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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Google Japan Reportedly Bought Blog Posts in Promotion Campaign, Now Issued Apology

Akky Akimoto at the Asiajin blog recently reported that Google Japan was paying bloggers to review a new Google widget. Using pay-per-post service CyberBuzz, blog posts like the following popped up, strangely resembling each other, as Asiajin reports:

The Google Hot Keywords blog widget [link to Google’s page] can show you what is in fashion now, and what other people are interested in.

It’s appealing that you can view buzzwords from the previous day or the previous week. I am sometimes surprised to see that such words are so popular! Personally, I like the “fortune-teller” feature from the previous week’s ranking. When I click on a keyword, I am quickly taken to Google’s result page and so I enjoy the feature.

I might not have noticed them by myself, but now I understand that these things are what people care about.

I am participating in CyberBuzz’s campaign.

Asiajin says, “CyberBuzz is one of the biggest pay-per-post agencies in Japan and are known for their high payouts,” with some posts getting “$100 for a single entry.” Asiajin explains “These articles, which look almost the same as regular ones, have ’ad’ tags ... [at the bottom], which are very subtle, and will no doubt not be noticed by many readers,” adding “So they are now link-building using monetary incentives to try to crook their own search results in a malicious way.” TechCrunch comments, “It’s interesting to see that Google, a company that not too long ago radically took action against PayPerPost bloggers in the US [see Google’s Matt Cutts’ post], today thinks the concept is suitable as long as it helps them advance in Japan”.

By now, Google Japan issued an apology. Asiajin translated the post:

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 apologize 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.

[Thanks Gen Kanai and Yv.!]


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