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“Fate. It seems, is not without a sense of irony.” My last post had a huge section on Google’s efforts to combat poorly constructed, spammy and thin content. Last week, Aaron Wall of SEO Book exposed Google doing the opposite of what they are actively and public against. Google hired a digital agency, Essence, that initiated a marketing campaign which generated a lot of poorly written paid blog posts promoting the Chrome product, at least one of the posts were found containing followed backlink to the Google Chrome page.
If you haven’t been keeping up with this news, below is a quick summary of what happened:
The accidental links that came out of this campaign is not what we should be focusing on, rather the amount of poor quality and thin content generated as a result of the unruly campaign promoting the Chrome advert, which was not an accident! If you do a search for “this post is sponsored by Google” Google will return hundreds of results full of rubbish content written to promote the video.
The Unruly campaign generated for Google Chrome is exactly what Matt Cutts and the Panda updates has been fighting against – bad quality content.
How Google responded
Google has responded very well to this whole situation, probably partly due to experience. In 2011 Google banned BeatThatQuote.org [one of Google’s own] for violating the webmaster guidelines. In 2009 Google Japan was also banned for paying bloggers to review the search engine.
Below is what Matt Cutts the Head of Webspam team at Google responded with:
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.
A 60 days ban is quite respectable and the Chrome page falling over 50 places for terms such as “browser” or “internet browser”. Google did have to be harsh on its own property as this is the kind of practice they are very vocally against. Google’s PR department handled this very well.
Whichever way you look at this, Google have messed up. If they are not buying links they cannot deny they knowingly initiated a campaign that paid bloggers generate poor quality promotional content for the Chrome product.
There is a lot of confusion on this topic in the industry, so while we are here I thought I’d add a quick bonus section to clarify some myths and facts surround paid links.
Link buying myths
Link buying facts
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