Google was the object of ridicule among many SEO professionals last week, when the search giant penalised its own subsidiary for buying links.
Yahoo! is the current search leader in Japan. Google Japan started featuring “Hot Keywords” on their homepage last month. This was done with the intention of guiding users to other related sites such as Google Maps, Google News, Gmail and YouTube, which they hoped would improve the user experience and get more users to access the site.
Akky Akimoto at the Asiajin blog reported last week that Google Japan hired Cyberbuzz, a company that specialises in online marketing to sponsor blog posts through a pay-per-post service to inform users about these new features and associated Google products.
Paying bloggers for links is against the policies of Google. Since Google Japan had to pay the online marketing company for the blog posts, they have broken one of their own company’s rules.
Google Japan has not only discontinued the services of Cyberbuzz, but has also issued an apology on the Google Japan blog, The translated post says:
“Google Japan is running several promotional activities to let people know more about our products. It turns out that using blogs on the part of the promotional activities violates Google’s search guidelines, so we have ended the promotion. We would like to apologise to the people concerned and to our users, and are making an effort to make our communications more transparent in order to prevent the recurrence of such an incident.”
The “Hot New Keywords” feature has also been removed since then and Matt Cutts confirmed that Google dropped the page rank of Google Japan from 9 to 5 and it will likely stay that way for a while!