The first rule of not being evil is: don't do things you think are evil. So it's a shame that Google has violated its own policy by giving bloggers cash in exchanges for writing about its browser, Chrome.
Google, or perhaps more likely its advertising firm Unruly, has managed to sponsor bloggers to chew the fat over Chrome, reports SEO Book. Some of them talk about how great Chrome is for small businesses, and most contain a Google promo video.
Meh, that's kind of fine, right? Mmm, the thing is, paid-for links to the Chrome download page would be just fine according to Google's rules — as long as they were tagged up as "nofollow" links. That's supposed to let PageRank know that a link was paid for so as to exclude it from search rankings.
But, uh, some of the links didn't follow that guideline.
OK, so this isn't too bad: it isn't like Google is culling small kittens, granted. And it could in fact be an innocent mistake on the part of the bloggers. But what it more likely indicates is that Google is getting so large that it can't help but trip over its own policies. And at that point, it becomes difficult to hold an entire organisation up to its existing ethical codes.
So, don't be evil. At least, if you can remember what you mean by evil.
Update: Unruly CEO Scott Button has assured Peter Kafka at All Things D that there's nothing too sinister going on. In an email, he told Kafka: "As far as I'm aware, there was one link in one post that was not marked nofollow. This was corrected as soon as we became aware of it."
[SEO Book via TechCrunch; Image: brionv]