In another thread, a member posted the URL (since removed) of what might be termed a classic "Made for AdSense" site. For the benefit of newcomers who haven't seen such sites, let me describe what this one is:
The overall topic is "widget ------ling." The site's home page consists of links to pages optimized for keyphrases such as "widget ------ling in Springfield," "widget ------ling in Shelbyville," "Christian widget ------ling," and so on. The site has several hundred pages in all.
If you go to the page on "widget ------ling in Elbonia," you'll find a block of standard text that has been modified via a script or search-and-replace program to read something like:
"This page is about widget ------ling in Elbonia. If you're interested in widget ------ling in Elbonia, you can read our information on widget ------ling in Elbonia or chat about widget ------ling in Elbonia to learn all about widget ------ling in Elbonia."
The left column consists of AdSense ads disguised as a navigation bar. (Colors have been modified to eliminate ad borders and make the the "Ads by Google" hard to see.)
Clearly, this site violates the Google TOS, which state that an AdSense publisher's pages can't be created "for the purpose of displaying ads" even if the content is on target. (One might also think that the borderless ads disguised as a navigation bar would violate the TOS, but they don't, because Google made the mistake of listening to publishers who insisted that control over ad colors was necessary for "site aesthetics.")
I'd like to think that, when Google discovers sites like this, it takes action. Such sites are bad for users, bad for advertisers, bad for Google Search, and bad for the credibility of Google's "content network" among current and future advertisers. The question is, what can Google to do to discourage the creation of such sites? Here are some ideas for discussion:
1) Require that publishers obtain Google's approval for each site or subdomain where the AdSense code is to be used. Better yet, use technical means to ensure that code isn't displayed on non-approved domains or subdomains.
2) "Sandbox" revenues of new accounts and new sites under existing accounts for a reasonable period--say, 60 to 90 days--or until the AdSense QC team has done a couple of spot-checks to make sure that the site is legitimate.
3) Perform regular spot checks of any account that has revenues above a certain figure.
4) Tighten up the color and layout requirements for AdSense ads: e.g., require that the ads have borders and don't allow them to be used in lieu of navigation bars.
5) Work more closely with the Google Search team, so that any site banned by Google Search is also banned by AdSense and vice versa.
These steps might not eliminate the problem of "Made for AdSense" sites that threaten the viability of contextual advertising and clutter Google's search results, but they'd be be a step in the right direction.