Image via WikipediaGoogle Japan issued an apology over the reviews it paid bloggers to write for a newly released widget this week.
This wasn't quite the end of the matter, though. Matt Cutts, Google's search spam team leader, twittered to say;
Google.co.jp PageRank is now ~5 instead of ~9. I expect that to remain for a while.
Someone in Japan will be cringing tonight. It's very embarrassing for Google and perhaps illustrates all too clearly that not everyone is aware of the rules-cum-guidelines the search engine issues.
This will continue to be a hot issue for 2009. There is still plenty of frustration that too many people buy links, knowing that they shouldn't, and get away with it. There will also be those times when people buy links, not knowing they shouldn't, and fall foul of the systems.
When I spoke at e-marketing Paris this year I was asked to talk about 'how to link safely' - the demand and uncertainty was there.
I'm waiting with a degree of concern over how the SEO community will react to this. I don't want to see more the "let's buy links" bridage try and milk this.