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I just posted a video about how the webspam team will treat native advertising that violates our quality guidelines, and mentioned that the Google News team is also willing to take action when something violates our guidelines.

See http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2013/02/a-reminder-about-selling-links.html for the official policy on the webspam side, and http://googlenewsblog.blogspot.com/2013/03/a-reminder-about-promotional-and.html for the recent Google News post.

+Jeff Jarvis also had an interesting take on native advertising yesterday at https://medium.com/whither-news/72c32793244f .

Added: If you prefer to read articles with a dash of humor, there's also The Onion piece, if you haven't seen it: http://www.theonion.com/articles/sponsored-content-pretty-fucking-awesome,32479/
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thanks for the explanation.. didn't realize about the complexity involved.. thanks for explaining it simple enough and trying to do the responsible thing.
I think this helps people trust the web/google, especially as we keep giving you more and more of our data....
Oh and please don't leave Google.. lol
 
A bit off topic here, I was just wondering if you were the one asking a question at that one "Payment autocomplete" session at Google I/O? I was watching the recordings of the sessions the other day and I recognized the sound of your voice :)
 
+Szabolcs Gergely that was me! Before I suggested that webmasters implement autocomplete or requestAutocomplete() on their websites, I wanted make sure that I understood it first. :)
 
This video is a little longer then most of your videos. Is this because you've got more to say about this, or are seeing this as a bigger problem?
 
Thanks for another great video +Matt Cutts! I have a quick question - what is the situation when a company will provide a product for review? As a reader we see this all the time with gadget blogs. I assume that the correct thing to do would be to disclose that the company supplied the product for review?
Miklin
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Why would a user be "frustrated" if they found out something was paid instead of posted naturally? I figure, the most important aspect would be the source of the content and if the source has some type of authority, then any advertorials written, paid or not, would have to be some what relevant to their website and brand. While there are a pleather of reasons why Google Search is not a fan of this method, I believe one of the largest concerns is because they pass authority through keyword-rich anchor text, and game the search engines. This also encourages larger corporations, websites, and blogs to keep taking money for these practices. Now... Here's the thing: for these sites to pass authority and trick the search engines, they had to work hard and pay a lot of money to develop the authority themselves, so why not reward them with the ability to pass along the goods to those who can afford it? Also, what about paid, relevant, local directories that pass along page rank, is that necessarily bad? Especially, when the directories are relevant to the user and the service or brand? There are just so many different ways to pass along PR, so why hunt down the advertorials, when they generally are the brands, people, and corporations who worked hard and paid large amounts of money for years to get to where they are.   And what about "Guest Blogging"? How much different from a user stand point is "Guest Blogging" than paid advertorials? Listen.. So far, I am a big fan of the #penguin2 update, I just want to cover all the areas.
 
Sounds straightforward. Now if only the large media outlets would be a little more open to this idea vs. trying to rebrand "Paid advertising" to things like "BrandVoice", or having "More from XYZ news outlet" Link to a paid outbrain article.   
 
It would be pointless to follow Google guidelines if they aren't responsible enough to keep the agreement publishers/site owner/webmaster signed up for.
 
I run a tourism site with all sorts of links & banners to businesses. None of them paid. They're places I like. Any advice there? I may add paid banners to the unpaid ones, but they randomly rotate, and my disclaimer and privacy pages already state that there may be some paid ads on the site. Beyond that would either mouseover link-text or the word at the bottom of a banner saying "advertisement" be enough? I obviously woudn't be able to prove I didn't get paid for something if Google decides it "looks like" an ad.
 
+Matt Cutts  , what if my company has a blog with a different Domain? does that get flagged as advertorial? The blog would be transfering pagerank to the main domain, wouldn't it?
 
Dave, Matt was not phasing on banner, but if you have these banners paid, add anchor/title text as Advertisement and add rel=nofollow to link, Anything unpaid can be the way it is. Hard part is how google can outline which is what ?
 
+Matt Cutts People contact me all the time offering me guest blogs, etc. If the article is relevant to my site I will post it for them. Why is it my job to figure out how that effects page rank or their marketing strategy. I only care that it is a good article that helps educate my viewers. Also, my site is a directory. Yes, I charge companies to be listed. That is not some sort of SEO trick. I am charging for my time to create the listing for them. I post tons of links to other websites, that is the purpose of my site. I never did this for page rank. But now my site is penalized as if I was trying to trick the engine. You are penalizing me for doing what is needed to create an informative website. Every time I try to read webmaster tools and fix something my traffic gets worse. I added a site map, I created cache expire to make it faster, I give up... 12 years of work down the drain because you no longer think directories and news resources are beneficial.
 
+Matt Cutts I've got a question then; how about all those people that do Amazon Affiliate blogging? (I don't do that any more, too much work. Better to create a service/product than promote someone else's IMO). 

Granted, the law states that you need to disclose Affiliate links, but from your video, as long as it's rel="nofollow" as well as displayed clearly (is a disclaimer in the footer enough? or should you do something along the lines of: "<link>Click here </link>(This is an affiliate link)".

But I do agree about having to disclose "Paid links"; there are WAY too many link buyers / sellers that do not disclose that information...
 
If YouTube, Android, Maps and every other google product followed your guidelines
 
Manish, of course, that's the concern. What criteria is being used to trigger an alarm, and then how is the alarm dealt with and investigated which then translates into a negative action against the site? Though I'd like to help my community I might have screw them by making everything "nofollow" and "advertisement" simply because it looks like it might be advertising - including the editorials with photos and videos I've shot or the full menu's I've reproduced and put online so people can see what kinds of foods are available in smaller places without much of a budget.
 
rel="nofollow" offers zero transparency to website viewers.  It only cuts down on the unmanageable quantity of links that have to be evaluated by engines.  Obviously, my viewers do not read my pages source code.
 
Matt - The Onion article that you linked to automatically started running a video advertisement on the landing page.  I was not aware that when I clicked your link, I would be served with an ad almost immediately.  Will google+ now be removed from Google search?  OK, I am being a bit of a jerk.  I just wanted to convey the fact that we often get penalized by your spam techniques for issues that are entirely out of our control.  As you had done, we try to link to helpful information.
 
The Google Maps results are very spamish these days, lots of people registering domain names as keywords and then putting in a keywords fr the company name, this is so unfair, I found one called PC Computer Repair, sadly, if I was to try to find this shop on the high street I would need to know the business name. Lots of computer service companies have done blackhat work on Google maps, my listing was blacklisted, however, I read all the Google Maps Guidelines and its now back.
 
As a web developer, if I have links to sites I have built on my website, reference sites if you like, am I going to be penalised as a link network?
 
+Rod Farrell : I don't thnk so. It's natural that you want to show websites you created to other people, that you want to leave a signature on them. Remember that Google likes everything which comes natural and this is what you are doing. You share your work, show sites you like - everything is ok.

About that SPAM thing. Well, spam in the Internet (and SERP) is a huge problem that makes me furious. When I see the site which is in TOP10 because of buying links... it drives me crazy. Hard work  - building good site which people consider as nice and usefull, optimazing it, care about unique and good content, care about updates, work on in for about 7 years and what? Here comes a spammer and makes my work just worthless!
 
Hi Matt, just two Quick questions:

Does Google only penalize the linking Site that runs the undeclared advertorial or does this also affect the linked site?

How about adserver links from Doubleclick? Are they automatically interpreteted as no-follow?

Thanks!
 
Perfect stuff! Its too late already!
 
It was confusing ... after penguin 2.0 there so many sites ranked well even they bought links ... any answers?
 
Good Move. Paid blog post, paid content publishing will come under these  guidelines.
 
+Philipp Woywod
 Google will penalize the both link publisher and link owner. Doubleclick ads are already nofollow
 
+Fabio Krauss Stabel  I think they will not be flagged as advertorial. It will be treated as linking done with the purpose to pass pagerank. So it should be linked nofollow
 
+Cameron Scott thanks for the comments.  Regarding the guest posts, I do post them at no charge.  I figured that it is mutually beneficial because it saves me from having to write the article myself and it helps them spread the message that is important to the writer.  Normally, I allow the author to add a link or two but if it is an exceptionally well written article I will allow a few more links.  Although I have never charged an author, I think that the option should be available to me if I needed another source of income in the future.  My site is very big.  Why shouldn't I be able to charge some one to post something.  It is like a huge TV network charging for placing a car commercial.  The car company pays the network because having an ad on TV is an important location.  My site is important to the fashion industry, so it should be fair that a clothing company pay me to use my online real estate to promote their message.  OK, I get the fact that on TV we know when they are having commercials.  However, let's keep in mind Coke, Laundry  detergent, and other items are often held by actors in TV shows and movies.  Doesn't the show some times get paid for product placement in the show or movie???  

On around 99.9% of my pages, I have a link to "legal notice", which includes comments that indicate that I use advertisements on my site.

Regarding unpaid directory, I do charge for listings, but I also create listings for free sometimes. My directory is not an automated process.  I create each listing manually so I feel I deserve payment.
 
Hi Matt, whats about a site which publishes press releases and taking money for sending the releases to the newspapers? The links within the press release must be nofollow?
 
For sure webmasters must need to make a difference between editorials and advertorials, otherwise they deserve the get penalty for not following proper guidelines not only for Google but for their users as well..
 
New Google shopping ads are not marked as nofollow! Marked as an advertisement but not nofollow! Although Google has always denied it we see better rankings for customers with PPC than ones without, Google shopping ads is just going to be another way for those with large budgets to get the top positions! 
 
Funny thing happened, all the webmasters i know received an adwords coupon after their site dropped. Google you are the monsanto of the internet. killing small businesses everyday. one at a time.
 
+Matt Cutts   My question is should the text "Paid Link" be left as a text or we should embed it within the article image.
 
Dear Matt, i was wondering, when you have like in my case, a 14 years old domain, with thousands of backlinks that are just impossible to remove, and that the disavowtool is just a placebo ( we tried it on several sites, it has 0 effect ) , is there a chance that the domain will come back one day ? or is is condemned forever ?
ps : could you ask your devs to make g+ load in less than 10s on a 2mb/s dsl connexion, right now it takes more than a minute before i can actually write something on it...
 
Matt, I sent you a message on this that I was hoping for a response on. This response still has a big fat gray area. We know Agencies who are "taking money" from companies and then working with bloggers and publications to place that content. The destination site is NOT getting paid, but money IS "exchanging hands" between the company and the agency. I would even submit that the destination sites are sometimes not even aware that this is paid content. They just believe it's PR outreach when in fact it's a backlinking strategy. I really wish we could get an answer on that. I'm advising my clients to NEVER do that - but the companies who are making a ton of money on it continue to say they're not compensating the website so there's no violation of Google's TOS.
 
+Douglas Karr
 see, you just pointed the big flaw of the google algorithm, big companies will always get away with murder ( like in the real analog world ) , this algorithm is only hurting small businesses which can't afford to buy links that look real. I know a small company who had to lay off 50 people after penguin 1.
 
Wow thats interesting +Matt Cutts . I am wondering what would be the next step! But I am wondering how would a web admin differentiate between them!
 
But matt i dont understand this. When you have a company end making money white your site but some one put 10.000 bat links behind it than the site is gettong a panalty richt? It takes months too get it out when you asking your webspam team ! That is not richt this company can not make money end in this bat economic years its going done thanks too google !! So this happens too 2 frends of mine end thee must sell there houses en are in bad shape because of google !!!
 
+Satch Corzilius
 sounds like something i lived myself last year ( sold my house, moved to the country side, had to start gardening to be able to eat... )
 
An example of good practice would be Google Adwords campaigns that pop up in search :-).
 
I understand...full disclosure...best user experience...blah blah blah. But let's keep it real...."frustrated and pretty angry..." for discovering what was read, is actually an ad and not organic web material.....pulleeezzzzz!  I for one, have never smashed my fist on the desk because I discovered I was reading an ad and thought it was an actual article....just sayin'....
 
great esteem for you, but it's making my life a hell ^_^
 
I have to say I think this is poorly judged. Companies should be allowed to buy online advertising without having to TELL the publisher how they  should code the Ad for fear of being punished in Googles SERPS if its not done by your rules at the publisher end.
 
+Steve Napier imagine a movie with product placement, "with a message : an ad is coming and an outline around the product" , this is the same thing indeed.
I just wished adwords were visible to most users, not a very evil almost invisible color on most screens...
 
I used to pay to be a sponsor on a high quality site. I was listed as a sponsor and as such had a link to my site on about 45k pages. I do not think they were no follow. I've since discontinued sponsorship since about march and slowly those links have reduced now to 15k as crawling updates. I don't want to disavow the site as it is good quality and does and will have links back to me. Should I wait? Any advice? X
 
+Glenn Earls the only legitimate way to manipulate results by spending money is Adwords. ( goes against G guidelines itself but well... )
 
Great idea!

An even better idea would be to get Google's telemarketing team to stop spamming my workplace every frickin` day!
 
Who doesn't like your video presentations and how well you address issues. I mean, I do.
 
Question for +Matt Cutts (although I doubt this will get read)...

If I were to pay a blogger to add content to my website's blog and even provide them with a mail address and G+ profile link in each post how would +Google recognise this as an #Advertorial ..?
 
I'm just throwing an idea out there +nicole mahramus.

I'm strictly white hat but I can see immediately how a blogger could be PAID to create content and as a developer I can also see a way round the authorship rules.
 
Bonjour
Désolé je ne parle pas anglais ! donc pas facile de s'expliquer et de comprendre !
J ai reçu un méssage me disant que javais des liens non conformes, pourtant je n'ai jamais acheté de liens ni cherché a tromper Google.
Je parle bien d'autre site sur mon site mais juste pour informer mes visiteurs.
J'ai trouvé des liens vers mon site que je ne connais pas et que j'ai désavoué mais rien ne change. Je ne sais plus quoi faire, je ne suis qu'un artisan pas un professionnel du référencement.
Bonne journée
E.Levigneron
maisoneco(at)live.fr
pour info mon site: www . maisonecomalin . com
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Is there an automated way (and/or service) to ease finding YouTube videos that promote an unsafe use of a product (so that a brand can flag)?
 
Bonjour
Après une demande de réexamen de mon site toujours la même réponse, sans aucune explication ! Le chef avait pourtant promis de donner quelques exemples de mauvais liens.
Le Dieu Google a surement mieux à faire que de chercher à comprendre un petit site Français ou à traduire ces courriers ce que j’ai fais pendant des heures pour essayer de comprendre puisque presque toutes les explications sont en anglais.
Je suis un artisan je m'occupe seul de mon site sans être un webmaster professionnel et j aurais aimé savoir pourquoi on me traite de mal honnête ou de voyou.
J’ai bien fais des échanges de liens, mais pour parler de site qui pouvais apporter des renseignements complémentaires à mes visiteurs.
Mais je n’ai jamais acheté de liens pour tromper Google, pas le temps ni les moyens !
Je préfère le passer à satisfaire mes clients et à donner les meilleurs renseignements possibles aux visiteurs de mon site, afin de sauver mon entreprise, que de le passer à chercher des mauvais liens sans savoir ou les chercher.
Je n’espère aucune réponde de votre part, mais j’avais besoins de le dire !
C’est très désagréable d’être traité de voleur sans pouvoir ce défendre !
Bonne continuation et vacances à vous.
Cordialement
E.Levigneron
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Very helpful.  Thanks.  Please tell me how to handle the folllowing:  I got an email the other day from a company that offered to write  blog entries for me free.  They did one that required a major edit.  Hence, I identified it as my own work.  I am sure someone paid them to embed links but this was not disclosed either to me or my readers.  

As the article was not very good and required a major rework, I do not plan on using them again.  But, is it your advice to avoid such services? 

Thanks.
 
Matt this is a great summary of Google policy.  However I do continue to worry that NoFollow rules often favor some of the most deceptive players in the game at the expense of the mom and pops who in many cases don't even understand the nuances of linking.   Another challenge is that linking has never been as pristine as implied by NoFollow rules.   Before the advent of Google and all the money that's now in the game, people linked opportunistically, especially in the form of reciprocal links.   I think it would be helpful (to credibility of NoFollow and the algorithm in general)  if you published several case studies by the search quality team to demonstrate that the rules are really creating higher quality lists of sites for valuable terms.  
David B
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This is great and very informative. Google does care.
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