Google Caught Buying Paid Links Again

Jan 3, 2012 • 8:52 am | comments (20) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Chrome's Paid Link CampaignAaron Wall caught Google buying paid links and reported it yesterday. Danny Sullivan did a deep dive on this campaign, concluding the only purpose behind it was to get links to try to "influence rankings" of the search results.

As you all know, paid links in this fashion is against Google's terms of service.

So what happened?

We are not a 100% sure yet, nor do we have any statement from Google on this, but it appears that Google hired a marketing company to run a campaign to promote their browser, Google Chrome. One of the marketing company's, Danny Sullivan thinks it is Unruly, paid bloggers with a $40 Amazon gift certificate to write sponsored posts on Google Chrome.

The thing is, this campaign not only was about paid links in sponsored posts but also generated a tremendous amount of junk content indexed by Google. The same content Google is trying to get rid of with their search algorithms.

That being said, Danny and Aaron do an excellent job uncovering this case and picking it apart.

We still do not have any reason or explanation from Google. I suspect they will end up banning their Google Chrome page for the next month or few. Just like they did when Google penalized themselves for cloaking AdWords help, cloaking AdWords support and the Google Japan PageRank penalty.

The folks at WebmasterWorld are not surprised anymore. Google is huge and one hand doesn't communicate with the other, especially for third-party marketing companies. It will be interesting to see how Google responds to this.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Update: Here is a statement from Google:

Google never agreed to anything more than online ads. We have consistently avoided paid sponsorships, including paying bloggers to promote our products, because these kind of promotions are not transparent or in the best interests of users. We're now looking at what changes we need to make to ensure that this never happens again.

Previous story: Google AdSense Publishers Excited For 2012


Dave Colgate

01/03/2012 01:57 pm

Looking forward to seeing how this folds out ...


01/03/2012 02:07 pm

Now that is funny I don't care who you are made my day.

Sinisa Gavrilovic

01/03/2012 02:10 pm

oh no, not again :) somebody is going to get fired ... 

Ken Evoy

01/03/2012 02:29 pm

Every now and then, Google makes a mistake that reveals who it really is.  The most indicative, at least in my opinion, was when Google inserted "back to Google" links into all AdSense ads. The uproar over that link theft was so loud that Google reverted that rollout within hours. There's no way a company could pull off a decision and rollback that fast unless it was ready to do so in case of an uproar, which indicates a guilty conscience. It KNEW it was doing evil, but couldn't resist that massive free, unpaid-per-click theft, forcing everyone with AdSense to link back Google's engine from every AdSense ad on every site (billions of links?). If Google did no evil, it would have... a) offered this "click back" as an option in AdSense, and b) paid for clicks if that option was chosen by the individual. It was repulsive... and telling.  Google yanked that fast, saying they'd revisit this, trying to save as much face as possible. I've interpreted everything they do and say much more carefully ever since then. It's odd that no one has ever mentioned that again.  Google's "ready to rollback" PR strategy was very cleverly effective, it seems. This particular episode looks almost too dumb to be true. There are lots of ways to skate out of this, including finding a fall guy for the faux pas. Their reply here will be interesting. And clever, I'm sure.

Gex Inc.

01/03/2012 05:08 pm

Do what I say but don´t say what I do...

Karachi SEO

01/03/2012 05:57 pm

Bloggers will lose all rankings, that's all.

Roie S

01/03/2012 07:12 pm

And this is just one example where they got caught

Jaan Kanellis

01/03/2012 07:34 pm

What marketing company was it?  i find it highly unlikely that Google didn't know what they were getting.  Someone is getting chopped internally as well.


01/03/2012 10:58 pm

Tsk tsk, this is JC Penny all over again, except on their own product.

Jayden Smith

01/04/2012 01:07 am

Can't they just do a manual placement?

Jeff Downer Indianapolis IN

01/04/2012 02:18 am

Maybe they should have hired Ocean Marketing and that Christoforo fella instead.

Ravinder Katam

01/04/2012 01:03 pm

How to find paid links Google. I will buy link from top news portals

Dirty seagull

01/04/2012 02:40 pm

I love this so much, it is a Joke that they punish people for this 


01/04/2012 03:34 pm

Google = Hypocrites.... as simple as that

SEO Tahoe

01/04/2012 05:11 pm

Really I appreciate this step taken by Google.  I am searching in Google with "Browser" keyword and found that chrome site is not there till 3rd or 4th page.


01/05/2012 05:50 am

Just great way to showing their work to make people trust on them! May be i am ignoring the best part of google but i still say, "They just don't need to show it up as much as they are showing!" 

SEO Expert | SEO

01/05/2012 05:46 pm

Google got paid links?woh....i think they have to read their guide line first  :)


01/06/2012 12:56 pm

With all those employees and their cushy offices they couldn't find someone experienced enough to create some graphics and buy some ads space?  


02/08/2012 01:43 pm

"Don't do what I do, do what I say" , that's the feeling I'm getting from Google.

Sean - SEO Ireland

04/13/2012 10:42 pm

I've just stumbled across this post now. I can't believe they've lifted the bam after a measly two months!

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