Google gives itself search ranking penalty after sponsored blog controversy
Experts say the case highlights how difficult it is for other companies to understand and abide by the guidelines.
Whereas a Google search for "browser" would likely lead readers directly to Chrome, its ranking has now slumped following a report by Search Engine Land that claimed Google had gone against its own rules by using paid content and "thin" or "garbage" content (unrelated material) to skew the search engine ranking of the Chrome browser.
Google has previously encouraged readers to use the "no follow" attribute to prevent the people who use sponsored blog posts from benefitting from the practice and influencing Google's search algorithm.
Google issued a statement saying it had investigated the matter and was "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 authorise 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 have against a typical site."
Jim Stewart, of Stewart Media, said it was probably a case of one hand not knowing what the other was doing, with Google's marketing team sponsoring bloggers to write positive content about Chrome as a marketing ploy, rather than an attempt to artificially inflate its rankings.
"What they've done is taken out the effect of what the backlinks would have given them," Stewart says.
Stewart doesn't believe it's a major drama.
"I think it's a bit of 'Oops, why did this happen?' The main issue is they violated their own guidelines, which tells you how difficult it is for other people to do it around the world."
Despite evidence that there are many webpages containing the sentence "This is a sponsored past from Google Chrome", the search engine giant has said that it has "consistently avoided paid sponsorships, including paying bloggers to promote our products".