Google has demoted Google Chrome’s PageRank for two months after it was revealed that a marketing campaign for the browser violated Google’s own webmaster guidelines for paid links and thin content.
According to a Search Engine Land report, Google hired UK-based marketing company Unruly Media to run an online video advertising campaign where bloggers were paid to “write about whatever they want[ed], positive or negative, with the only requirement being that the Chrome video be included as part of their post”.
The violation occurred when a blogger linked directly to Chrome’s download site without including a nonfollow attribute, which would have prevented the link from being picked up by Google’s ranking algorithm, according to the report.
As a result of the manual demotion, Google Chrome, one the top ranking responses to searches on browsers before the incident, has dropped significantly, now appearing on page five of a Google search, apart from the sponsored link right at the top of page one.
In response to the report, Matt Cutts, head of Google’s web spam team, said in a statement on Google + that his team conducted a thorough investigation into the matter, and found that out of the dozen posts, only one blog violated guidelines.
“In response, 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 can 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,” he said.
The company added in a statement sent to Search Engine Land that “While Google did not authorise this campaign, and we can find no remaining violations of our webmaster guidelines, we believe Google should be held to a higher standard, so we have taken stricter action than we would against a typical site.”
This is not the first time Google has punished itself for an infraction. Last year Google penalised BeatThatQuote for a similar violation, on the same day it acquired the company.