The Search world is all a-twitter with the news that the Google Spam team has downgraded the search rankings for the Google Chrome group because their actions resulted in bloggers being paid to write posts that included links to Google Chrome web pages. That is in violation of the Google Quality Guidelines.
The Google Quality Guidelines Violation
The penalty for violating Quality Guidelines occurred when Google hired two top marketing agencies to promote the Chrome web browser using video content.
Google reportedly bought online video ads from a digital media agency called Essence Digital. Essence then reportedly hired another company called Unruly to carry out Google’s video ad campaign. The end result was that a number of blogs wrote positive posts (with the video embedded) about Google Chrome for compensation – the reward was apparently Amazon gift cards.
These blog posts were of inferior quality, said little about Google Chrome but did include links back to Chrome web pages.. Google then issued a statement that addressed the issue:
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.
The Google Wrist-Slapping
Google has now slapped its own wrist over this Chrome pay-for-blogging flap. It is downgrading the search result ranking of the company’s own Web browser, Google Chrome, for 60 days. The punishment imposed on Chrome will significantly lower the results ranking of the main download page for the browser.
According to Matt Cutts, Google’s head of webspam, 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 will need to 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.
The Irony of this Google Wrist-Slapping
Ignoring any Google internal politics that may be involved here, there is a certain irony in the events here. This involves the following steps:
- Google builds a search engine based on an algorithm that puts weight on the number of back links to web pages
- The Online world reacts to this as everyone tries to create massive numbers of back links to their web pages sometimes by paying
- Google attempts to stop this tsunami of back links by adopting quality guide lines to ‘outlaw’ paid links
- Google inadvertently violates its own quality guidelines as many others innocently do
- Google penalizes itself to set an example
Google is behaving like King Canute here and its action will have no long term effect. Better by far than taking step 5 when step 4 occurred, would be to rethink step 1 when step 2 occurred. Google continues to promote the PageRank concept as if it has marketing effectiveness. Most knowledgeable observers of this scene suggest it should be buried. That would be the way to avoid embarrassing wrist-slapping incidents like this.