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Google Demotes Chrome in Rankings After Paid-Blog Promotion Flap

Jan. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Google Inc. demoted its Chrome browser in Web-search rankings after an advertising effort for the tool ran afoul of its own rules governing paid promotions.

The company is “taking manual action to demote” Chrome and lower its ranking for at least 60 days, Mountain View, California-based Google said yesterday in an e-mailed statement.

Google’s remarks came in response to blog posts that made favorable remarks about the Chrome browsing tool and said they were sponsored by Google, said Aaron Wall, founder of SEOBook.com, which trains marketers on how to improve search results. Google said it didn’t give a green light to the campaign, which it said stemmed from efforts to buy online ads.

“We have consistently avoided paid sponsorships, including paying bloggers to promote our products, because these kind of promotions are not transparent or in the best interests of users,” Google said. “We’re now looking at what changes we need to make to ensure that this never happens again.”

Helping users distinguish between authentic endorsements and advertising is central to what search engines do, and Google has punished websites it accuses of manipulating results to present paid content as original thought.

“People were outraged and cursing about it,” Wall said of online discussion that began last week. “They were saying it was an insane double standard and crazy.”

Essence Digital, an Internet-advertising company that has worked with Google to promote Chrome, posted a statement online to offer “context on what happened.”

Essence Digital said that Google didn’t authorize a campaign to pay for sponsored blog posts. Google only agreed to buy online video ads, Essence Digital said. The company apologized to Google.

Matt Isaacs, CEO of Essence Digital, declined to elaborate.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jordan Robertson in San Francisco at jrobertson40@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net

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