Should Google Ban Itself for Paid Link Violation?

Google’s recent online ad campaign for its Chrome browser appears to violate its own policy around buying links that might affect a company’s rank in Google’s search results. Google blames its agency, the aptly-named Unruly Media.

From Search Engine Land:

The arrow points to a link leading to the Google Chrome download page. This is a straight link, not blocked with nofollow. It only appears in this post because the post is part of a sponsored campaign by Google, as noted at the bottom of the page. Therefore, both the author and Google itself are in violation of Google’s guidelines and risk being banned by Google….

Paid links drew much attention last year, after Google penalized JC Penney, as well as Forbes and Overstock for using them. Google even banned BeatThatQuote, one of its own companies last year over the issue. In 2009, Google penalized Google Japan for its own search results for the same issue, not removing it but reducing its ability to rank for 11 months.

Potentially, all this means that Google will have to ban the Google Chrome download page over paid links. That would suck for Google, since it’s busy running ads for Google Chrome, which will in turn prompt people to search for it. Right now, the page appears at the top of results for searches on google chrome….

Ouch.

UPDATE 3:26pm 1/3/2011. From All Things D:

Google, which says it had no idea it was paying bloggers to promote its Chrome browser, is punishing itself for doing so. The search giant tells Danny Sullivan it will penalize the “pagerank” of www.google.com/chrome for “at least 60 days.”

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