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That is what they say, typically at the bottom of the posts, in blog posts that equate Google Chrome to being the Internet & spread misinformation about how Chrome is good for small business.
- some of those sites are paid posts and have live links in them to Google Chrome without using nofollow & talk about SEO in the same post as well!
- some of those posts link to the example businesses Google was paying to have covered
- and all the posts are effectively "buying YouTube video views" for this video youtube.com/watch?v=QFLP7HD1s7k
You can say they didn't require the links, that the links were incidental, that leaving nofollow off was an accident, etc. ... but does Google presume the same level of innocence when torching webmasters? They certainly did not to the bloggers who reviewed K-Mart & the Google reconsideration request form states:
“In general, 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.”
The Orwellian things about Google using the above strategy to market Chrome are:
- Google has a clear pro-corporate big brand bias to their algorithms & layout (Vince & Panda updates + the part near the top of the SERPs for some searches that says "brands" as a filter type).
- The more usage data Google collects the more stupid hoops it forces smaller businesses to jump through in order to compete, thereby further driving them under. (If small business owners didn't have enough time & resources for SEO, do they now also have time to get reviews, get local citations, deal with social stuff on Twitter + Facebook + Youtube + Google+ and a bit of SEO?)
- Google polices how small businesses can even make income online. When K-Mart paid some small business bloggers to do sponsored posts Matt Cutts wrote a post (mattcutts.com/blog/sponsored-conversations/) about how he torched those small bloggers (while doing nothing to K-Mart) & equated that exercise to selling links that promote bogus brain cancer solutions. Yet Google Japan was already dinged for this sort of paid post activity & now Google is doing the same thing again.
The fact that Google is paying to spread that sort of misinformation about how their browser is helping small businesses is sort of like BP buying ads about doing tourism in the gulf. Only since Google destroying smaller businesses is something more abstract on virtual lands the PR propaganda campaign is much more effective, because (unlike oil washing ashore) people do not see what is not there. (The birds still die, but the black oil covered carcass isn't rotting on the beach).
Should you follow Google & buy ads on these sites? Are they christened & beyond reproach? I would sort of be afraid to buy exposure on the blogs where Google is buying coverage...if that latent public relations disaster eventually blows up in their face, they may assume others are as guilty as Google is & burn down the whole forest.
Google the dictator meet Google the marketer. You guys are going to get on well together!
Update: Danny highlighted how Google's Chrome ad buy created a lot of the low-quality filler pablum content that the Panda update was alleged to discourage.