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Google Japan's pay-per-post fiasco

On February 5, Google introduced its new top page with “Hot new keywords” below the search box. As I reported here before, Google in Asia (not only Japan but also Korea, China etc.) has added links with icon below the search box last year hoping to improve visitor’s experience at Google. Basically, Google realized that in order to gain the number of site usage, they’d need to direct searchers to other services such as Google map, Google news, YouTube and Gmail.

In order to spread the word about this new “hot new keywords” function on the top page, they hired an online marketing company specialized in hiring blogger to write articles related to products and services. While this practice is more accepted in Japan than elsewhere, the thing is that Google themselves view this practice as a big “No-No” and has been taking action against pay per post bloggers.

Google posted “We realized this practice goes against Google’s search guideline, and have discontinued the campaign. Sorry for the confusion that this created.” on Google JP blog. The “hot new keywords” links have been removed from the top page, too. (As of 4pm ET on Feb 11)

I think the problem came from a communication break down within Google Japan, and don’t think that Google JP as a whole thought it was a great idea. It showed while it’s great to hire a marketing specialist, if he/she doesn’t know about the company policy, in this case the Google’s own Search Guideline, the marketing campaign (no matter how it may sounds great to one department) would not just fail but to damage the brand image.

Let’s hope that Google JP would come out of that “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” Jan syndrome and focus on what makes Google attractive to Japanese.

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Motoko Hunt

President & Search Marketing Strategist at AJPR
Motoko Hunt manages the SEO for all of Adobe's properties in Japan and the APAC region. Prior to joining Adobe, Motoko established AJPR in 1998; she has been providing search marketing consulting services targeting Japan and Asia to companies around the world. Her services have made a big impact on the search marketing campaigns of some of the world's most popular multi-national brands. A number of her articles have been published on industry websites and printed media including MultiLingual Computing and the International Journal of Localisation. She also writes about the Japanese online market on her blog at AJPR and contributes to several online magazines in Japan and Asia. She served as a member of the board of directors of SEMPO in 2010-2012, and is a chairperson of the SEMPO Asia-Pacific Committee.

9 Responses to Google Japan's pay-per-post fiasco

  1. Paul says:

    “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” Jan syndrome!
    haha ha..I like it:-)

    Regarding the recent Yahoo / Microsoft Bing deal,
    do you think this represents an opportunity for
    other Asian search engines like Baidu Japan or Naver Japan
    to increase their footprint here in Japan?

    I wrote an article about it on our website.

  2. […] Google Japan’s pay-per-post fiasco […]

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  5. Motoko Hunt says:

    By the way, Google JP page rank has gone down to only 5 today for buying links. Matt Cutts of Google said he expects to remain that way for a while.

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