Google.co.uk ranking for Google Chrome in UK?

Google Logo 2012

Less than a week has passed since Aaron Wall highlighted the fact that Google was buying links to pass PageRank to their Google.com Chrome landing page (directly or indirectly). I saw a tweet from Rishi Lakhani that Google.co.uk was now ranking for the search term ‘Google Chrome’, when it hadn’t been last week (Google.com was).

So what has changed? Should this page be ranking for ‘Google Chrome’ following the controversial purchasing of links? Worse still – it returns a 404 error page…well it did….

Last Update: 09/01/2012 at 17:15
As I’ve been writing this post, the page has been updated to actually include content rather than return a 404 error page. Here is a picture of the cache I’ve just taken (didn’t grab the actual 404 live version):

Cached version of www.google.co.uk/chrome

As google.com/chrome was penalised for buying links, could it be that the Google team thought it would be useful to populate the previously redundant Google.co.uk page with some useful content for UK visitors, something Google hasn’t really done in the past?

Looking at the following chart in isolation shows that since the Google penalty (on Google.com) www.google.co.uk has risen over eight pages to feature as the number one entry for ‘Google Chrome’:

Google.co.uk overtaking Google.com for Google Chrome

But when we look back over the past few months, it is clear that this was always the case, until the week before Christmas:

Google.co.uk ranks number one for 'Google Chrome' but drops just before Christmas

The drop occurred on the 19th of December as highlighted in the table and chart below:

Table highlighting the drop of Google.co.uk for Google Chrome

Over the Christmas 2011 period, Google.co.uk dropped for Google Chrome

If we take an even closer look on the 19th, it is clear that other Google pages are being promoted ahead of the .co.uk version (possibly because the content had been taken down? – I’m unsure of that):

Other Google page being returned for 'Google Chrome'

Its unclear as to why the content on Google.co.uk/Chrome was removed and also the exact date of when it was removed, however our data clearly shows that the domain had no problem ranking pre-Christmas for the keyword term. I’ve been critical in the past of Google towards the way it handled the June 2009 algorithm change where Matt Cutts said that we were more likely to see “.coms in the UK” – regardless of relevance, which many webmasters and SEOs pointed out, but it fell on deaf ears.

Ironic that given the embarrassing state the Google webspam (and Chrome) team find themselves in, a .co.uk website remerges from the ashes to help all of those UK visitors looking for their browser. Still, shame about all those UK visitors looking for a nice meal along the Southbank (in London!) hey?

Edit: Since publishing this blog, Google have been playing around with a 302 redirect on .co.uk to a .com page:

Screenshot showing 302 redirect from google.co.uk to a google.com page

As of 17:13 UK time – the URL is now returning a 200 again.