Google’s Matt Cutts On Advertorials; Webmaster Guidelines

Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts, posted a new video today on YouTube clarifying Google’s stance on Advertorials and “native advertising.”
Advertorials are editorial-like content that is published because an advertiser has paid the publication to publish the story or the content.
Recently, we covered a story on how a major U.K. floral company was penalized for using advertorials as a way to boost their Google search rankings in an artificial way. Google’s Cutts wanted to make it clear that it is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines for webmasters and advertisers to use advertorials or native advertising as a means of passing PageRank to your webpages.
Matt explained that Google treats links as editorial votes. When links are embedded into advertorials or paid stories, if they are not disclosed, that is against Google’s guidelines.
Matt Cutts posted a slide showing their guidelines for both user advertorial disclosure and search engine advertorial disclosure:
google advertorial guidelines
In summary, the Google guidelines for Advertorials are:
(1) Search Engines: If links are paid for, i.e., money changes hands, then links should not pass PageRank. You should nofollow links in Advertorials.
(2) Users & Readers: It should be clear to your readers that this is a paid story by labeling it advertisement or sponsored story.
So, why is Google talking about this now? There was no change in Google policy, but Matt said that there has been an increase of webmasters using this technique in the recent months. They have taken action against this for years and will continue to do so in the future.
Matt also added that this does not just impact Google Web Search but also the Google News results. Google News might not only remove the paid content but also might remove the news source from the Google News index completely.

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