Photo: Flickr CC, Eli Brown
Google has been paying bloggers to write posts in praise of Google Chrome, which is a violation of its own standards on such things.But Google apparently didn’t know it was doing this.
So, with full denial still on its lips, Google has decided to slap its own wrist and downgrade the page rank on Google Chrome for at least two months, reports Search Engine Land.
In a statement published to Search Engine Land, Google said:
“We strive to enforce Google’s webmaster guidelines consistently in order to provide better search results for users. While Google did not authorise this campaign, and we can find no remaining violations of our webmaster guidelines, we believe Google should be held to a higher standard, so we have taken stricter action than we would against a typical site.”
This has been embarrassing for Google. The company declared war against exactly the kind of paid link drivel that was being produced on behalf of its Chrome browser.
Those posts were produced via a contract it had with London ad company Unruly Media, reports All Things D. The campaign was discovered by Search Engine Land two days ago, and has been causing outrage among rule-following Webmasters and advertisers since.
That’s because Google had previously famously penalised others including JC Penny, Forbes and Overstock.com for using these kinds of paid links. Says Search Engine Land when it uncovered the campaign:
“The head of Google’s web spam team, Matt Cutts, has been quite vocal that sponsored posts shouldn’t be a way for people to gain links in response for payment, that any links in such posts should use the nofollow attribute to prevent them from passing credit to Google’s ranking algorithm. And yet here, we see one of Google’s sponsored post doing exactly that.”
To be fair, most of the posts were not in violation of Google’s policy, meaning they did not contain links to the Chrome page. On top of that, it seems Unruly Media didn’t actually have Google’s authorization to conduct this particular type of campaign. Google says it had hired the ad agency strictly to buy online video ads.
In the meantime, Chrome advertising, authorised or not, certainly hasn’t hurt. Chrome is on the verge of besting Internet Explorer in popularity. Two months of downgraded search rankings probably won’t stop that train.