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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Google Caught Buying Paid Links

By: Matthew Elshaw

... Penalizes Their Own Website. Google have penalized their own Google Chrome website after it emerged that the URL was caught up in a paid links promotion, a violation of their webmaster guidelines.

The problem has arisen after Google paid Unruly Media, an international media agency, to get a number of paid bloggers to promote a video for its Chrome browser featuring a US flour company. While the campaign might have had good intentions, the posts ended up creating a lot of junk content and links to download Google Chrome which were subsequently indexed by Google.

Here are some examples of posts about Google chrome that pass PageRank through paid links and contain low quality content,

As you can see from the images above, the first post contains a link to the Google Chrome download page and the second post does not mention anything about Google chrome until the last sentence.

Surprisingly, it's not the first time this has happened. Back in 2010, Google banned their AdWords help pagesbecause of cloaking; a black hat technique that serves up different pages to search engines and users.

Google's Response

Google has responded to the findings just like they would any other website " with a penalty. Google have demoted the rankings of the (the page has dropped from page 1 to page 7 for the keyword "browser") and reduced the PageRank of the chrome landing page.

Even a search for "Google Chrome" does not show any organic results for, instead the top link is from Google's support pages,

Here's the full statement from Google's Matt Cutts,

I'll give the short summary, then I'll describe the webspam team's response. Google was trying to buy video ads about Chrome, and these sponsored posts were an inadvertent result of that. 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 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 .

In response, the webspam team has taken manual action to demote 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 will also be lowered to reflect the fact that we also won't trust outgoing links from that page.

About the Author:
Matt is a marketing professional at, an international search marketing firm. Matt's passion for online marketing began at university and has proved invaluable in steering product development and marketing initiatives at the company. Matt is a regular contributor to the ineedhits search marketing blog.