Google Japan Busted For Paid Links
Go ahead and laugh, because it is funny. Google Japan’s probably too embarrassed too laugh, though, and someone somewhere is likely to resemble the spittle-drenched apologist from the movie Gung Ho.
Google Japan, according to its apology, was apparently unaware of the company’s own terms of service. Paying a Japanese pay-per-post promotion company to pimp its new Hot Keywords blog widget caused the website to be busted down from PR 9 to PR 5.
Many thanks goes out to blogger Akky Akimoto for discovery and English translation of what might described as a big, corporate party foul. When searching for (in Japanese) Google Hot Keywords Ranking + “Blog Widget” + “CyberBuzz,” Akimoto found over 30 posts writing about the widget, all of them acknowledging being paid by CyberBuzz.
Akimoto says CyberBuzz pays pretty handsomely for blog posts—up to $100 per post. Small ads were present at the bottom as well.
The apology issued from Google Japan is priceless since it suggests Google Japan is just now learning of Google’s search guidelines:
“Google Japan is running several promotional activities to let people know more about our products.
“It turns out that using blogs on the part of the promotional activities violates Google’s search guidelines, so we have ended the promotion. We would like to apologize to the people concerned and to our users, and are making an effort to make our communications more transparent in order to prevent the recurrence of such an incident.”
Hopefully no form of seppuku will be required and a simple gomenasai (or, if you’re a real Samurai: katajiganai on all fours with head bowed low) and Matt Cutts tweeted policy of treating all sites the same will suffice. Cutts tweets that he expects Google Japan’s new PR5 to remain as is for a while.