Jan 5, 2012 115 reads by Navneet Kaushal

In news that has the entire search industry gripped, Google has penalized its own Chrome browser in the search results. Google has levied a penalty against the browser as result of which Chrome has lost its position in SERP. The 60 day penalty has taken effect and Chrome is not ranking for keywords like- ‘Chrome, Chrome browser or even internet browser’.

As additional penalty, the PageRank of www.google.com/chrome has been lowered too. Matt Cutts, Google’s head of webspam team has confirmed the penalty via a post on Google+: “In response, the webspam team has taken manual action to demote www.google.com/chrome for at least 60 days. After that, someone on the Chrome side can submit a reconsideration request documenting their clean-up just like any other company would. During the 60 days, the PageRank of www.google.com/chrome will also be lowered to reflect the fact that we also won’t trust outgoing links from that page.”

Google Links

This is Google’s reaction after the search engine was accused of buying links for promoting their browser- Google Chrome. It was revealed that Google seemed to be a part of a sponsored posts SEO campaign dedicated to buying links for Chrome. However, in their reaction, Google has denied any knowledge of the quality guidelines being violated, as they were aware of only buying video ads.

When the news broke-  “Gasp! Google buying paid links?”
In a stunning disclosure by Aaron Wall, it was revealed that the Search Engine giant, Google was caught buying paid linksto promote Chrome for the keyword "browser". Aaron said that a search for the term “this post is sponsored by Google" returned over 400 results. What was in the results- All of them contained thin or worse garbage content, and a Google video ad and link to the Chrome website. This paid links campaign was in clear violation of Google’s own webmaster guidelines. These state that all advertising links must have a rel="nofollow" attribute in the link code. Whereas the paid links promoting Chrome were not ‘nofollow’.

Google Links

Most of the blogs were written in the month of December, as we had to sort out the search preferences to reach the results page. Google has now had all these blogs removed. As we clicked on them and all the first page results led to ‘404 Errors.

When Google’s reaction statement came-  “Oh! Google didn’t know of the paid links campaign!”
Google has since stated that they only intended to buy online ads. This was the official statement from Google- “Google never agreed to anything more than online ads. We have consistently avoided paid sponsorships, including paying bloggers to promote our products, because these kind of promotions are not transparent or in the best interests of users. We’re now looking at what changes we need to make to ensure that this never happens again.”

Google, it seems, had hired a marketing company, Unruly to run a promotion campaign for Google Chrome. One of the bloggers has revealed that they got $ 40 gift voucher, in return for every sponsored blog written on Google Chrome.

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 the Eword, 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?"

When Google penalized Chrome-  “OMG! What transparency!”
The search fraternity was waiting for some move by Google, and Google obliged by taking the route it took with the likes of JC Penny. The Chrome website and download page have been pushed way down below in search results. This is the official Google statement on the same,

“We’ve investigated and are taking manual action to demote www.google.com/chrome and lower the site’s PageRank for a period of at least 60 days. We strive to enforce Google’s webmaster guidelines consistently in order to provide better search results for users. While Google did not authorize 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.”

Now, this paid links fiasco may be the result of two different agencies being involved. Even if Google was unaware, but quality guidelines were violated, and now Google applied a solid penalty against itself. A 60 day penalty, where the SERP of Google Chrome for the term ‘internet browser’ dropped from 5th to 58th. And for the term ’web browser’ dropped from 4th to 54th.

Matt Cutts shared some more information on Google+ and revealed that video player links didn’t pass any link juice. However, as they found at least one non-video player link that linked, they decided to implement the penalty. Matt said:

If you investigated the two dozen or so sponsored posts (as the webspam team immediately did), the posts typically showed a Google Chrome video but didn’t actually link to Google Chrome. We double-checked, and the video players weren’t flowing PageRank to Google either. However, we did find one sponsored post that linked to www.google.com/chrome in a way that flowed PageRank. Even though the intent of the campaign was to get people to watch videos–not link to Google–and even though we only found a single sponsored post that actually linked to Google’s Chrome page and passed PageRank, that’s still a violation of our quality guidelines, which you can find at http://support.google.com/webmasters/bi … er=35769#3

The bottomline– Google follows its own rules. And punishes itself too in the case of violations. Your take on this?

Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal is the founder and CEO of PageTraffic, an SEO Agency in India with offices in Chicago, Mumbai and London. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic as one of the most awarded and successful search marketing agencies.
Navneet Kaushal
Navneet Kaushal
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