Google cautions news organizations over misleading use of advertorials

Technology -

Google wants news organizations to clearly label any links that they've been paid for, lest their search ranking be negatively affected.

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Source: www.flickr.com
Source: www.flickr.com

The head of Google's Web spam team said May 29 that the company is prepared to punish news organizations--by lowering their search engine rankings--if they don't clearly label ads that have been made to look like standard editorial content, known as advertorial or native advertising.

"If someone were to come to a newspaper reporter and say, 'I'm going to give you some money. Can you link [to us] within your news article?' that would be deceptive. People would not realize that there was payment involved, and it would really not be fair." Matt Cutts, head of Web spam team at Google

Cutts, in a video posted May 29, said that news organizations must abide by Google's guidelines vis-a-vis paid links to not have their search rankings affected. These guidelines include clearly labeling paid links and not to have "flowing" pages with paid links for search engine ranking purposes.

While Google's guidelines aren't new, they come at a time when several news organizations have started to use so-called native advertising to increase revenue. Such advertising can be difficult to distinguish from genuine editorial content since it's often formatted to resemble editorial content.

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