Back at the beginning of January, Aaron Wall, from SEOBook, found a few examples of a series of advertorials for Google products such as AdWords, Analytics and Chromebooks. These advertorials were “brought to you buy” and “sponsored by” Google. Within the content were some highly questionable links.
Wall stated, “None of those links in the content use nofollow, in spite of many of them having Google Analytics tracking URLs on them. Why doesn’t Google police themselves when they are policing others? If their algorithmic ideals are true, shouldn’t they apply to Google as well?”
Now, Google has penalized itself in the past for doing something very similar with Chrome but why isn’t Google catching this stuff on its own? It seems the only reason Google penalized itself this time is because Wall pointed this out. Are there other articles/content etc out there which Google has published that others have not noticed yet?
Back at the beginning of February, Google penalized a UK flower website for having paid links and also punished the newspaper sites who published the advertorials. Matt Cutts even wrote a post saying, “Please be wary if someone approaches you and wants to pay you for links or ‘advertorial’ pages on your site that pass PageRank. Selling links (or entire advertorial pages with embedded links) that pass PageRank violates our quality guidelines, and Google does take action on such violations.”
How did this penalty effect Google? In the long run it wont. Google is too big, runs their own show and can basically make the rules. They did penalize themselves but a 60 day penalty for Google is nothing. If a self storage owner were caught doing something similar and had to incur a 60 day penalty as well as work their way back up in the algorithm, it could be detrimental to business. If said storage owner were a repeat offender as Google is, Google could remove the website from the Search Engine if it decided to.
There is a double edged sword of playing the game with Google. In many ways website owners need Google in order to keep their doors open, yet many can’t stand the way Google operates its SERP’s and its lack of transparency.