Google has created quite a stir with what appears to be a sponsored blog posts campaign over the holidays — a campaign that may have led Google to gain inbound links as part of the paid blog posts. And, if that’s what happened, it raises the possibility that Google might have to ban itself for violating its own guidelines against paid links.
Danny Sullivan’s article on Search Engine Land, Google’s Jaw-Dropping Sponsored Post Campaign For Chrome, has the details about a campaign that seems to have led to hundreds of blog posts in late December (many from “mommy blog” sites) that are supposed to tout Google’s Chrome web browser (and other Google products and services) as something beneficial for small businesses. Although the quality and content of the blog posts varies, they all include a one-minute video of a Google commercial for Chrome along with this boilerplate copy:
Google Chrome helped this small business in Vermont go global. What can Google Chrome do for your future?
Even though each of the blog posts carries a visible disclaimer identifying the article as “sponsored by Google Chrome,” some of them include followed links to the Google Chrome website — and, in Google’s eyes, followed links in paid blog posts are a big no-no. Major brands like JC Penney, Forbes and Overstock.com have been penalized for violating Google’s policy on paid links.
That begs the question: Will Google penalize itself if, indeed, this sponsored blog posts campaign came from its own marketing department and violates its webmaster guidelines? It wouldn’t be the first time; Google has penalized itself at least a couple times in the past for breaking its own anti-spam rules.
See the Search Engine Land article for more details on those cases, along with a deeper look at the current episode involving Google’s sponsored blog post campaign.