Google penalises Chrome after paid links fiasco

Wed 4th of January 2012, filed under SEO

This post is sponsored by Google

Google has been forced to penalise its own Chrome browser in the SERPs after it was revealed to be participating in a sponsored posts SEO campaign, effectively buying links for the company.

The problem was first brought to light in a blog by Aaron Wall on SEObook, who found that the search term "this post is sponsored by Google" returned over 400 results. All of them contain thin content, a Google video ad, and link to the website for the Chrome browser. The controversy stems from Google's Webmaster Guidelines stating that links purchased for advertising should include a rel="nofollow" attribute in the link code - which these Chrome links do not.

Shooting yourself in the foot

Violations like this usually result in a penalty like that faced by JC Penney not so long ago: removal from the SERPs. And Google seems to be treating its own products no differently. The Chrome website and download page are both now missing from Google search results, while the support pages and Wikipedia entries rank top. It has not been revealed how long this penalty will last, but fortunately for Chrome, the PPC ad has not been affected.

Google has since stated that they only intended to buy online ads. Meanwhile, marketing agency Essence Digital has come forward, saying they were contracted to post video ads, and Google was unaware that they would appear in the form of sponsored posts containing links.

Mark Baker, online marketing manager at theEword, said: "This is really embarrassing for Google, as it breaks their own rules in terms of paid links and the Panda algorithm update. But it looks like Google wasn't entirely to blame, and is now holding its hands up and facing the consequences. However, there are still some questions left unanswered: why did they sign up for video ads in the first place, and was anybody at the company checking the progress of the campaign?"

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