Google is pushing its own Chrome browser down in search rankings for 60 days following reports that the company was involved in an ad campaign that paid for links to bolster search traffic. And since Google has rules against that sort of thing and has worked hard to keep paid results out of its search engine, the reports were more than a bit embarrassing for the company.
The company said in a statement Tuesday that its campaign for Chrome was never supposed to involve paid links, and that it “never agreed to anything more than online ads.”
In updated remarks released late Tuesday night, Google’s PR team said, “We’ve investigated and are taking manual action to demote www.google.com/chrome and lower the site’s PageRank for a period of at least 60 days. We strive to enforce Google’s webmaster guidelines consistently in order to provide better search results for users. While Google did not authorize 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.”
As of Tuesday night, searches for “browser,” “chrome” and “google chrome” all showed that the browser’s main download page had fallen far down the search rankings and off the first several pages of results. Danny Sullivan of the blog Search Engine Land — one of the first to report on the story — said that he’d seen the page sink “to as low as 73.”
On Google+, webspam head Matt Cutts said that his team found that there was one sponsored post that “actually linked to Google’s Chrome page and passed PageRank” and found that was enough to manually demote the search results for up to 60 days.
“Even though the intent of the campaign was to get people to watch videos — not link to Google — and even though we only found a single sponsored post that actually linked to Google’s Chrome page and passed PageRank, that’s still a violation of our quality guidelines,” he said in a post on the social network.
“After that, someone on the Chrome side can submit a reconsideration request documenting their clean-up just like any other company would,” he added.
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