Google breaks its own rules

AFP Photo / Kimihiro Hoshino
Google is getting into some hot water after some stealthy bloggers caught the search engine giants breaking their own rules.

An online ad campaigned launched by Google to promote its own products, specifically the Chrome web browser, has been revealed to using shortcuts to skip rules that the company itself put in place in order to keep search engines fair in returning their results.

According to Google’s own rules on paid links, “Buying and selling links is a normal part of the economy of the Web when done for advertising purposes, and not for manipulation of search results.” In order to keep the Web operating justly then, Google proposes coding to be added to websites that keep paid links from landing within the regulations set forth in their guidelines. Google, however, is dismissing those guidelines themselves.

In the past, Google has gone after other parties that have violated the rule and warn that in order for them to be reconsidered in Web searches, “sites that directly profit from traffic (e.g. search engine optimizers, affiliate programs, etc.) may need to provide more evidence of good faith before a site will be reconsidered.”

So does that leave the governor to do their own governing? In the past, the search engine has escaped penalties even from the Securities and Exchange Commission for violating federal law, so Google will most likely give themselves just a slap on the wrist — if that — for this mistake.

Since blogs began breaking the news of Google’s online trickery, the backlash has begun and the company itself has tried to distance itself from any wrongdoing. "Google never agreed to anything more than online ads," a company spokesperson said in an emailed statement to the Information Week website. "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."

Essence Digital, a marketing company that helped create promos for Google, also sided with the web giants and writes in a statement, "We apologize to Google who clearly didn't authorize this."

That lends to the question of who did give the program the goahead? The ads in question are lengthy diatribe that return in search queries for aiding small businesses, but rather than provide actual info, instead ramble for paragraphs before mentioning Google’s Chrome browser at the end. adds that at least one post in question has since disappeared, although a search for “This post is sponsored by Google,” the mis-coded promo that breaks the rules, returns over 400 results when queried.