Google is accidentally making money from other 'Alphabet' firms

Google is an original name. It’s based on the word googol (1.0 × 10100), but with a different spelling. Alphabet, the name of the tech giant’s new parent company, is far from unique, however. There are hundreds of other "alphabet"-named companies right across the globe. The best known of these being the BMW subsidiary Alphabet International GmbH which owns both www.alphabet.com and www.alphabet.co.uk.

BMW is currently looking into whether Google has committed any form of trademark infringement with its new company name and obviously has the financial clout to take things to court if it feels it has a case. But BWM isn’t the only example of a company with Alphabet in its name, and some -- like Alphabet Signs based in rural Pennsylvania -- find themselves in the weird (and painful) position of paying Google for searches that have nothing to do with them.

Alphabet Signs uses Google Adwords to advertise itself online and sales have been steady lately. However, owner Daniel Keane told me that after Google announced its restructuring plans last week, "There was a huge fluctuation in sales, culminating in a big fat zero on Thursday that Google charged us exactly $586.71 for! Not good".

It’s not just the racking up of Alphabet Signs’ Google Adwords bill that’s an issue either. "It's hit our organic traffic too -- hard", Keane explains. "We generally get around 25 percent of our traffic from our brand name. However, that dropped to ZERO! At this point, our overall search traffic is down around 30 per cent total -- we're a mid-size sign shop in Gap, Pennsylvania, and online is our bread and butter".

Searches are up, and sales are down, but Alphabet Signs has no option other than to continue using Google Adwords and try to weather the storm. "We can't be the only ones suffering. I know BMW made all the headlines, but there’s hundreds of businesses with the word Alphabet in their name", Keane says.

Photo credit: Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley / Shutterstock