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Google Sponsored Post POV


Google has recently been driving its browser product Chrome to a mass audience. They have achieved this by using an agency to get large amounts of reach though video advertising; however as part of this campaign it became apparent that as part of their video advertising, the agency that Google were using were purchasing large numbers of blog posts to improve their social visibility.

A side effect of this was that they were getting large numbers of links pointing back to the Chrome webpage that hadn’t been NOFOLLOW’d (a practice which removes the SEO link equity of the link). An example can be seen below:

According to the Google Webmaster Guidelines purchasing sponsored posts confuses its understanding of links, violates the guidelines and will in turn incur a penalty.

A week after the blog posts went live they were discovered by Search Engine Land and highlighted in a series of blog posts:

The result was that Google had to apologise, and add a manual penalty to the Chrome page, resulting in a ranking decrease across a number of key browser related terms, e.g. “browser”:

They are now no longer ranking for this term, which will have had a massive traffic and financial impact on their business.

Google made the following statement:

“Google never agreed to anything more than online ads. We have consistently avoided paid sponsorships, including paying bloggers to promote our products, because these kind of promotions are not transparent or in the best interests of users. We’re now looking at what changes we need to make to ensure that this never happens again.”

What can we learn from this?

It’s clear from that that Google is very unforgiving about paid link to such an extent that it’s punished even its own website but there are some clear learnings about what we can do to ensure that this doesn’t happen to us.

  1. 1. Non-paid placements – it’s clear that paying for placements in blogs is something that Google doesn’t value and will look to penalise if found. We need to make sure that no sponsored posts are made.


  1. 2. Move away from branded content – Part of the issues was that the content provided was low quality highly branded content. Branded content doesn’t typically add value to the reader or website owner and is hard to place. This means brands have to rely on paying for placements. By creating content that bloggers and their readers will be interested in, we can achieve link placements without paying for them.


  1. 3. Link worthiness important – Another key element here is to ensure that you use good quality content on your site that will naturally generate large numbers of links. By using a mixed pull and push methodology to link building your link profile will look more natural and rankings will improve faster.  


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