Google in breach of its own guidelines?


Google has not hidden its distaste with sites that produce paid or thin content that serve no purpose other than to make the pages appear higher in search engine results pages.

Update: As reported by Smart Company [1] and by Matt Cutts [2] on Google+ search quality team at Google has issued a manual penalty as a result of their own marketing efforts and will remain penalised for at least 60 days or until the reconsideration request has been submitted by Chrome team and approved by Google’s webspam team. Danny Sullivan explains more about the penalty on Search Engine Land [4]

Matt Cutts who is the head of Google’s web spam team has blatantly said that sponsored posting is not a reputable method for gaining links, and those that do so should be required to use the nofollow attribute to ensure that they aren’t given a better position in Google’s ranking system. 

Imagine the surprise that comes up when a search for the term “This post is sponsored by Google” displays over 400 individual pages of results [3]. The links appear to be part of a larger marketing campaign to improve the presence of Google Chrome. On the sites where these posts are located, the links point directly to a page where the user can download Chrome and does not contain the nofollow attribute. The posts also contain a video, which is an advertisement for Google Chrome, links directly to the page where users can download the Google Chrome browser.

Chrome Logo

If Google follows its own rules for penalties of sites that purchase links, they will need to ban the download page for a duration ranging from a single month up to a year. It has done so in the past with Overstock, Forbes and JC Penny for the same type of behavior. The action would harm the download page, which is harmful to their marketing team since they’re actively advertising for computer users to switch from their current browsers over to Chrome. 

When Google released their Panda update with the goal of penalising the garbage content that was being mass produced and released to benefit advertisers, they probably didn’t imagine their content would fall into the very actions they were speaking against. Some of the sponsored posts, which mentioned “Google Chrome benefits” mentioned the keywords without even explaining what Chrome was or how it can provide a benefit to the reader. Most sponsored posts that appeared at the top of the search engine results pages merely mentioned the browser and effectively contributed in creating useless and garbage content. 

Google still has yet to come forward with their official stance on the campaign or whether they, or a third-party company, are responsible for the posts.






Dan Petrovic is a well-known Australian SEO and a managing director of Dejan SEO. He has published numerous research articles in the field of search engine optimisation and online marketing. Dan's work is highly regarded by the world-wide SEO community and featured on some of the most reputable websites in the industry.

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6 Responses to “Google in breach of its own guidelines?”

  1. Looks like Google have now responded and have decided to demote themselves in their own search results for 60 days. I find the whole thing quite hilarious, but if anyone needs to set an example it’s Google. You can read more on Matt Cutt’s response here:

    • Lachlan
  2. Thanks I have updated the article!

    • Dejan SEO
  3. Thanks for the update Dan. It’s the right thing to do and I’m glad they did.

    • Anonymous
    • Dejan SEO
  5. Nice work! The internet moves quickly :)

    • Lachlan
  6. Thanks Dan. Many were happy that Google has taken action but it seems that many of those ‘many’ are still not happy about the penalty itself, saying that it’s not adequate. Your thoughts? 

    • Anonymous

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