On Tuesday, we reported that Google's marketing firm, Unruly, was caught violating Google's own policy in a campaign paying bloggers to write about Google Chrome for small businesses. Now, Google is penalizing itself as it would other violators for the mistake.
The mistake was that in at least one post a link was present without a "nofollow" attribute, which is used to make sure search results don't favor paid advertising. Unruly's CEO said that not including "nofollow" was a technical mistake that was remedied when the firm found out.
Search Engine Land (via CNET) reports that Google has now "demoted" Chrome in its search results, even though the company doesn't believe any violations occurred. Search Engine Land has more from Google's response:
We’ve investigated and are taking manual action to demote www.google.com/chrome 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.
Search Engine Land goes on to note that before Google took this action, searching the word "browser" on its site resulted in Chrome weighing in at number two in search results. Now, it comes in at 50 on the fifth page of search results.
Search Engine Land also notes that even Googling "Google Chrome" will provide a download link for Chrome as the top search result with information about the browser as a sub-link instead.
Yesterday, we reported that Google has taken similar action against previous violators of its policy for paid links such as JC Penny, Forbes and Overstock.com. In terms of penalizing itself, we included that Search Engine Land reported in a previous article that Google had banned BeatThatQuote, a Google company, and "reduced [Google Japan's] ability to rank for 11 months], due to similar violations.