Is this news? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by pmazer ( 813537 )
      The only problem I see is that they're snatching up names so that the people who want to use those names for a "valid" business will have to buy them at a premium, or can't access them at all.
      • If the domain name doesn't have any more value to you than it does as a contentless site, visited only by people who mistype addresses, guess at addresses, (ie just type looking for somewh to buy a computer) or follow links to spam sites from easily-fooled search engines, and then click on ad links like monkeys, why should you buy it anyway?
      • Re:Is this news? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Eric Giguere ( 42863 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @09:57AM (#13123670) Homepage Journal

        That argument doesn't hold: if these "snatchers" are making money from those domain names, then they are in fact running "valid" businesses themselves. In other words, they're doing what all good businesses try to do: make money.

        • In other words, they're doing what all good businesses try to do: make money.

          So is the mob. What separates a good business from a bad business is the way in which they try to make money.

          • But there's nothing illegal about what this particular type of business is doing. It's not even immoral. Whether it's a "worthwhile" business would perhaps be a different story, but I suspect many businesses would fail those kinds of criteria.
            • "But there's nothing illegal about what this particular type of business is doing."

              Which is exactly why it is news. Slashdot is saying, "hey, look what this ass hats are doing". I haven't seen anyone argue in favor of the "service" they are offering in exchange for the money they are leaching. Therefore, it looks like a great scam to ban by technical means. But first someone has to bring up the issue so it can be discused, and a solution devised.

              They are worse than useless, they are getting paid to be
          • You're replying to a guy who's homepage is a "how to make money from google with adsense" page. Not a tough nut to crack.
    • Why not is that it is against the terms and conditions of the Google adsense agreement to set up a site solely for the purpose of generating adsense pay-per-click revenue. Here is why: 1. Advertisers PAY for those clicks, and they have a right to expect that their adverts are on legitimate sites (helps protect their brand image). 2. These ripoff artists are stealing money (from a supply-and-demand perspective, since keywords are bid on by advertisers) from legitimate adsense publishers who work hard to g
      • The advertisers only care whether the people that click through to them (costing them money) actually end up buying something. In many cases, the clicks coming from PPC sites are probably as good or better than the ones coming from content domains in terms of sales conversion, so why would they care?
    • Well, it's certainly against Google's policies, which they're beginning to enforce in the last month or so. They have a "report spam" button, now. If you see these sites, click the Google Adsense link under the ads, and click "report spam".
      • Good. A good start. As I said [], this is simple information pollution, just like spam, and should be treated as such - using filters - both algorithmic and empirical. Google and the other search engines need to do a better job of filtering.
    • Your handle is inaccurate. Please run the following sed script on it.

      sed -n 's/^n/d/p'

      HTH. HAND.
    • Dont sse any news here, move along.

      Of course it's news. No, it doesn't need to be controversial, or shocking, or whatever. But it's happening, and it didn't happen before. That makes it news.

  • I tried this... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by guildsolutions ( 707603 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @09:14AM (#13123324)
    Actually got one check from google, Sadly even tho all of my sites were ligitamte and had real content not just faked up content, they booted me and said that I was generating false clicks, and then refused to tell me from where... This area needs to have some laws made regulating companies and there policies so the end users, the little guys, have some rights.
    • If someone goes to the site and then clicks on the link, how is this not legitimate?

      Sure, google should eliminate these sites from its search engine, but I don't see the point of not giving them the ad revenue they earned.

    • Google's fraud detection is like a casino catching a card counter. If you win too much they figure you must be cheating. All they can do is look at the click patterns of your site and see how they compare to patterns at other sites that have AdWords.

      It's possible that you were the victim of a "joe job" attack where someone came to your site and clicked every ad on every page. I suspect that Google gives you a pass or two on those kind of incidents since they can detect and filter them based on other info (
    • If you're talking about, I'd bet that you were booted because your site is very similar to google news, basically a wire service tracker.
      • So basically because he competes with Google he was booted? Doesn't it seem like playing with the devil - joining ad sense? Google could just see which publisher sites generate the most revenue then "steal" that revenue by competing with you and disabling your account.

        That's pretty evil if you ask me. I recommend another more trustworthy ad network IMO. One that doesn't compete with your publisher sites.
        • Do you really think google even noticed what his site was?
          • Of course not, it doesn't generate enough revenue.

            Now, search on google for "free email" and notice how the first result on the right is for gmail. Don't bother trying to use adwords/adsense for your free email publisher site anymore. Basically google picks off the publishers that generate significant revenue either directly/indirectly. The net effect is you shouldn't trust google ad sense if your website makes a lot of money. You'll just be supply greedy google executives with the details of your revenu
    • This area needs to have some laws made

      For the love of goat, please, no.

  • Google needs to periodically review it's "biggest earners" and see just how much it is updated, content wise, and also how many adverts per word their are.

    Get rid of the sites where text and adverts fight for space, let legit sites prosper!
  • stiffled innovation (Score:3, Interesting)

    by arudloff ( 564805 ) * on Thursday July 21, 2005 @09:30AM (#13123439) Homepage
    Think about how many small internet projects have failed due to really dumb, non-descriptive domain names.

    Granted, some companies have been able to pull off misspellings (flickr), but how much more time is left before anything even remotely pronouncable is already registered?

    If google really wants to "not be evil," they should find a way to pull the blanket from under these shams.. I almost wish domains were $100 a pop again just to make people think twice before doing this :(
    • how much more time is left before anything even remotely pronouncable is already registered?

      Have you registered a domain lately. It can be difficult to find a domain that fits your site, but I have never found any problems registering a domain that's 'remotely pronouncable'. Of course, the availability of domains with fewer characters is less. If you want a relatively short name that's pronouncable that may be a problem. Domains can (by RFC) be up to 255 characters. Not sure how many combinations th
      • but I have never found any problems registering a domain that's 'remotely pronouncable'

        Eventually these squatters are going to move out to "deeper territory," and people will have to keep coming up with longer and longer domain names. There reaches a point where a long domain name is no longer of any value to a new business trying to build name recognition.

        Do you really think a new widget shop can truly compete with a 255 character domain name? This entire paragraph consisting of two sentences is 132
        • Eventually these squatters are going to move out to "deeper territory,"

          True enough, it's possible that squatters will eventually cause this problem, but I don't see it any time soon.

          Just for fun I went out and checked, which isn't available, but the following names are:

          Sure, they aren't ideal names, but a business

          • Also, covering three or four letter domains with ad bait is pretty cheap, effective (people are likely to accidentaly visit your site), and profitable. Once you get into the domain (no pun intended) of forty character domain names, blanketing the spectrum to catch typos and other mispoints of the browser gets exponentially more expensive, less effective, and a loss.
    • Yeah, I can think of one site with a misspelled domain name that really tanked. or something like that?
  • I find it kind of strange that this problem exists in the first place. Since it's usually the same people who are registering/returning the domains, why can't they just some kind of limit in that only lets someone return 1 a day or something to discourage this type of behavior? Either that or make it a percentage can only unload so many domains per day based on how many active domaions you have right now that have been there for a while (to make sure legitimate companies aren't penalized).
  • I'm curious, does anyone know how they "test against traffic analyzers"

    I thought google adsense inserts ads that match site content. Are they building entire sites with relavent content, then testing generated clicks/revenues for that site? And I thought Google only rebuilds indexes every so often, which affect the likely hood that a person would find your site at all. Wouldn't it take a while for a site to really start generating interest, even if it were highly relavent to a search?
    • Commercial SEO tools (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MemeRot ( 80975 )
      There are tons of commercial SEO software products. They probably spend a half hour putting in some keyword lists that match their website name and then run a check on how that site would rank on google, yahoo, etc. Figuring a certain (very low) percentage of people will click an ad, and ballparking how many visitors they will get based on search ranking, they can tell how much the site is likely to make.
  • I think there's a special wing of Hades reserved just for SEOs, spammers, and other suitwankers [].
  • Flippin' burgers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @10:49AM (#13124175) Homepage Journal
    So between the domain name and faked keywords on the site trying to pump up the page rank, they're trying to get people to go to their site and then click on one of the pay-per-click links.

    1. Put up a web page
    2. Pray that just based on the domain name people will come
    3. Profit

    Yeah, I guess we know what step 2 is, but pay-per-click is pennies, and you have to do all that setup work coming up with names, hosting the site, etc. I suppose its profitable, but jeez, at what point is it just easier to get a job flipping burgers? Or maybe even a reputable IT job?

    Google pay-per-click money is free only if your time is worth nothing.
    • Except that pay=per=click is fun and you get to be your own boss. Additionally, once you set up a good ad site, the income comes in even after you stop working on it.
    • If you have a hundred sites all getting a couple of dollars a day you've got a nice income.

      The work involved will be mimimal, perhaps a day or two, and once it's done you need never do it again.
      • Perhaps. They were talking about seeking breakeven on the $7 yearly registration fee, so it sounds more like dollars per month rather than dollars per day.
    • The people doing this own tens of thousands of domains and make more money than you can imagine (like tens of thousands of dollars a day). It's actually kind of sick how much money is in this.

    • You're not thinking like an engineer.

      Sure, if you're only doing a handful of domains, you'd do it this way. But if you're doing dozens, hundreds, thousands (?) of domains, you spend the time and effort it takes to automate the process.

      Then all you have to do is think of keywords to feed in, and the rest is taken care of you. I'd be willing to bet there are unscrupulous registrars willing to "assist" this process, so long as they don't look complicit.
    • Except pay per click is NOT pennies, not Google Adsense at least. There are numerous ads that will pay more than a dollar per click to the publisher (i.e. after google takes it's share as the middle man). A few topics that do really well have to do with lawyers building class action lawsuits, good travel terms, and mortgages -- places where a single "sale" could net a few hundred dollars to the advertiser, so a buck or two per click is OK.
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @11:14AM (#13124469) Homepage Journal
    At least these speculators are recycling the names quickly when they're not using them. I get pissed off when I hit a website, and get one of those fake "search portal" fronts from a squatter. There's got to be a way to make people use the minimum appropriate domain names for their sites, without charging more than necessary for the name. Maybe a $50 deposit, refunded after a month, held in escrow by the registrar? Maybe a traffic requirement for retaining the name, if there are other bids for it? That can survive a cheap "click simulation service" that keeps up fake traffic?
    • They're only returning them in order to get their fee back; if there was no 'trial' period they'd keep the names and just let them expire in a year or so.
      • Maybe doubling the fee (to $10-20), to include a prorated (over 5 years) refund might shake loose a lot of domains on ice. And, as another poster suggested, prohibit resale of the domain name. Just surrender back to the registrar upon ceasing the subscription. Retaining any trademark rights, possibly for resale, of course. That PTO system isn't nearly as easily fixed.
    • Actually, they aren't getting releasaed back to the public. They go into a 45-day "rendition period" where all those domains are unregisterable unless you want to pay to get them "out of rendition", which is usually between $125-$250. That is a total rip-off.
    • I was thinking about this yesterday. What really should be done is that resale of domain names should not be allowed. That would take the profit incentive away from the squatters.
      • That's interesting. Seems like a combo of no-resale, and a 50% refundable deposit (prorated across a couple of years) might do the whole trick. Maybe now, with ICANN seemingly on the ropes, is the time to launch this web-populist meme?
  • by hex1848 ( 182881 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @11:18AM (#13124509) Homepage
    Is Yahoo/Overture even supporting an AdSense equivalent at this point? Last time I looked into it, it was still being "developed".

    I have several cigar related sites and Google as pretty much shunned the entire tobacco industry. I would openly welcome a competitor to AdSense by Yahoo/Overture.
    • by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @02:55PM (#13127415) Homepage
      I have several cigar related sites and Google as pretty much shunned the entire tobacco industry. I would openly welcome a competitor to AdSense by Yahoo/Overture.

      I typed in "cigar' in the google search box, and sure enough, there was not a single ad, just search results. Did they ever exprese any reasoning behind this, or is it just explained away as "policy"? I tried a few other similar searches and found that "guns" is verboten, while "rifle" and "shotgun" are fine. Also "cigarettes" are out, but strangely not "cigarette". "Beer" and "whiskey" are apparently right out, but not "wine"-- because we all know wine drinkers are sophisticated bluebloods and whiskey and beer drinkers like in a trailer park and shoot each other with "guns" while smoking a "cigar", right? "Murder", "pedophelia", and "strangler" are apparently okey dokey as ad words though, with "strangler" even encouraging us to look for one on eBay.

  • Google only pays out once you've passed $100 in income. If these guys are only making $10/year, they won't be seeing anything anytime soon.
  • After reading all of the comments, I have yet to see a single reason why it's either google's or godaddy's responsibility to regulate what sites can be on the internet. The only quazi-reasons I have been able to deduce are "I don't like seeing advertisements". Regardless, hearing people say "godaddy should raise their price or not allow domains to be refunded" is quite possibly the worst solution I've heard... "let's screw over all consumers because I don't like ads!"
  • the main purpose of a trade show is to collect name, to make a contact list.

    Nike spent million if not more doing this in the trade show business, then they stopped. Why?

    Cause they had everyones name.

    At what point does pay per click become pointless?

    For google, don't most of us already know about not to mention how its becomming rather integrated with the internet in many ways.
  • by salesgeek ( 263995 ) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @11:37AM (#13124731) Homepage
    Crappy websites yeild horrible traffic. I will pay $8 per click for good traffic. I won't pay at all for bad traffic. Google has steadily declined in the quality of traffic they provide over the past couple of years. Overture, too has slid.

    Eventually, Google and Yahoo will have to cull the herd (actually they do right now). They must deliver a good value compared to other kinds of advertisements. Advertisers have pulled the rug out from under the online ad market before, and they will again if they see costs for conversions going sky-high. Right now that is the trend.

    Another problem is that crap websites create noise in search engine results diluting Google's core product and Yahoo's second product (their first is the myYahoo! portal).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    They have only ads and links?

    Welcome to the information highway, complete with billboards!

  • Really, do they care? Google and Yahoo both work to *not* list SPAM sites... But, say a site has zero content on it, and the site is only ads, and the site is not listed in the search engines, but people still visit, click, and buy. Who cares?
  • The new way is now to sell this idea in TV commercials to suckers who think the idea is brilliant, and expect to rake in the thousands of dollars a week that the "pioneers" did. The registrations are probably from all the $79.95 instruction booklet, get rich quick wannabes.
  • The fraud is against the advertisers who pay Google to put their publicity in sites with good content. If the sites go to empty sites, they are still paying Google for nothing and loosing money. I know people who stopped to put ads in content sites due to lower return by investiment.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas