Last week, Google was forced to swallow some pride as it issued a penalty against Google Japan. We all know that Google is strongly against paid links, so it was surprising when Google Japan was recently found out for buying blog posts as part of a promotional campaign for a new service.
Asiajin says, “These articles, which look almost the same as regular ones, have ‘ad’ tags which are very subtle, and will no doubt not be noticed by many readers.” The post also said, “So they are now link-building using monetary incentives to try to crook their own search results in a malicious way.” (Correction: I misinterpreted Akky Akimoto. The ‘ad’ tags are actually referring to article-type advertisements on the news website Gigazine.)
Google issued an apology that reads:
“Google Japan is running several promotional activities to let people know more about our products.
It turns out that using blogs on the part of the promotional activities violates Google’s search guidelines, so we have ended the promotion. We would like to apologize to the people concerned and to our users, and are making an effort to make our communications more transparent in order to prevent the recurrence of such an incident.”
Matt Cutts twittered “Google.co.jp PageRank is now ~5 instead of ~9. I expect that to remain for a while.” He expresses Google’s deep remorse and apologizes on the company’s behalf in this video.
Speaking on his own feelings, Matt says he was “mortified” when he heard about the incident. He goes on to say that Google’s position on paid links has not changed.
To correct the issue, Google is asking the bloggers to remove their paid posts. Matt also says Google realizes its need to continue to communicate and explain its position on paid links.
“This is something that we should have done better and I hope we will do better in the future.”
Keep watching WebProNews for the full interview with Matt Cutts including top security issues of this year and the latest on Google’s personalized search efforts.