Google Grounded Itself for Cheating Its Own Search Engine

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Photo: Kimihiro Hoshino/AFP/Getty Images

Web giant Google, quietly terrifying in its power, is showing the world that its rules apply to everyone by punishing its own browser, Google Chrome, but they're also maintaining their innocence. The company was caught by a blog called Search Engine Land paying for sponsored posts about Chrome, thereby improving the browser's placement in search results. Google turned around and blamed a third party, and claimed they just paid for video ads (a curious thing considering Google owns a video ad network), but that the company they outsourced to did the dirty work. Nonetheless, Google has agreed to "demote" Chrome's Google ranking for at least 60 days, just to set an example for everyone else. 

Googling "web browser" used to bring up Chrome on the first page of results, but now it's nowhere to be found, while Firefox, Opera, Safari, and even Internet Explorer eat up all the clicks.

While displacing most of the blame, Google did admit that the scheme went afoul of its rules against paying for links. "While Google did not authorize this campaign, and we can find no remaining violations of our webmaster guidelines, we believe Google should be held to a higher standard, so we have taken stricter action than we would against a typical site," said a spokesperson. It's self-flagellation for Internet nerds, and so it only hurts if you care about things like market share.