If you have a blog that gets a decent amount of traffic, chances are at some point you’ve received an email from an advertiser asking to buy advertising space or back links to their website within your blog article content. This happened to us a couple of months ago, we got an email from a ‘marketing agency’ in England asking if they could pay us to insert back links to their advertising clients’ websites, within a particular article on our blog. I naturally thought this was spam, and we don’t sell back links on our website or blog for any amount of money anyways, so I simply trashed it. However, this is actually pretty common and some people make a decent amount of money selling links within their article content. Well, the fun’s over now, as Google is starting to crack down on this as well.
Matt Cutts of Google released a video yesterday explaining that ‘advertorials’ or content/articles that were written specifically to drive traffic to another website, will now have to follow some rules. These rules are simple and make perfect sense. For example, if you accept money to post an ‘advertorial’ on your blog, which links to another website for marketing/selling, you need to disclose that, clearly, within the article. If you have links back to other websites, you should use ‘nofollow’ tags so search engines don’t follow the links back to the paid advertiser.
Here’s the reasoning: If you have a blog/website that gets a good amount of traffic, you’re essentially getting paid by advertisers so they can benefit from your content’s popularity. In a nutshell, chances are that advertiser’s website would not have received the same amount of traffic through organic rankings, so your blog is unfairly boosting traffic to them, and potentially deceiving your readers as to the real nature of the article. Makes sense? I think so.
Now, Google isn’t saying that you cannot do this, they’re just saying that if you do this, make it as clear as possible to the reader that the article was paid for by an advertiser, and use the ‘nofollow’ tag on external links to the advertisers’ site (which kind of defeats the purpose for most advertisers). However, if you write the content in an engaging manner, it can still be beneficial to the advertiser. Just don’t encourage search engine bots to follow the link to the advertiser’s website.