Google exec comments on the sponsored Chrome campaign and the finger pointing continues

chrome oopsEarlier this week, Google came under fire for a pay-per-post campaign promoting its Chrome browser. In addition to being hypocritical (Google has made a lot of noise about punishing this type of spammy, page boosting, “thin” content), one sponsored blog post in particular failed to follow Google’s “nofollow” hyperlinking rule.

Google dutifully dropped Chrome’s page rank for the next 60 days and in a company statement explained that given its position, the company needs to hold itself to a higher standard.

matt cuttsMatt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team, has also commented on the incident and given us some background on what exactly happened. “Google was trying to buy video ads about Chrome, and these sponsored posts were an inadvertent results of that,” he says via Google+. “If you investigated the two dozen or so sponsored posts (as the webspam team immediately did), the posts typically showed a Google Chrome video but didn’t actually link to Google Chrome. We double-checked, and the video players weren’t flowing PageRank to Google either.”

Cutts says there was one exception, however, in which a blogger failed to make a link to Chrome “nofollow” and as a result Google has demoted Chrome’s page rank.

Of course it’s not just the fact that one of these paid-for-posts was unwittingly giving Chrome an SEO boost. Google is also taking heat for creating the very type of Web content it tries to bury. According to Cutts, the campaign’s intention was purely “to get people to watch videos—not link to Google.”

One company hired to produce the video ads, Essence Digital, cops to Google’s innocence in the entire situation. “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 kinds of promotions are transparent or are not in the best interests of users,” the company said in a statement. “In this case, Google were subjected to this activity through media that encouraged bloggers to create what appeared to be paid posts, were often of poor quality and out of line with Google standards. We apologize to Google who clearly didn’t authorize this.” 

There’s been a lot of finger pointing in this debacle, with most of the blame falling squarely on the shoulders of the unnamed blogger who failed to use the “nofollow” attribute. But it’s all fairly simple: Google says it doesn’t engage with pay-per-post advertising, but it hired a couple of companies (including Unruly Media) which do precisely that. Unruly Media has explained that while it doesn’t tell its writers what to write, it does pay them for it. Still, for all the blame-shifting going on here, at least Google is demoting itself a bit, even if it’s just to appease us all. 


First phone specs reveal premium is the path for Vivo spinoff Iqoo

A new smartphone brand has launched. It's called Iqoo, and it's a sub-brand of Vivo, the Chinese device manufacturer owned by BBK Electronics. Excitingly, details about its first phone are slowly being released.

Chrome is a fantastic browser, but is is still the best among new competitors?

Choosing a web browser for surfing the web can be tough with all the great options available. Here we pit the latest versions of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Edge, and Vivaldi against one another to find the best browsers for most users.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to 'Roma'

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.

Google Chrome’s Progressive Web Apps will soon play nicer with Windows 10

Google is adding a capability to the Chrome browser in an upcoming release that will integrate its Progressive Web Apps with notification badges in the system taskbar in Windows 10.

Make a GIF of your favorite YouTube video with these great tools

Making a GIF from a YouTube video is easier today than ever, but choosing the right tool for the job isn't always so simple. In this guide, we'll teach you how to make a GIF from a YouTube video with our two favorite online tools.

Lose the key for your favorite software? These handy tools can find it for you

Missing product keys getting you down? We've chosen some of the best software license and product key finders in existence, so you can locate and document your precious keys on your Windows or MacOS machine.
Social Media

Instagram test reveals direct messages may be coming to browsers

Instagram for the web has always been a minimalist affair compared to the feature-rich smartphone app, but in the last few years that's started to change. The latest news is that Instagram is considering adding direct messages.

From beautiful to downright weird, check out these great dual-monitor wallpapers

Multitasking with two monitors doesn't necessarily mean you need to split your screens with two separate wallpapers. From beautiful to downright weird, here are our top sites for finding the best dual-monitor wallpapers for you.

Miss Flash? It's not dead yet. Here's how to enable it in Chrome

Want to know how to enable Flash in Chrome? You need to jump through a couple of hoops but it's far from difficult. Just visit your favorite Flash site and follow these instructions and you'll be enjoying Flash content in no time.

Breaking: Amazon won’t build headquarters in New York in face of opposition

Amazon has canceled plans for a New York City headquarters afer citizens, civic groups, and politicians pushed back on Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's exclamation of economic joy over Amazon's earlier…

Are you one of the billions who have watched these super-popular YouTube videos?

Viral videos can quickly garner millions upon millions of views, but even they fall well behind the view counts on the most watched YouTube videos ever. Those have been watched billions of times.

Marriott asking guests for data to see if they were victims of the Starwood hack

Marriott has created an online form to help you find out if your data was stolen in the massive Starwood hack that came to light toward the end of 2018. But take note, it requires you to submit a bunch of personal details.

New Chrome feature aimed at preventing websites from blocking Incognito Mode

A new Chrome feature will prevent websites from blocking Chrome users as they browse using Incognito Mode. The feature is supposed to fix a known loophole that allows websites to detect and block those using Incognito Mode.

Reluctant to give your email address away? Here's how to make a disposable one

Want to sign up for a service without the risk of flooding your inbox with copious amounts of spam and unwanted email? You might want to consider using disposable email addresses via one of these handy services.