A couple months ago there was a tremendous amount of commotion as Google was outed in what boiled down to a sponsored post campaign where more than 400 bloggers were paid to help build up backlinks to the Google Chrome browser download page.
I personally found the poll over at Search Engine Roundtable to be particularly interesting.
Earlier today Search Engine Land reported that the self-imposed penalization was lifted. Therefore, in theory, Google’s Chrome page should have been cleared of any wrong doing so that it could perform normally in the SERPs.
In other words, Google cleared up their problems and (expeditiously) lifted their self imposed penalty.
While that’s all well and good for Google today – I was curious to find out how the browser’s business may have been impacted. While not at all a surprise, this is what I learned:
- Google Chrome’s usage share continued to increase.
- Month to month growth in the market also increased.
- No one in Google’s targeted audience really #$%^&* noticed (or cared).
Short of a cyclic trend in growth (spikes followed by 4 months of declines) there’s really not that much substance here.
And that’s the big problem.
Google was all gung-ho on the penalization and Matt Cutts even weighed in from his vacation (on Google+ of course) to let us know that it was a serious issue, it was a legitimate offense and corrective actions were to be taken. They marched around trying to give off the impression that they’d treat Google the same as they would any other content publisher.
But the business impact just wasn’t there.
- Google didn’t lose downloads.
- Their domain wasn’t hurt.
- They didn’t lose users.
…They just kept on marching forward.
I understand that negative press can still be seen as “good press.” But in this case, there really wasn’t much mroe involved than smoke, mirrors, and a tongue-in-cheek reaction by Google.
In other words, I think the penalization was simply a load of BS. It was PR spin. It was damage control. It was, as we’ve all come to expect by now – unfair treatment by Google that benefited the biggest of Internet brands.
I have worked with countless clients penalized for any number of things from these same types of paid links, on down to aggressive on page content, duplicate content issues, etc. etc. When real penalties are in place, business suffers. Jobs are lost. Paychecks aren’t cut.
…And do you know what happens when you’d call attention to fixing the situation?
Reinclusion requests, historically speaking, produce little to no results.
I won’t continue to beat this horse dead, but I would love to hear more about how this may have impacted Google’s Chrome business beyond what’s publicly available. I’m sure any response will be canned, forced, peer reviewed by a dozen Googlers and directed only at the most high level issues.
But seriously guys… Quit the dog and pony act. You’re not one of us. You never were. You never will be.