If there is one kind of blog post that makes my stomach turn, it's pay-per-post content that is just meant to deliver cheap SEO links for the "advertisers." Google, too, has generally looked down upon this kind of content. Now, however, it looks like the company is running its own pay-per-post campaign for Chrome, its increasingly popular browser. SEO Book's Aaron Wall was the first to discover the large number of posts that say "this post is sponsored by Google Chrome" today, but the news is quickly spreading across the web.
While there is every indication that these posts were indeed sponsored by Google, it's worth noting that I've asked Google for comment and will update this post when I hear back from them. It is, after all possible, that somebody else paid for this campaign to paint Google in a negative light.
Update: The Verge has learned that a marketing company called Unruly Media was hired by Google to run ads for Chrome, but Google denies that it ever "agreed to anything more than online ads" and that it "consistently avoided paid sponsorships, including paying bloggers to promote our products."
"Google Chrome helped this small business in Vermont go global."
As of now, there are about 400 blog posts that feature this text, generally at the bottom of the story. Most of them were published within the last week or so, though some are also a bit older. The sites that were apparently chosen to run these stories tend to be of the mommy-blog persuasion.
As Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan points out, Google's own Matt Cutts has said, "paid posts should not pass PageRank" and the company generally looks down upon these "sponsored conversations." These sponsored posts, though, are obviously little else but attempts to buy links. Why Google needs this, is hard to say, though.
With its Panda Update, Google has also worked hard to ban low-quality content from its index, but if you look at the results of this campaign, it's clear that it's not exactly buying high-quality posts either (though it's worth noting that some of these posts don't even feature links to Chrome). Some even reference a YouTube video about how Chrome helped a small business in Vermont go global without even linking to the video.
It's not clear, how Google approached these bloggers. While most of them have run paid posts before, they don't all seem to be affiliated with the same pay-per-post organization, but it's possible that some of them aren't disclosing their affiliation either.
You can find a more detailed analysis of this situation over on Search Engine Land, too.