Internet Explorer Doing Sponsored Posts: Bing & Google To Dish Out Penalties?

Jun 18, 2014 • 9:33 am | comments (58) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Search & Web SEO Spam

google microsoft ie bing penaltyAs I covered this morning at Search Engine Land - Will Google & Bing Penalize Microsoft Over Their Sponsored Post Campaign For Internet Explorer?

I suspect they will have to.

What happened?

Microsoft seems to have contracted SocialChorus to run a campaign to generate buzz and awareness over their new Internet Explorer. As you know, IE has been getting a pretty bad rap these days.

SocialChorus has reached out to many bloggers, including Michael Arrington who posted the email exchange about this campaign.

Looking into the campaign details as posted over here, it is clear that this is a sponsored post campaign where bloggers are paid to write about their experiences using Internet Explorer. It encourages linking to the brand pages and yes, the bloggers are compensated for doing so.

No where does it mention using the nofollow attribute, thus making these links on the blog posts also paid and thus against both Bing's webmaster guidelines and Google's webmaster guidelines.

The big question is when will the penalties be dished out, if ever. The campaign is very new, so I am not sure how many paid links were set up yet. It is unclear where the bloggers would be linking to.

The funny part is that Google did this themselves, almost the exact same thing. They promoted Chrome via paid links and sponsored posts and it lead to Google penalizing themselves.

Clearly Matt Cutts of Google is aware of this:

Social Chorus is also aware they made a bobo.

Just wants to make you go, what!?

Forum discussion at Google+ and Twitter.

Update: A Microsoft spokesperson sent us the following statement:

This action by a vendor is not representative of the way Microsoft works with bloggers or other members of the media. The program has been suspended.

Here is a PDF of the text on the unbounced page, which they have removed.

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Durant Imboden

06/18/2014 01:53 pm

Actually, that's "dish out" penalties, not "ditch out" penalties. (Unless you were trying to make a trenchant observation.)

Stuart David

06/18/2014 01:57 pm

Does that indicate that Google have a kind of, 'care list', when it comes to big (rival/advertisers) brands and making internal contact before dropping the hammer? Given the effort Matt is going to in tracking down someone?

Barry Schwartz

06/18/2014 01:57 pm

Ugh, thanks… way behind schedule and really rushing. :(


06/18/2014 02:03 pm

Given the effort Matt is going to in tracking down someone? a couple of tweets? lmao

Stuart David

06/18/2014 02:07 pm

I didn't imply the effort was huge? But, any effort of this nature is rare + noteworthy and a good indicator for future analysis surely? But hey, like, watever, lmao, lol, rofl, omg, etc etc


06/18/2014 02:33 pm

Remember when the web was a place of freedom... I wish we could all just collectively tell Google to go F!@# itself so we could be done with this nonsense.


06/18/2014 02:43 pm

Here you go dfsgh;


06/18/2014 03:06 pm

You don't have the freedom to not use Google services? Gee, that is news to me. You would think Barry would cover Google forcing you to use their products. Oh wait...


06/18/2014 03:21 pm

If you link to so-and-so PENALTY... if so-and-so links to you..PENALTY... if those links were paid... PENALTY... You may like having Google tell you what you can and can't do on your own website... if it makes you happy be a sheep. Google is going to end up on the wrong side of history... its just a matter of time. Oh wait...


06/18/2014 03:23 pm

I like it better than what we have now.


06/18/2014 03:29 pm

You don't have the freedom to not use [INSERT_MONOPOLY_HERE]? Gee, that is news to me. You would think Barry would cover [INSERT_MONOPOLY_HERE] forcing you to use their products. Oh wait... [INSERT_MONOPOLY_HERE]

the alive network

06/18/2014 04:32 pm

I feel sorry for your employer if you think tweeting is any sort of work "effort"!


06/18/2014 04:35 pm

Google tells you what they expect to have your site listed on their platform. Nobody is making you worry about Google and the traffic they can send to your domain. They own the product, you get to use it for free. Don't like it? Then don't worry about their guidelines. Hell, you can choose to have them not index your site at all. Google is not the internet. Don't want to be a part of Google, then don't. Market your site/service elsewhere, there are plenty of alternatives. What don't you understand about this?


06/18/2014 04:36 pm

There are plenty of viable alternatives. 'Wah, Google isn't catering to my exact wishes and demands, wah!" Stop whining already.


06/18/2014 04:38 pm

"Hello, my name is 'the alive network', and I don't understand context." "Hello the alive network!"


06/18/2014 05:13 pm

"plenty"? "viable alternatives"? Do you actually believe that? I don't. It's total crap. Bing is 8% of my organic traffic. Yahoo is 2%... the rest do less. MONOPOLY Not whining... I don't expect Google to change... just cutting through your ignorant BS.


06/18/2014 05:20 pm

And I tell Google to go F!@#$ themselves. The fact that I don't use their services doesn't make what they are doing RIGHT. I understand they aren't obligated to anyone but their shareholders. Every damn monopoly EVER uses the defense that you are free to just stop using their products or services. It only costs you your career or business. GEE THANKS! No monopoly leverage there! Thanks a lot Einstein!

Yo Mamma

06/18/2014 05:48 pm

Ethalon is a silly small man

Mark Warner

06/18/2014 05:49 pm

That's is not a very healthy mentality. If that was my own sentiment, I would quickly switch industries and go do something else because there is no realistic way to operate as an SEO and not be miserable if you have those feelings. It's going to carry over throughout your life. You tell your co-workers this too? Or just when you post anonymously online? You can respond if you wish, but my comment is more focused towards the other readers here that still have a chance at being successful in the SEO world. You won't change Google, you can only change yourself and if you expect to be successful in life or in business, it will be extremely difficult to do so with that kind of mentality. The main exception will be if the USPS starts hiring for SEO help, you would fit right in there.

Yo Mamma

06/18/2014 05:49 pm

You are boring

Yo Mamma

06/18/2014 05:50 pm

My mentality is good, but your mentality is BAD?? WTF Whats so healthy about that Confucius? If you think of G$$GLE as a person, a bad, evil person, what person do you think of when thinking of G$$GLE? Personally I think of Hitler, seriously I do


06/18/2014 05:56 pm

And it is Google's fault that people are choosing to not use other search engines? That is...insane. You don't seem to understand what makes a monopoly and the amount of choice that exists in the online space.


06/18/2014 05:58 pm

You are responsible for finding alternative means of putting your product/service in front of eyeballs. Rely only on Google and you are already failing.


06/18/2014 06:11 pm

I hear what you are saying... I appreciate the way you said it even more. I understand all of it... I fully intend on not ever being at Google's mercy. It still doesn't make what they do RIGHT. At some point you (not you specifically but SEOs in general) need to think about how many times you're are willing to let Google slap you in the face with a rubber dildo before you have the RIGHT to be upset about it.

Yo Mamma

06/18/2014 06:25 pm

@gregghanano and @dannysullivan shouldn't be so glib in communicating with G$$GLE. G$$GLE is a notorious bully and just like in life, you always have the ball-less tugging at their skirt tails, so its seen here. If Hitler was internet savvy, he would be a major G$$GLE shareholder. Consider this the 1930's, just warming up the ovens. (hypothetical obviously, not that G$$GLE will murder millions in ovens, which is an insane thought anyway) Remember who you're sucking up to


06/18/2014 06:26 pm

LOL... Insane?... thought experiment the job interview... "Yes I want a career in SEO. What? Why isn't Google on my resume? I specialize in Bing! Hello? Hello?" thought experiment on the business side... "90% of our organic search traffic comes from Google and 90% of the opportunities in organic search reside on Google. Lets hire a Yandex expert." What part of the organic search market where MONEY changes hands has any competitive flexibility? MONOPOLY Please spell out a realistic alternative in ORGANIC SEARCH... where Google's monopoly resides.

Yo Mamma

06/18/2014 06:26 pm

"And it is Google's fault" Yes it is ethalon, you so dar gone right it is Now move on will ya

Yo Mamma

06/18/2014 06:30 pm

Then why do you put so much effort into defending an entity you claim should not be relied upon? Can you explain your irrational obsession in defending G$$GLE daily?


06/18/2014 06:31 pm

I don't rely on Google... That doesn't mean I can't be upset with what they do.


06/18/2014 06:53 pm

For the record... I used to be a Google fanboy from day one... It is only in the past 5-6 years that I have really become disenchanted with the brand.


06/18/2014 07:27 pm

Ok.. Nice


06/18/2014 08:00 pm

Silly? Yes. Small? Not really.


06/18/2014 08:09 pm

Traditional marketing. Social marketing. Creative content on/off site. Customer centric thinking that fosters continuing engagement and word-of-mouth. Real world presence and marketing. Industry trade shows/conferences... ...the list goes on. Not everything applies to everyone, but if you are simply relying on Google, you are failing or setting yourself up to fail. If I was interviewing a prospective SEO, I would want to know that they have other avenues besides relying on Google rankings/traffic to explore. SEOs shouldn't be hired to be Google puppies, they should integrate into a marketing team/role and actually address the realities of an evolving online landscape as opposed to stopping up their ears and screaming "it's Google's fault!" If you, the proverbial you, are running some thin affiliate or doorway site, then honestly, I am glad you are gone. Everything else can be creative and build a traffic/user base that helps to establish them in their niche. If you can't, then you are probably failing to offer something many find meaningful/useful/enjoyable/etc... Would you look at that, it is almost like the web is evolving and barely resembles what it was ten years, five years, one year ago. It is almost like running a business...people and companies succeed and fail. But go on, blame Google and your imagines monopoly.


06/18/2014 08:09 pm

Fair point.


06/18/2014 08:11 pm

Daily? Not really. I have plenty of issues with Google and have voiced them here before. I am reacting to the horrendous amount of disinformation and ignorance that comment sections like this seem to draw in now that the guidelines are enforced and the easy money spigot has run dry. I fear for and feel for the novice who is just starting off and finding comment sections full of unsubstantiated junk that is easily dispelled with a few minutes thought and attention.

The alive network

06/18/2014 08:15 pm

Hi my name is Ethel and I'm a big man on Internet forums but a small man in the real world!


06/18/2014 08:18 pm

So you can't name one realistic alternative in organic search. Got it.


06/18/2014 08:43 pm

1. You said there were "plenty of viable alternatives" in SEO and then couldn't name one. You wen't outside of organic search which is basically saying pick a new marketing channel. 2. You called contrary opinions "whining"? 3. Then you call it "disinformation and ignorance" and "unsubstantiated junk" after you fail to make your case. 4. You claim that Google doesn't have a monopoly position in organic search... see point 1. Novices don't need protecting... they can decide things for themselves.

F1 Steve

06/18/2014 08:59 pm

Durante, if one (ie me) were to start selling merchandise with your beautiful face on. would that be cool? Do I need your permission to use your photos?


06/18/2014 09:05 pm

So you entirely miss the point and fail to realize that building a brand and fostering a user base is one of the most important things you can do to do well organically (assuming you are following the guidelines set out by a given search engine, which are all basically the same); that being well represented in search for the long term requires you to achieve elsewhere as well. Got it.


06/18/2014 09:07 pm

Can the t-shirt caption say "Durant calls you a guideline breaking web spammer!" If you photograph him in public you are probably good in some states... He could be considered a famous person... after all he does have a travel blog.


06/18/2014 09:08 pm

If you think the alternatives I discussed aren't an important part of establishing yourself in relevant search then there really isn't a conversation to be had. Do it your way, I wish you luck. I won't sit here and spell out how each 'non-search' point I listed relates to your organic search performance. Some are more tangential than the others, but they are all important and much more effective than opining for the 'good ol' days'.


06/18/2014 09:09 pm

I am a big guy in real life, but just as inconsequential as I am online.


06/18/2014 09:19 pm

Never said that other channels aren't important. You said Google's not a monopoly in Organic Search and then continued to call my views disinformation... Nobody wants you to spell out your non-SEO list... it was never on topic to begin with.


06/18/2014 09:41 pm

I didn't miss the point. The point was to name a realistic alternative to Google in ORGANIC SEARCH... whatever...

Yo Mamma

06/18/2014 09:43 pm

Ethalon stated this "I have plenty of issues with Google" Okay, what 'issues' do you have with G$$GLE???? You know mine, do you share similar? Lets see.... The G$$GLE uncool commandments: 1. Since G$$GLE sold out to advertisers and PPC, its dropped in quality of search 2. G$$GLE ass, ooops glass is a spy camera to be used by people to spy on other people 3. G$$GLE violates copyright laws copying millions of hard-copy books. 4. G$$GLE promotes porn, child porn and allows for the conveyance of child porn 5. G$$GLE has as a business partner AMAZON. Both are trying to dominate internet sales in competition with EBAY and others. 6. G$$GLE has promoted its YOUTUBE and demoted all other video sites 7. G$$GLE doesn't remove old and irrelevant information from its searches willingly. ONLY in EUROPE G$$GLE is now forced to do this. 8. G$$GLE hasn't come up with a single good idea itself. The good ideas it had, it purchased from others. The talking shoe, the driver-less car and so on. Seriously??? Oh, lets not forget AMAZONS idea for drones delivering packages. Hairbrain 9. G$$GLE is simply uncool. Uncool and has no, yes NO, customer service. 10. G$$GLE hires predominately white, male, nerds. It also showed a watermelon as a race track and a black athlete in the Olympic doodles. That makes G$$GLE racist. Yes, two rich white boys with no specific religion can be racist. Because I don't want G$$GLE to be somewhat atatched to the 10 commandments I will add ... 11. G$$GLE used its email service to scan for users preferences and sell advertising. They thought that was cool. To spy on your emails. No G$$GLE, that was not cool and its illegal.

Yo Mamma

06/18/2014 09:46 pm

You are small, very small This is why you defend something big like G$$GLE You think (in ur head) it makes you big It doesn't


06/19/2014 01:00 am

The big news is NOT that Matt Cutts gives big brands special attention (because we've already known that) nor is it that Microsoft is doing cheap marketing (we've known that, too). The real news is that Microsoft is so afraid of Google that it takes them only a few hours to suspend a marketing plan just because Matt Cutts wants to "talk".


06/19/2014 01:46 am

Shouldn't you complain about Yahoo and Bing considering the fact that Google is treating you much better than the others?

Grow-Fresh GreenHouses

06/19/2014 05:00 am

Not Good.

Fede Einhorn

06/19/2014 05:50 am

"bad rAp"? :)

Soni Sharma

06/19/2014 05:56 am

I don't think IE is involved in paid link activities, User searches for IE itself and it doesn't need any paid link to get traffic and rank. IE 11 is faster and Bing also improved a lot. There should be healthy competition between Bing and Google, IE and Chrome and that's the way end users will get the Best ... :)

F1 Steve

06/19/2014 07:37 am

I was thinking of the CAPTION "No you can’t have a reconsideration request" or "Come visit my shoddy affiliate website for visitors"!

Luana Spinetti

06/19/2014 12:37 pm

Well, sounds like they really cared about Google's and Bing's SERPs, then. I wonder why... if the sponsored post campaign was to bring back IE's reputation among users, why care about placement in search engines? Would still work via social shares and word of mouth. Since the nofollow was not used, my first thought was that search engines meant nothing for this campaign. But the fact that it was suspended makes me wonder...


06/19/2014 07:42 pm

No. Because it is Google who is being the penalty doling douche bag. Google is not treating me better they are in fact treating me much much worse. Organic revenue is less than 8% of my total... Thankfully there are other channels that aren't being oppressed by a Monopoly's self-interest.


06/19/2014 08:44 pm

Didn't you say that Yahoo and Bing sends you 2% and 8% of your organic traffic. Considering the fact that both have a cumulative market share of 30% it's quite surprising how little they give you. So again, shouldn't you complain about Bing/Yahoo and praise Google?


06/23/2014 05:26 am

All of this just MIGHT be a good example of "Negative Marketing Techniques that lead your Brand Awareness in a positive way" :-P

Jitendra Vaswani

06/23/2014 06:49 am

I dont think people uses IE much, they have improved but still lags in most of teh cases,

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