Published January 4th, 2012
To say that Aaron Wall of SEO Book has a personal vendetta against the behemoth search engine company, Google, is an understatement. Over the years, he has blogged and spoken with the passion of a man that is trying to get children out of coalmines about how Google doesn’t follow its own rules, favors big corporations, and is just basically not following its own mantra of, “Do no harm.”
So, when Aaron discovered a bunch of paid links for Google’s browser, Chrome, with the ad copy of “This post is sponsored by Google” on more than 400 pages, he must have thought he had found the golden fleece. Aaron blogged about it, so Danny Sullivan over at Search Engine Land and a bunch of other search news sites picked it up as news.
Google told the BBC that it had never commissioned Essence Digital to approach bloggers and place sponsored links.
In its own statement, Essence Digital said: “Google never approved a sponsored-post campaign. They only agreed to buy online video ads. Google have consistently avoided paid postings to promote their products, because in their view these kind of promotions are not transparent or in the best interests of users.
“We apologise to Google who clearly didn’t authorise this.”
I don’t blame Danny Sullivan or Search Engine Land for the story and I can’t be too angry about the SEO Book posting for this kind of thing; both publications did actually catch Google doing something that they shouldn’t have been doing, and it’s pretty damn juicy to catch somebody doing something that they tell other people not to do (hell, it’s a stalwart of any political reporting these days) .
I think where I get a bit perturbed is how quickly everybody went to press without a statement from Google.
Back in the old days of the press, if you didn’t have a source in place for something like this, you didn’t run the story. I’m pretty sure everybody has seen “All The President’s Men” at this point in your life if you’re going to get into the writing game, but clearly some of the finer points are lost on the bloggers of the world.
When it turns out that Google never authorized the purchase of paid links (which if you use your head, why would they want or need to in the first place?), the first thing out of all the search engine blogs should be, “we’re sorry for blaming you directly,” but I doubt that will ever happen.
Look, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m not naive, I know that big corporations do a lot of evil in this world. In fact, I’m usually the first one to say it because people usually love to blame the government or some other organization for a lot of the bad stuff that goes down in America. However, let’s try and not just blame Google for all the evil in the search engine marketing game. This was sloppy work on both Google and Essence’s part, but why does everybody always have to go for the evil conclusion?
Sure, they’re a big company now, but despite what you may think, they are not run by robots or super humans. Google is made up of good old fashioned regular humans, who eff things up on a regular basis. In this case, Google outsourced some work to another company of humans, who clearly have even lower standards for workmanship, and are most likely done as a company now because they just screwed up with the wrong client.
I know it won’t happen, but the bloggers and online news organizations of the world need to learn to take a breath before jumping on stuff like this. Just like when it turned out that CarrierIQ wasn’t really keystroke tracking your every move, Google wasn’t really buying links… a company it hired was.
I know it’s a subtle detail and it’s not as much fun to report on, but trust me, I’m sure Google is doing plenty of other evil stuff you can call them on this year, so pace yourself.
- Google Caught Buying Paid Links Again (seroundtable.com)
- Uh oh, Google may be in trouble for fishy Chrome sponsored post campaign (venturebeat.com)
- OOPS! GOOGLE runs afoul of own rules on searches… (guardian.co.uk)
- Google Violated Its Own Evil-Free Policies While Promoting Chrome (gizmodo.com.au)