Google may be getting itself into hot water again with paid links. In 2012, Google Chrome was caught buying links and they ended up penalizing themselves for it. It wasn't the first time, Google penalized themselves in the past for cloaking AdWords help, cloaking AdWords support and the Google Japan PageRank penalty.
But is Google going to have to penalize themselves again?
Tadeusz Szewczyk posted on Twitter that Google paid $350,000 or so to buy an image link for Google Chrome on the Let's Encrypt sponsors page. Google is a big backer of encryption and there is no doubt they are supporting this cause. But as you can see, platinum sponsorship is $350,000.
Here is a picture of the logo:
Here is a picture of the source code, showing the link without a nofollow:
Of course, we know Google's intent here is not to manipulate their search engine. They simply are sponsoring this encryption cause. But Google has to be extra careful when doing paid sponsorships to make sure their links are nofollowed, in order to set the standard super high where there are no double standards.
Do you think Google is wrong here and should be penalized?
Forum discussion at Twitter.
Update: A nofollow attribute was added to the link within 24 hours of posting this blog post.