• http://www.facebook.com/matt.cook.564 Matt Cook

    But it’s still okay for ESPN to include follow links on it’s high PR pages to StubHub? Some companies just get a free pass because of who they are or who they know.

  • Alan

    Advertorials ?? does this mean guest blogging is already dead? I mean what is the difference between and advertorial and a guest post? money? How would Google ever know if money has or hasn’t changed hands?

  • daveintheuk

    Clearly the only reason anybody would link from their site to another is to influence Google rankings… how arrogant. One day Google will realise that (despite all the good they used to do for the internet before becoming publicly owned and greedy) it isn’t theirs to dictate how people run their sites.

  • Gagool

    It’s pure naivety to think they will ever “realise” something like that. They might be forced to realise it; anything less won’t work.

  • daveintheuk

    I totally agree. Sadly in the US the FTC have failed to do so, fingers crossed the European authorities are more forward thinking.

  • daveintheuk

    Google doesn’t *know* anything. They just try to make broad generalisations with algorithm which have no external or independent scrutiny… the fact that they have to penalise rather than simply devaluing paid links shows how rubbish they are at detecting them.

  • http://www.thewriteprovider.co.uk/ Shaun

    Guest blogging done properly adds value to a website by serving both the site that publishes a post and the person who writes it or their client. Those posts are not advertorials in my experience.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    The Google post was pretty clear this was about paid links, and it’s also pretty clear that’s what these were about. Google’s not dictating whether you can link to sites or take payment, only that publishers who do take payment for linking risk penalties in Google. Don’t care about Google? Then you can do what you want.

    The bigger issue is really what happens if Google gets it wrong. What if Google interprets something as a paid link, penalizes you and doesn’t disclose that.

    A related issue is simply the pretty clear futility of a lot of this. So advertorial links can’t count; press release links have been under fire; infographic links are under threat. Are we getting to the point where Google should just list the three types of link types that are allowed?

    The real solution is that Google isn’t trying to figure out what’s a paid link or not but rather simply try to assess whether a link should care much weight or not. And in these examples, it shouldn’t have been hard to figure out these were links that should have been discounted.

  • Durant Imboden

    Maybe I’m naive, but I always thought the reason for linking to another site was to help the reader find more information on the topic at hand. I guess I’ve been doing things wrong for the last 17 years.

  • Alan

    Yes and how does Google work out if you have done it properly or not? Judging by the number of requests to pay for a guest post on my sites compared to the ones that are offered free I would say that Google can assume that 90% of guest posts are paid for. I hardly get requests for free guest posts these days. The market is so competitive they have to offer incentive. I don’t accept guest posts on my sites and say so on the front but it still doesn’t deter them from offering.

    As I have said before guest posting will the next link building tactic that Google will stamp out. They will have to.

  • Enovabiz

    I believe that Google’s algorithm is not equipped to discount/disregard a link from a particular site and hence it penalizes the whole site. In this case also why penalize a site for paid links? Just don’t give the link any value. Let people waste their money on buying links and let publishers earn money. People are not just supposed to earn through Google adsense ( Majority don’t and can’t survive on adsense)

    Google is just trying to shift the blame for their algo’s inadequacy on publishers.

  • http://twitter.com/klmnweb KlmnWeb

    I guess this is arrogance from Google. And, I am sure Google can’t decipher what a paid link and a natural link is and to be honest, this is practically impossible. In this very post, there are more than 4 outgoing links ( majority in the author byline). Now, the big question to Google – are they paid or normal links? Can Google make a distinction here? Maybe the author (no offence taken please) paid SEL to place those hyperlinks here or maybe they are the authors’. Who can decide and how can a machine decide? The only thing Google or a normal human eye can detect is the relevancy & redundancy of such links across all websites. The more irrelevant links on irrelevant sites the, more attention it will be fetch from Mr. Matt Cutts. So, it can not be logical to state that paid links can be penalized all the way. First find them and disclose them. Else, webmasters should start tagging all outbound links with ‘Nofollow’ attribute from now on.. :P And then, if everyone follows suite, where will the relevancy of links stand? Google should give it a thought and fine-tune their statements about links.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Yes, that’s what I said — decide if a link should carry weight or not. It gets very problematic when Google is trying to decide if a link should be used in a negative way.

  • TmWe

    Google could have just ignored these links if they wanted to.
    My calculations show that Google is currently totally ignoring 93.76% of links on the internet. 5.24% are noted for penguin and paid spam penalties and the reminder 1% are noted and allowed to pass page rank.

  • Alan

    If Google gave us the 3 types of links allowed then what would Matt put in his videos?

  • Durant Imboden

    Actually, the FTC *has* shown an interest in advertorial, just not in the way that Googlephobes might hope. The FTC has ruled that blogs must disclose “material connections” with advertisers. In other words, if you’re a blogger and you’re running a “sponsored post” that you’ve being paid to publish, you need to disclose the fact. So it would appear that Google and the FTC are on the same page when it comes to undisclosed advertorial.

    The problem for Google is how to identify advertorial algorithmically when links in “sponsored posts” aren’t nofollowed. In high-profile cases like the Interflora/UK newspapers example, Matt Cutts & Co. can keep their ears to the ground and their eyes on the offenders. Things get trickier with smaller targets such as bloggers. Google obviously doesn’t have the resources to monitor every travel blogger who’s on the take from convention & visitors bureaus or every fashion blogger who’s getting paid for coverage of a clothing or handbag line. So what does Google do? It could simply discount links that looked “statistically excessive,” but that wouldn’t have the same impact as penalizing offenders who were actually buying or selling links. (For what it’s worth, I know that many relatively low-circulation bloggers sell links on the assumption that they’re below Google’s radar and won’t get caught. And maybe they’re right.)

  • Laura Wolf

    It is interesting. I mean how does Google know whether it is a guest blog, a content provided free of charge for the site for the link or paid link? I am confused.

  • Durant Imboden

    How does google tell paid links from organic links? In many cases, it’s probably easier than you think. Examples:

    1) A general travel blog has three outbound plain-text links to random travel vendors on every page. (Say, a river-cruise line, an online travel agency, and a luggage company.) The odds are 100 to 1 that those links were purchased.

    2) An editorial site or blog has a plain-text link to an e-commerce site on the home page. How likely is it that the link wasn’t purchased? Not very.

    Now, there may be times when a general travel blog might link to a river-cruise line, an online travel agency, or a luggage company for “organic” reasons. But out of context? Let’s get real. And there may be times when an editorial site or blog might link to an e-commerce site without being compensated. But on the home page? Come on.

    Multiply such suspect links by fifty, a hundred, or a thousand, and patterns become obvious. At some point, they become obvious enough that a search engine’s anti-spam team can feel comfortable in upping the ante from disregarding the links to applying a penalty.

  • http://twitter.com/klmnweb KlmnWeb

    Thanks Durant for the elaboration. You statement leads to one aspect – avoid pattern linking.. But still in this case a machine cannot be conclusive to separate a paid link from a free organic link. I understand Google will be running after this but as you said, if anyone (read spammers) take to building links without leaving any footprint, they can’t be caught right? Even if those maybe paid links but what can they care for that those links should not typical and the target is achieved. Again, you can never be sure of a link being paid or natural. All your statements are based on some stats and pattern, like links from homepage, links to commercial sites and so on. But, if people try to manipulate this, this is indeed possible to befool an software. To me, we should be honest linking out and /or linking in. Everything should be natural and more importantly, should not run after back links. Let’s them come naturally. There are other factors (possibly out of 200) if improvised, can bring ranking to any site.

  • Brian Alpert

    Exactly. If I remember correctly, this was a big issue with companies sending products to “mommy bloggers” for review, essentially taking advantage of (and jeopardizing) the readers’ trust in the blogger’s opinion. With specific rules requiring certain levels of disclosure in place, you (hopefully) can safely assume that since all compensated coverage will be disclosed, any reviews that DON’T state material connections are comparatively objective.

  • Min Min

    I agree. I do see Google ignores a lot of links in its algo. But to penalize a site it needs proof.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tiffany-Ellis/100000339461285 Tiffany Ellis

    Google decides what constitutes an advertorial or not. If they decide that guest blog posts are advertorials, then for Google’s intents and purposes, guest blog posts are advertorials and will be penalized as such. What we think is totally irrelevant; Google is the giant that can drop the hammer… all we can do is react to the tremors.

  • Suraj Gurung

    Penalization is a tough word for any online business website….they reach a level of success after spending hell lots of time and money. I think Google Team should consider them before implementing any kind of such rules.

    Definitely low quality sites should not appear at Top but there’s other way to stop them. They should make their bot able to find low quality sites and remove their Ranking.

  • http://www.webdesignoptimizare.ro Optimizare Site

    are allowed links with nofollow attribute, links that really are given by strangers who really like yor site and links from adwords! :-) see why here: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66356
    how the big g would know about a link if it;s paid or not? maybe they have acces to the bank accounts too…

  • http://www.thewriteprovider.co.uk/ Shaun

    That’s why there are tools that cost thousands each year to help with the correct blogger outreach programs – the other 10% of links that are not paid for.

  • Willy André Bergstrøm

    The rules are pretty clear. Interflora and others chose to violate them, and got hit as a result.
    They’re back now, after having taken corrective measures.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1368023397 Andrew Lewis

    what sucks is that If i am a main sponsor of a site, (which I have done in the past for linux communites) the site usually will say a thankyou to me, and have a link to one of my sites. Seeing as this is now considered to be a “paid link” and will cause a setback to the linux community itself, there is now no reason for me to donate money to these communities.

    Give them donations to stay online = paid link = punishment for them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/patricia.midori.7 Patricia Midori

    You have to understand that google is an american company, the american mind is all about having an ennemy ( hey they still have guns in the streets over there, and start wars to steal resources from other countries ! ) , so their ennemy is what they call “spammers”, even if it hurts good people ( which is most likely 99.99% of websites ), the collateral damages are huge as always.but the real goal of the fake spam team is of course to bring google ads sales up and amazon’s web site up ( same board members ). even if that means killing small businesses on the way. they have no pity and no shame. their main motto is “kill everyone who costs an adword/google shopping sale”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/patricia.midori.7 Patricia Midori

    i guess tripadvisor has some serious worries to have since restaurants and hotels can purchase a listing on there with a link… yes it is a paid link + all the businesses who bought a listing on trip advisor…