The rule-breaking was spotted by SEER Interactive’s Francis Shovlin, who noticed some pretty blatant examples on ads for certain search terms, and wrote about it on the company’s blog.
Search for “adwords,” for example, and the top result is — unsurprisingly — a Google ad for its AdWords program. Sitelinks underneath seem to link to specific pages where users can “Lean How to Advertise on Google” or the “Benefits of Google AdWords” or about “Costs and Payment.”
In fact, all of those links lead to nearly the same page — the only difference between the destinations being that a different tab, below the fold, is open for each link. Meanwhile, Google’s own guidelines say “Tabs on the same page count as the same page” and “We recommend that 80% of the content on a page be unique for that page to count as a different page.”
Google in September announced it would start more aggressively pursuing violators of the duplicate sitelinks policy, but it apparently hasn’t investigated its own ads.