Google demotes own site after paid post blunder

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Google's been forced to demote its own Chrome site in search results, after it was found to be using techniques to boost its page rank that fell foul of its own rules.

Last February, and again since, the company introduced changes to its algorithm designed to weed out, amongst other offenders, sites which use paid links to boost search rankings.

Now, it seems, Google's been doing just that itself.

A series of sponsored blog posts has been spotted that link back to Google itself - likely to boost search rankings, as Google's PageRank algorithm values such links highly.

While this in itself doesn't fall foul of Google's rules, such pages are required to include a 'no-follow' tag to avoid skewing the results in this way. The 400-odd posts spotted by SEO Book and Search Engine Land don't.

Google, though, may not be directly to blame. The company says it dodn't actually plan a sponsored-post campaign, but instead commissioned a series of video ads from a company called Essence Digital. Essence then asked a firm called Unruly Media to distribute the ads.

"Google have consistently avoided paid postings to promote their products, because in their view these kind of promotions are not transparent or in the best interests of users," says a breast-beating Essence Digital.

"In this case, Google were subjected to this activity through media that encouraged bloggers to create what appeared to be paid posts, were often of poor quality and out of line with Google standards. We apologize to Google who clearly didn’t authorize this."

But Google's prepared to take its own medicine. The www.google.com/chrome site will now be downrated in the rankings for at least two months, it's promised.