Google blames agency for paid-search PR gaffe

A campaign to raise awareness for Google’s Web browser Chrome violated the search giant’s rules on paid links and advertorial content. Google acknowledges the mistake, but says it’s the fault of an agency.

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The campaign paid bloggers to write 400 or more posts labeled “sponsored by Google.” The posts tout Google Chrome’s ability to help small businesses, and at least one post helped boost Chrome’s search engine rankings. The stories, according to Sullivan, contain “mostly vapid” language.

Paying bloggers for links to help boost a brand’s search results is a no-no on Google—something about which the company’s search czar Matt Cutts has written. The blame for the campaign has fallen on an agency called Unruly.

Here’s how Google responded:

“Google never agreed to anything more 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. We’re now looking at what changes we need to make to ensure that this never happens again.”

Meanwhile, Essence Digital, the digital media company that Google contracted for the campaign, issued this statement (posted on SearchEnglineLand):

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