It’s no secret that Google detests paid links and paid blog reviews as they mess with G’s algorithm by skewing rankings. But what if one of its own properties engaged in those practices?
Google actively penalizes (or dampens) the rankings of sites that engage in offering paid links for the express purposes of passing PageRank and also of sites that buy inbound links en masse. Their move really put a dampener on the paid link industry, but it’s an understandable approach, otherwise the top slots for competitive terms would be taken up with companies with cash to burn for buying links.
This isn’t anything new, Google started targeting paid links and paid blog reviews way back in November 2006. Google hates paid links so much, it even offers a form in Webmaster Tools encouraging users to dob people in.
In a somewhat embarrassing turn of events for the company, it seems that Google Japan reportedly paid bloggers to review one of its own services, which lead to an abundance of posts with similar content – and inbound links.
When it was discovered, Google issued an apology and ended the campaign. According to Matt Cutts, Google software engineer extraordinare, Google.co.jp was penalized for paying for the blogger reviews and had its PageRank dropped from 9 to 5.
Nice to see Google walking the talk when it comes to its own webmaster guidelines; but it also serves as a reminder that site owners need to be careful how they sell links and how they buy them. A more paranoid person might also suggest that Google.co.jp was a sacrificial lamb in order to drive home their point on paid links and blog reviews :).