Aaron Wall of SEO Book has written a blog post about how a simple search for “This post is sponsored by Google” returns over 400 pages of results as part of a marketing campaign for the Google Chrome browser. This is surprising because Google has discouraged bloggers to be “influenced” to write about specific services or products. My guess is that Google hired a PR company to market Google Chrome and may not have been aware that these bloggers were being paid to promote Chrome.
In Google’s Webmaster Tools Help section about paid links, they have written about how “Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results.” However Google said that links purchased for advertising should be designated by adding a nofollow tag to the link.
Danny Sullivan pointed to a that was pointing directly to Google Chrome’s download page, but that article has been deleted now.
In the past Google penalized JC Penney, Forbes, Overstock, and BeatThatQuote for manipulating the Google PageRank algorithm. Google had also penalized Google Japan’s PageRank score for 11 months for reportedly buying blog posts in a promotional campaign.