Google penalizes itself in search rankings

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Part of Google's algorithm that orders search results is based on how many people link to a particular site. To prevent people from gaming the system to inflate their search ranking, Google prohibits websites from paying other sites to link to them. 

When sites violate Google's search policies, the company penalizes them by demoting their search ranking for a period of time.

Because the blogger was paid to link to the Chrome site, he inadvertently caused Google to violate its own search policies.

As a result, Google will demote Google.com/Chrome for at least 60 days.

"We strive to enforce Google’s webmaster guidelines consistently in order to provide better search results for users," a Google spokesman said in a statement. "While Google did not authorize this campaign, and we can find no remaining violations of our webmaster guidelines, we believe Google should be held to a higher standard, so we have taken stricter action than we would against a typical site."

The spokesman emphasized that Google never agreed to anything other than online ads.

"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," the spokesman said. "We’re now looking at what changes we need to make to ensure that this never happens again."

In a statement on the social network Google+, Essence Digital apologized to Google "who clearly didn’t authorize this."

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is currently investigating whether Google has violated federal antitrust law, and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt defended his company's business practices in testimony before the Senate Judiciary's antitrust subpanel in September.

Sens. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) have urged the FTC to take a hard look at whether Google has engaged in anticompetitive behavior by ranking its own services higher than those of its competitors.

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