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Google demotes Chrome in search results over pay-for-post promo

Chrome is manually being pushed down in Google search results in the face of criticism of a Chrome promo on blog sites.

Google punishes Chrome in its search results over promo campaign on blog sites that seemed to encourage low-quality content.
Google punishes Chrome in its search results in response to a promo campaign on blog sites that seemed to encourage low-quality content. (Click to enlarge)

Google has demoted its Chrome home page in results for a search using the keyword "browser" following an effort to have bloggers promote the Google browser that backfired.

Now, there is no Chrome ad at the top of the results or link to the Chrome page anywhere on the first page of results on Google. It's ranked in position 50, according to Danny Sullivan of SearchEngineLand, which first reported this news.

Google's statement, according to SearchEngineLand, is:

"We've investigated and are taking manual action to demote and lower the site's PageRank for a period of at least 60 days. We strive to enforce Google's webmaster guidelines consistently in order to provide better search results for users.

While Google did not authorize this campaign, and we can find no remaining violations of our webmaster guidelines, we believe Google should be held to a higher standard, so we have taken stricter action than we would against a typical site."

The demotion is a response to a pay-for-post campaign run by London-based Unruly Media in which bloggers published low-quality content related to Google Chrome in an effort to promote a Google video about King Arthur Flour. At least one of the posts had a hyperlink to the Chrome download page, which can help a site rise in Google search results through Google's PageRank algorithm. But paying people to include such links violates Google's guidelines.

"So far, only one page in the sponsored post campaign has been spotted with a 'straight' link that passed credit to the Chrome page," Sullivan writes. "It's also unlikely that the campaign overall was designed to build links. But my impression is that Google's deciding to penalize itself anyway with a PR reduction, to be safe."