Tech Crunch notes in this story about Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick that “many have missed one part of the deal that may raise eyebrows: Google now owns SEO firm Performics.” Welp, as an employee of another firm that offers SEO and SEM services, I can say we sure didn’t miss that element. I’ve already felt that Google’s aggressive promotion of its free paid search strategy services offered enough of a conflict of interest, but as Danny Sullivan points out at length, they will now be accepting payment from firms wishing to rank well in their own natural search results. Google has long touted that they don’t have any connections to SEO firms…well, now they do. I’m sure they will pull out their “Don’t Be Evil” flag and wave it around, as if merely saying that that is their motto means they can do anything they want and it’s still okay. But selling SEO strategy is a clear conflict of interest and I agree with Danny that they should divest themselves of Performics as soon as they can.