It perhaps wasn’t the start to the year that Google would’ve wanted, but it’s now common knowledge.
The search engine giant has apparently been caught breaching its own guidelines on promoted products. It stands accused of paying bloggers to promote and link to its web browser Google Chrome. Obviously Google rigorously denies any collusion, but if proven, the search giant could be forced to ban its own product, rather than appear hypocritical.
The original allegations were highlighted on a blog called SEO Book earlier this week.
The blog is well known for looking at the less salubrious elements of search engine optimisation and highlighting areas where dubious practices have taken place. Blogger Aaron Wall drew attention to the fact that he discovered more than 400 web pages that claimed ‘this post is sponsored by Google.’ Understandably he surmised by this must be part of some form of concerted marketing campaign. He argued that not only did this breach Google’s own rules about buying links, but it also spread misinformation. Google had previously been very keen to penalise firms like J C Penney for malpractice with its marketing policies, so it was therefore only logical that Google should administer a similar penalty for its own apparent misdeeds.
Google came out fighting as we have become accustomed to, and laid the blame squarely at the door of a number of advertising agencies that worked for it. A spokesman told another SEO website, Search Engine Land:
“Google never agreed to anything more than online ads… We’re now looking at what changes we need to make to ensure that this never happens again.”
What can’t be denied is that the campaign apparently violated Google’s own rules on links from ‘thin’ computer-generated content and buying links to artificially enhance its search engine ranking.
So is Google about to self-administer a punishment? Some how you very much doubt it.
Maybe it is true that are two sets of rules at work here: one for them, and another for the rest of us. We’ll certainly never know, and we’ll of course never be able to prove it. It would be deliciously ironic if Google did bite the bullet and enforce its own rules. As Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan added in jest: “potentially, all this means that Google will have to ban the Google Chrome download page.”