back to article Without typo-squatters, how far would Google fall?

How much money is Google making from the world's typo-squatters? God only knows. Or rather: God, Eric Schmidt, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, and a few Oompah Loompahs inside their Mountain View Chocolate Factory. According to a recent study from McAfee and Harvard prof/cyber watchdog Ben Edelman - which relies on web data from May …


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  1. jake Silver badge

    Is anyone suggesting RICO?

    Could prove interesting ...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are we sure this is a problem

    Google tends to correct spelling.

    I think, google makes money from ads just on the paid for links at the top of google search engines.

    The adwords on other sites just go to give Google even more information about the usage of the web and well the world, without having to pay out anything more than a Common Wonka Bar all told :)

    At some point Google will just drop this whole advertising front, declare that they have all the data in the world, and that everyone is passing all information about any type of transaction through their systems at which point they will have won, the entire universe will call a mulligans and reset to 5000BC.

    It is not the accelerator thingy at CERN you have to worry about, it is the Google info game that will get us all, mark my words.

  3. ratfox

    You've got to hand it to Google

    They have what is closest to a goose that lays gold eggs. It's well and truly frightening.

  4. mittfh

    Google Typos

    Goggle is a completely different site - definitely not parked.

    Gogggle has AdWords.

    Gooogle redirects to Google.

    Googel redirects to Google.

    Gogle redirects to Google.

    Surely there must be more Google Typo sites that aren't owned by Google...

  5. Anonymous Coward

    ^ WTF?

    Mark my words, you didn't understand the article.

  6. Chris Beach

    How is this Google's fault?

    I'm sorry but Google didn't hand over these misspelled domains, but oh wait actually going after the registar's that did would a lot of hard work and without the publicity of attacking a well known brand.

    This slam against Google suffers from the same idiocy as a lot of the previous ones, in that some is assuming that Google 'knows', and worse should 'judge' what is a legal or illegal. Which is bullcrap, that kind of decision needs to stay with the courts.

  7. Anonymous Coward


    Google is making a whole lot of cash by syphoning off a few pence here and there for adverts on websites. They got to where they are by being better at it than everyone else and now all the bottom feeders are coming up to bit a chunk off googles big porky ass.

    Google is not doing anything wrong, and the typosquatters are not really doing anything that wrong... any company can register its own misspellings if they want, they just don't bother. If I had a brand which was important to me I would probably get a dozen pre schoolers (or reg commenters) to try typing it and then register the results.

  8. censored

    what's the problem?

    Someone mistypes a URL, gets a page they didn't want and either corrects their mistake or spots a useful ad and goes there instead. What's the problem? No-one gets hurt, users don't get stung. If Delll were selling dodgy computers on a site very similar to Dell then I could see a problem.

    Oh I see. Google gets paid. Carton Network gets paid. But Cartoon Network doesn't.

    This isn't a scam, this is merely multi-million pound business getting grumpy that they didnt think of I first.

  9. Xander
    Thumb Down

    I wasn't expecting that...

    I thought this article would be on how many people go to google because they're sick of those mis-spelt websites. If I type in catroonnetwork into google I get asked if I meant cartoonnetwork. If I type in I get some spammy ad page.

    Sometimes it's a tool, not a conspiracy. This is one of those times.

  10. Adam Foxton

    If you don't want misspelled links

    Use Google! It corrects your mistakes.

    Even Kertoonnetwork results in a "don't you mean Cartoon Network" link being displayed.

    So yet again they're both the cause of - and solution to - a lot of the 'net's problems. Google- is there anything it can't do?

  11. Paul

    I think these people are

    actualy doing a good job. If all you are getting from a miss spelling is a few add, hit the back button and try again. Not so long ago most of these pages would be full of all sorts of nasty stuff, now just some bad HTML and a few adds.

  12. Andrew Steer


    When I looked into it a few years ago, I found that putting Google adverts on pages with no other content is a violation of the T&Cs for basic AdSense. This seemed reasonable, bearing in mind that such pages are mere parasites on the system, and provide no value of their own.

    Then I discovered that Google has a special AdSense product - "AdSense for Domains" a.k.a. domainpark - see . This struck me as double-standards at the time.

    Quite honestly though, how often do you see a domainpark page compared to normal AdSense ads? And how relevant are they? Sometimes though, the Ads are designed to masquerade as 'helpful' redirection links (which is also a violation of Google's T&Cs). Even so, I'd hazard a guess and I'd be surprised if they contribute even as much as 3-4% of Google's revenue.

  13. Reg Varney

    About time someone did something about the pond-life doing this...

    Parasiting "CartoonNetwork", I can understand - there's several possible typos, though... Will nobody think of the innocent children??!!

    However, parasiting "Dell". HTF can anyone not manage to get "Dell" right*?

    * you've got to believe I was careful typing that! :-)

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    How enterprising

    Good for them who are the hurting? nobody

    Why the fungus should anyone care.

  15. Eddie Edwards
    Thumb Down

    I doubt they make much from this

    I mean, for a start, who types URLs?

    Secondly, who goes to a misspelt page and thinks, "ah well this isn't what I'm looking for, so instead of instantly clicking on "back" I'll read these ads".

    Thirdly, given a misspelling of a domain name, how can you tell what proportion of people actually mistype it that way? I'm sure many of these pages get no hits at all.

    Anyway, I just tried a few misspellings of "". One actually went to Cartoon Network (cartoonetwrk), one went nowhere (cartoonnework), and one went to a search page containing no Google ads (cartoonetwork). So is this story even true?

    (BTW, goes to a manufacturer of milk containers. Only joking. It goes to Cartoon Network too. Cartoon Network seem pretty well set up against typos akshully.)

  16. Richard Speight
    Paris Hilton

    Is this really Google's problem?

    Although I think the AC above is missing the point somewhat (this is not about ads served up after someone mistypes a brand name into Google, it's the ads on pages such as the point you towards the real Dell -- Dell end up paying Google simply because someone mistyped the domain into their address bar).

    However, is it really Google's job to ensure that the domain serving up the AdSense is owned by the owner of the brand? It's fair enough to register, so long as you're Dell. Okay, it's pretty easy to tell if you are Dell or not, but what about the millions of less well known companies?

    To get the domain, you have to register it through a registar. Surely it's their job to ensure that you're entitled to it.

    Paris, 'cos she's a type ho.

  17. Alastair Smith

    Show me...

    > provide valuable and relevant content on their parked pages

    Show me a domain parking page that provides valuable and relevant content. The sites are a nuisance, no question: they feed off someone else's name, potentially damaging the reputation of that brand, and they are another hurdle for surfers to get over before finding the information they really want.

  18. Simon Riley

    Nothing new

    As long as 10 years ago I read the advice to register common mis-spellings of your site's URL (e.g. used to have registered although checking now I see they allowed that one to lapse)

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Not Google

    Agree with other posters: this is not a Google issue. If folks want to sit on domains then they are responsible. It seems El Reg is looking for any story to slam Google with.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    its up to the company

    Years ago i had a couple of typo-squats of Microsoft dot com (i think it was

    After making at least $4 from ads (yes just four, not four million), i got a letter from MS's legal dept.

    I was very helpful and they were very nice about it all. I handed over the domain and filled in some forms promising not to cross MS again and we were all happy.

    If Dell / et all think its a problem then it is up to them to chase the domain and buy it.

  21. William Bronze badge

    @AC "Not Google"

    Get over yourself. El Reg is merely reporting on the lawsuit, not filing it!

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Not Google


    "Agree with other posters: this is not a Google issue. If folks want to sit on domains then they are responsible. It seems El Reg is looking for any story to slam Google with."

    No, it's not the Reg, it's MacAfee and Harvard that are slamming Google. The Reg is just reporting it.

    And they're right to: Google has a product designed to facilitate profiting from typos. They are attempting to back-door hijack the DNS while keeping their hands clean by getting other people to buy up unused domain names for them. Let's be clear: the sites you see are created by Google, not by the registered site owner.

    It's like coming in, setting up and running an illegal bar and when the fuzz turn up saying "Ain't my name on the lease, guvnor". They're doing the crime, and trying to outsource responsibility. We don't put up with that in the real world, so why should it be allowed in the virtual one?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    As pointed out, Google know how to fix it for themselves and do (gogle, gooogle, googel), however the art of buying up domain ranges went out with the .com bubble. Previously it was the done thing to buy everything (, org,, net, etc). Then companies realised that the behaviour of users was not to guess url's (well, maybe once) and so there was little point.

    Besides, how many people will get the wrong website and then click on an ad instead?? Unless it's a link to the correct site - in which case you could argue the 'typo-squatter' is carrying out a service and can get paid for it.

    Quite how MS could convince a court that Jeremy's "microsorft" was theirs is beyond me...

  24. Mat

    I've registered the above. I'm now off to retire on the squillions of pounds I'm going to earn!

  25. Gareth Williams

    I'm starting to feel sorry for Google

    Why the hatred for Google these days? Is it because Microsoft are doing such a good job of shooting themselves in the foot (crappy Vista uptake, their Mojave trickery, those dodgy TV adverts, etc...) that it's no longer fun to attack them?

    Unlike Microsoft, however, Google are shafting me but are also offering something useful in return and at least they don't expect me to pay, in monetary terms, for the privilege of being shat on from a great height.

    Hell, if this hate campaign keeps up I'm gonna start to actually feel sorry for Google.

  26. Sandra Greer

    ALL domain parking/squatting should be illegal

    If you type in a word and see this:

    <<1000 EUR This domain is available FOR SALE

    Please contact us for further instructions or click here for detailed description of sale process.>>

    or something similar, the registrar should be alerted to remove the domain. No, of course they won't -- someone pays for these registrations. Well, the registrar should be able to keep the fee!

    Good domain names are a scarce-enough resource and should not be grabbed for speculation. How do you feel when someone gets all the good seats by putting something on them for later arriving friends? How about if they did the same and didn't have any friends, just the intention of selling you the seats?

    BTW, if you type ( you get French Google! If you type, you get an actual page, dynamically generated, and the following:

    <<This domain may be for sale>>

    which points to which is a domain-name "mart". Professional squatting!

    vive la difference! I think.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Virtual vs real world

    I think the 'crime' here is the fact that the typo squatters are essentially making income off of someone else's copyright. People ending up at their domains aren't looking for them, they're looking for another legitimate brand but got to them because of a mistake.

    In the real world I guess this would be akin to EasyGroup suing (somewhat over enthusiastically) other companies using the Easy... term, who were in their eyes trying to gain custom through the passing off of their hard-earned brand. Or someone opening a bookshop called Waterstoones, say.

    And then we have the "do no evil" company making a nice slice off of this what is in effect illegal behaviour...

  28. Nigel Kneale

    Sigh - more misguided Google-bashing?

    "But whether Google has run afoul of the law or not, it's certainly enabling outfits that do. Judging from Edelman's study, Google could end 80 per cent of all typo-squatting if it would simply ban domain parkers from AdSense."

    Bollocks. Typo-squatting happened before without Google involvement, complete with ads. Under that proposal, the money will be earned by another organisation and the squatters will still exist.

  29. Jolyon Ralph
    Thumb Down

    So, it's a tax on shit typing.

    Doesn't seem that unfair to me. You type in wrong url, you get different site. Not what you want? Why not type it in correctly and stop moaning.

    "Oh but those pretty adverts look so intriguing, i must click them!".

    Bah. Tax on shit typing it is then.

    They've done this to my domains, thankfully my visitors tend to be the sort who can type properly to begin with.


  30. Anonymous Coward


    Cartoon Network has 3 O's already....

  31. Dave Murray

    Breaks Googles own rules, US law and is a PITA

    Spot the Google fanboys failing to get the point as usual.

    These sites break Google's own rules because they don't contain any content. They break a US law and Google is profiting from it - yes this is a problem, just as someone selling stolen goods is still breaking the law even if they didn't steal them. And, they are a pain in the ass.

    They are not a "tax on shit typing" since it is the owner of the correct domain who will pay the advertising fees, not the user. It is not "misguided Google bashing" as Google are breaking the law by encouraging something that is illegal. If they weren't making a lot of money out of this then they wouldn't have a service that is designed to enable it.

    You people need to wake up and realise that your great all giving, do-no-evil internet god is no different from any other money grabbing company.

  32. David Pollard

    @ Andrew Steer - Doublespeak

    The FAQ on Google's explanation of Adsense for domains would do Jacqui Smith proud.

    "We ... are actively trying to understand the best means to serve those who are currently not partners."

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Google Typos

    Hm, I did one of these as a proof of concept some time ago:

    of course, it isn't a direct typo; all the sane (and insane) possibilities are covered by google:

    and such.

  34. Bounty

    and it already has 2 T's

    If mistyped domains are already ilegal under ACPA, why doesn't someone prosecute? My content filter already blockes parked domains, it's not hard to find a database of most parked domains. Shouldn't there be cyber cops on patrol taking these jerks down? clearly is squatting on Does it have have ads linking to, NO, it has screensaver popups, links to Apple or Lenovo. So don't tell me cybersquatters don't hurt. Dell is loosing traffic to Apple because, Grandma doesn't know what Dell's website is supposed to look like. She just see's a link that says laptop, so she clicks it.... now she's at and some squatter just made money, Google has 80% chance of making money, and Dell lost money............ thanks to the squatter AND GOOGLE.

    (I feel sorry, for her grandson when he shows up and see's an Apple, and is like WFT? I said go to

  35. Hamza

    @ everyone saying "no-one's losing out"

    This isn't a victimless "crime" - the poor suckers paying for Google to divert users to their own website are paying for the privilege.

    But maybe it is a good service Google is providing. What's worse, paying a few pence for a fat-fingered user's custom or fat-fingers thinking your company has gone bust?

    Oh, and can't AdSense advertisers block their adverts from appearing on certain domains? Just program in all the typo-squatters dude!

    OK, I've changed my own mind - it's the poor suckers' fault.

  36. Steve Roper

    @ Eddie Edwards

    "Who types URLs?"

    Er - I do, every time I go to my bank's website, or indeed any website where I have confidential or sensitive information. I type the bank's or secure site's domain, manually, into the browser address bar, and I double-check my spelling when I do, before hitting Enter. That's basic security practice.

    Any numpty should know never to click on a link to a bank or sensitive-information website - even in your bookmarks - these are too easily compromised. And especially not in Google. You just never know what the bottom-feeding scamming scum are going to come up with next, and Google's own security record is far from perfect as I recall.

  37. James Hughes


    Sorry, but I have a question.

    How are Google 'encouraging' this behaviour, as stated in several posts above.

    By offering adverts? That anyone can have on any webpage (limited by Google T&C's)?

    I can't see how offering a service like this is encouraging typosquatting, anymore that someone offering guns for sale is encouraging murder. Yes, guns can be used in illegal ways, but, once you get past the laws regarding sale of guns, the seller has no responsibility for that the users do with them. Same with adverts.

  38. Anonymous Coward

    @ everyone bitching

    About the tone of the article. All I can say is look at the subject of the article and it's author. It's Metz writing a piece about Google. That alone should tell you what the tone of the article is going to be as we all know he has what borders on a pathological fascination/hatred of Google. It's a bit like asking "wtf where the hell is the IT angle" when reading something in the "Odds and Sods" section. So if you're sensitive about any negative press regarding Google and see "By Cade Metz" under the title, then I suggest you click a link to another story because all further reading is going to accomplish is the raising of your blood pressure.

  39. davebarnes

    I am confused

    The OP wrote: "Cartoon Network with three Os."

    Of course there are 3 Os; toon and wor.

    Seems correct to me.

    What am I missing?

    Oh, Oh. I know, the British spelling is Cartoun Netwourk.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    tie tell

    i dunno why so many of you are so quick to condemn what you're calling 'cybersquatters'. these people aren't cybersquatting. cybersquatting is when someone registers the name of a new product or company before the company itself gets round to registering it, or registers an existing domain name on an alternate TLD.

    how can anyone complain that someone is cybersquatting, if they've registered a completely different name? who decides what is a 'deliberate typo' and what is just a similar but different domain? if i had a cardboard box distribution company, i might have a legit reason for registering 'cartonnetwork'. should the 'british commercial bureau [fictitious] be barred from registering because it's a typo of the BBC's domain?

    when i first wanted to register my company's 'madra' domain way back in the 90's i initially tried '' only to find that it already existed in the form of the website for the 'mid atlantic disaster recovery association' [i kid you not!]. not being a multi-million £££ multinational corporation, i wasnae able to call on any expensive lawyers, so i just registered instead. problem solved!

    some of these megacorporations just need to STFU and realise that they dinnae have a god-given right to ownership of anything and everything that a user *might* think their web address *might* be.

    * for some reason i used to always typo '' when going to the temple of jobs and get taken to some enterprising desgn agency's page instead.

    * the other one i was forever getting wrong was ''. i knew the word was 'delicious' but could never remember where the dots went. a case of a domain name being to0 clever for its own good there. tho' i see they've changed it now

    * and finally, and another irony, the word 'domain' itself is one that i typo regularly. half the time i seem to type 'doamin'. maybe i could cybersquat the whole intarwebs by starting a company that sells 'doamin names' for slightly less than the equivalent 'domain name'?

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Steve Roper re: "who types URLs ?"

    Maybe not such a good idea for sensitive data unless you can guarantee that you don't have a naughty key-logger lurking about somewhere.

    Check out the excellent KeePass application which, among other things, allows you to store sensitive data in an encrypted database and drag-n-drop the data into appropriate fields. Works for me.

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