Google has punished itself for 60 days by lowering the PageRank of Google Chrome's homepage and lowering it in search results after a marketing mistake resulted in paid links.

Google announced on Tuesday that the homepage for its Chrome web browser will be punished for 60 days after an advertising campaign for the browser was mishandled by Google and the companies it contracted. The company got links which, in at least one case, it technically (albeit unintentionally) paid for, which violates its consistent cry that organic link building via quality content marketing is key to SEO success.

Google used a marketing firm (which Search Engine Land identifies as Unruly) for its campaign. Bloggers for the company produced a series of posts touting Google Chrome that included videos with Google’s current slogan, “The Web is What You Make of It.” However, some of these sponsored blog posts also included links back to Chrome’s home page, and Matt Cutts admits there was at least one instance of a link passing PageRank to Google Chrome’s homepage.

As Cutts points out, this violates Google’s SEO quality guidelines. Punishing itself is certainly a clear reminder of Google’s position when it comes to link building. Other businesses looking to develop content to boost their search standing should cite this as a need for high-quality web content that will attract merit-based links – if Google will punish itself, the company will do the same to other sites.

Google’s Matt Cutts has been adamant in his Webmaster Help videos in saying that websites need to be more focused with the overall quality of their content than any other techniques. Most recently, Brafton reported that Cutts has urged businesses using SEO to focus on developing trust with their audiences. Achieving this can be difficult, however, quality content that aims to educate can be the best road to success. 

Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.