Do a Google search for “browser,” and Google Chrome no longer appears on the first page of results. In fact, as of the time of this writing, I’m seeing a hit for Chrome appear on the seventh page of results. Has Chrome suddenly become less relevant? Nope. Instead, Google has penalized Google Chrome for a violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines involving paid links. Google requires all paid links to use the nofollow attribute, so that the link doesn’t pass “Google juice” via Google’s search ranking algorithm. A sponsored post for Chrome appeared on a blog, and did not use the nofollow attribute. The demotion followed.
The interesting fact about this demotion is that, according to Google, Google didn’t authorize the campaign. I’m not sure what to make of this. On one hand, should we applaud Google for its statement that “Google should be held to a higher standard, so we have taken stricter action than we would against a typical site.” Or should we be worried that innocent sites could get nailed for something over which they have no control?
For me, the bigger concern is a simple one – how is a simple blogger supposed to know all this stuff? How many of you even knew what the nofollow attribute was? Back when 40Tech was started, I sure didn’t (to be fair, we did learn about Google’s “nofollow” requirements a while back, before this story broke, and started enforcing it, but it took a couple of years). Back then, I thought that being very transparent about what was a sponsored post or paid link (and marking such content explicitly, as we still do) would be enough. Evidently, though, Google’s bots, while seemingly capable of reading our minds, don’t understand that sort of explicit language, and require some HTML code.
I’d love to hear your take. Is this an admirable step on Google’s part, or does this really not matter much, and Google is just trying to save face? What are your thoughts as to how this applies to the average blogger?
Google’s Chrome Page No Longer Ranks For “Browser” After Sponsored Post Penalty [Search Engine Land]