Speaking of Danny Sullivan, it also looks like he (and SEO Book) uncovered one hell of a shady situation involving Google, SEO, and paid posts today. Google has neither confirmed nor denied the situation yet, but as you can see in the back-and-forth between Sullivan and I here, it doesn’t look good. At all.
Long story short: it looks like Google is directly or indirectly involved in a paid post scheme to get people with good PageRank to write reviews about Google Chrome. The reviews don’t have to be positive, but that doesn’t matter. This isn’t about the review content, it’s all about SEO.
If true, Google should be banning links to Google Chrome’s download page for a year or so, per their enforcement of previous violations of this nature by third-parties. Will that happen? Probably not. Which is shameful. Instead, the buck will likely be passed and excuses will be made.
One key point I tried to make during “Fingergate” was the following:
We’re seeing some of the problems with Google’s expansion to do everything on the web. Some of their policies in certain places seem to directly contradict their policies elsewhere. And there’s no easy solution. As a result, these types of debates will continue.
This looks like another such situation. I have to believe Google isn’t trying to be evil here, I simply think they have certain divisions tasked with getting certain results (Chrome downloads, in this case). They probably don’t even realize their methods are in direct opposition to the Google Search protocols. In other words, they’re sloppy.
But that’s no excuse. If this evidence is legitimate, Chrome links should be banned.
All of this also calls into question my praise of Google Chrome. I like the browser a lot, but if this type of shit is boosting download numbers, then shame on Google.