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Google Demotes Chrome Browser in Search Results After “Unintentional” Paid Link Campaign

This post comes from our Search News Channel sponsor WebiMax.

It appears Google does, in fact, hold themselves accountable (to some degree) for their own policies and guidelines. News broke late on Monday by Aaron Wall (an internet marketer who founded, when his community discovered a “This post is sponsored by Google” sponsored post.

Search marketers know very well that Google has a strict stance against paid links and states in their guidelines that “some SEOs and webmasters engage in the practice of buying and selling links that pass PageRank, disregarding the quality of the links”, noting that “buying and selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results.”

Google’s official statement was:

“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.”

As soon as this news broke, everyone in the SEO community wondered what would be Google’s response. Will they hold themselves to their own rules? It appears they somewhat do as Google applied a penalty against the page and searching for the keyword “browser” no longer returns Google Chrome.

Google’s distinguished engineer, Matt Cutts formerly posted:

“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”

Google announced that they are reducing the PageRank for domain for up to and including 60 days. Interestingly enough, searching for “browser” no longer returns Google Chrome in the organic listings, although it will show up in the paid search box. Searching “chrome” however will still return Chrome in the organic listings, PageRank 1.

Top billing is now going to the Download and Install page with Google Chrome coming up as a sitelink. In addition, Google’s listing for the query “browser” has been pushed all the way back to page 5.

Although the domain was penalized, Google may not be doing enough to account for their actions. Since they are under recent criticism by a US Senate Subcommittee for allegations of the search titan abusing their power in the industry to favor some search engine results, Google has done the minimum to respond.

Further dialogue is anticipated as to how this type of thin content and linking practice could have made it’s way through quality control in purchasing their video ads. This type of organic drop is not welcome news on the heels of recent news that Google and Firefox renew their search deal and its goal of increasing browser market share.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are not necessarily those of Marketing Pilgrim.

Todd Bailey is Vice President of Digital Strategy at WebiMax, a leading SEO company with 500+ clients and 150+ employees as well as Lead Contributor at