Google’s Paid Links – A Short Lesson for Marketing Clients

January 3rd, 2012 by Search Influence Alumni

Google Paid Links

Your Stance on your Internet Marketing

As first reported by perennial Google watchdog SEOBook, the search engine company has been found using followed paid links for their online marketing, directly in violation of their best practices. Some, including Aaron Wall, see this as further proof of Google’s lack of self-commitment to the values they force on small businesses and other website owners; however, it’s clear that this story’s moral is more far-reaching than simple “Do As I Say, Not As I Do” and even a small business can come away from this story with another case study in outsourcing marketing to a firm.

The most in-depth coverage is from Search Engine Land, who chronicles the story’s discovery, damage control, resolution, and culmination, giving the interested the whole story and showing Google to be somewhat fair by penalizing themselves. There likely isn’t any intentional foul here — already the Chrome page has a PageRank penalty, dropping it relatively in the SERPs.

But for the average marketer, the rubbernecking and tin-foil hats are only window-dressing. Underlying this story, like the widespread story from earlier this week about another outsourced marketing fiasco, is the need to ask your marketing company “How are things going?” With both stories, there was a breakdown on the client’s side to check on the day-to-day running of the marketing campaign. For Google, this led to sloppy blog posting guidelines from a company that doesn’t understand the finer points of SEO or user design; for Ocean Marketing, it led to a one-man shop answering hundred of emails becoming frustrated and lashing out.

Any business letting someone else do their outreach or marketing has to be an active participant. It is not enough to pass the buck, throwing those you’re working with under the bus. The “it’s not me” game played by Google, then Essence Digital, and finally Unruly shows not that the companies are all trying to act in good faith, but that not one of the three companies checked to see if the campaign would do more damage than good.

Clients of marketing firms: read the copy written for you; it reflects your business. Ask for the guidelines for freelancers and writers; making sure that best practices are mandated, rather than suggested. Avoid bad press for your brand by being involved in the process, making sure that the campaign is following the vision you had when you left the planning meeting. Don’t be Google — be better.