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Google Slaps Its Own Wrist Over Chrome Pay-For-Blogging Flap

Google is "downgrading the search result ranking of the company's own Web browser, Google Chrome, for 60 days," as PC World reports, because some bloggers ending up being paid to mention Chrome during a recent ad campaign.

Doing that violates Google's "own rules governing paid promotions," Bloomberg News notes, which aim to prohibit the gaming of search results.

So what happened?

According to PC World:

"Google reportedly bought online video ads from a digital media agency called Essence Digital. Essence then reportedly hired another company called Unruly to carry out Google's video ad campaign, according to Search Engine Land. The end result was that a number of blogs wrote positive posts (with the video embedded) about Google Chrome for compensation--the reward was apparently Amazon gift cards, SEL said in a separate report."

Google says it only agreed to buy ads, not to pay any bloggers to mention Chrome.

As Slate says:

"The punishment imposed on Chrome will significantly lower the results ranking of the main download page for the browser. Google regularly punishes sites who violate the company's quality guidelines in order to get a favorable treatment from their search analysis algorithm, PageRank. The practice of gaming the rankings is often referred to as Black Hat SEO, and it's something Google has publicly worked hard to combat."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.