Posted January 4, 2012 1:06 pm by with 5 comments

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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

  • Nice job following the break of this story. Is the Chrome tarnished or has G used the ostenible smear to spit-shine its image? I say, let’s be forgiving. They did the crime and implemented penalties. I mean, what should we do? Sick a panda on them or something?

  • michael

    SEOs have known for years — the media focus on Google represents the public awakening that Google is, like it or not, a monopoly, or perhaps better described as a duopoly, or part of an oligarchy. The crown princes of search are Google and Bing. Yahoo has nearly obliterated itself as anything but a media company.
    As part of that understanding, one looks for a sense that the huge horsepower of Google’s genius wears a bridle. Is the power of access to knowledge constrained at all? Because, without some divine sense of beneficence, a company as powerful as Google is poised for tyranny. More than half our goods are bought online. More than half of ALL adults research potential purchases online. This represents a ‘tipping point’ for our digital economy. The ebb and flow is under Google’s control. Will they use the power for good?

    • Roberto

      Search for the term ’email’ in Google and you get Gmail in the number 1 position. Search for the term ’email’ in Bing and you get the largest email service provider, Yahoo!.

      But, doesn’t a “monopoly” refer to a companies ability to control prices prices within a given market regardless of the demand or competition? Google’s services are free.

      ESPN controls a majority of its market. Do you consider that network a monopoly?

      I guess the fundamental question is; Will Google us its powers in a monopolistic way? I think the email example above demonstrates a movement in that direction.

      And if we aren’t really talking about a true monopoly, then what can be done if Google continues to abuse its power by only showing Google Maps, Youtube Videos, Gmail and surely soon enough we will be getting heavier doses of Google+. Try to find Facebook in Googles SERP without using the word Facebook in the search query.

  • Lindsay P.

    I’m not surprised people were watching to see if Google would abide by their own rules. However, I’m also not surprised that their email shows up or that their browser shows up. As much as it seems unfair to have their own products rank higher, it is their products. But perhaps it should be in the paid areas instead of the SERPs. I’m sure Google will encounter more icy waters in the future concerning them “playing favorites” to their own stuff, but wouldn’t you prefer your child over a strangers? Tricky.

  • Very Interesting. I do not have the knowledge that the other authors of the responses have, but found the Google trend toward control, and perhaps moving toward monopoly a thought to ponder. What are our options? Go with the flow, or use other mediums?