Google's Cutts: Nofollow Links In Advertorials Or Else!

May 30, 2013 • 9:13 am | comments (60) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Matt Cutts Google AdvertorialsYesterday, Google's head of search spam, Matt Cutts posted a video on Google's stance on using advertorials in a way to manipulate Google's search results.

As you can imagine, if you use advertorials and those advertorials have links to your web site - you must nofollow them or Google can take action against your web site.

In February, a major floral company was penalized over advertorials. And now Matt Cutts is making it crystal clear by posting Google's guidelines on it:

Google Advertorial Guidelines

I covered this in more detail over at Search Engine Land.

There are folks saying, well - what about video content? Product placement. Do those have to be disclosed for users? I assume Matt would say yes. But product placement in videos do not manipulate Google's algorithms, at least not yet.

Forum discussion at Google+.

Previous story: How Do You Uncover Your Spammy Links?



05/30/2013 01:56 pm

So if you run Adsense on your blog, do you have to say "Advertisement" above the banners that show or can you just display the banners in the sidebar with no text saying its an advertisement? All ads from Adsense have the "Adchoice" label on them so it seems like people would know those are ads, which means we shouldn't have to say advertisement. What's your take on that?


05/30/2013 02:07 pm

The amount of spam from so called marketers, asking to place guest articles, increased drastically lately. Seems, that Google finally trapped well known content spam bays, like ezinearticles and squidoo. Another good news for the industry. Guest article ... ? Common, this is pure advertising, must be paid as an advertising and must be marked as an advertising. Absolutely agree with MC. Marketers, you're welcome with the reasonable offers.


05/30/2013 02:11 pm

"You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile"


05/30/2013 02:16 pm

I.E. We want you to pay for adwords


05/30/2013 02:31 pm

Yup, advertising must be paid.

Jim Christian

05/30/2013 02:42 pm

Man I can't wait for SMX Advanced! I half expect a bunch of villagers with pitchforks and torches to be present.

Graham Ginsberg

05/30/2013 03:20 pm

LOL Cutts talking about users getting angry. Pewey. Take a look at which is a typical property page and find the Google Adwords widget on the lower right side of the page. There is absolutely NO indication this is a paid advertisement. Its Google's and its very much paid, so why doesn't Google practice what they preach?

Graham Ginsberg

05/30/2013 03:23 pm

See my comment above about and their Adwords. Who the heck in the general public understand what adwords, adsense, adchoice means? If Google practiced what they preached, those ads would clearly, in BOLD, say "ADVERTISEMENT PAID BY GOOGLE KING OF PAID ADVERTISING AND BACKLINKS"


05/30/2013 03:51 pm

Because those ads on the side of the screen, and repeat this with me: Do. Not. Pass. PageRank. And that isn't what it being discussed in this video anyway. Paid links inside advertorials/native advertising are different things than PPC ad content on the side/top/bottom of the screen. His bit about disclosure, clear and easily identifiable disclosure, is about writing and/or posting paid-for articles without making it clear to the user that those articles were paid for. He also makes brief mention of a well-established and long-lived guideline: Paid for links should carry the nofollow tag. This has nothing to do with PPC ads, which is what you are currently talking about. But don't worry, your comment is negative towards Google, ill-informed, and off will get more upvotes then you can handle. Refusal to learn, onward!


05/30/2013 03:55 pm

AdSense on your blog has nothing to do with what the video was talking about. Those ads are a different thing than advertorials/native advertising and those adsense ad links do not pass page rank. I would imagine that there are some adsense guidelines for how and where you place them, but I have no experience with that. I would recommend you search your question at the AdSense Google Group and if you don't find your answer there, to start a new topic and ask. Ignore Grahams response, his comment has nothing to do with your question or the video your question was in response to.

Mohnesh Kohli

05/30/2013 04:04 pm

Now paid blog posting will also fall under this category.

Graham Ginsberg

05/30/2013 04:24 pm

How much is Google paying you or do you do 'other' favors in return for your blind support? Oh, pls don't answer, I don't care


05/30/2013 04:25 pm

Why do you say that? You can still pay and be paid all you want, but the links pointing to the writer must be nofollow. It makes sense if the goal is to cut down on spam: Assume you are paying someone to post on their blog. You are paying this writer because they have something insightful/interesting to say and you feel your readers would enjoy the experience. Great! The link back to the writer is allowed all you want as long as you make sure to add the nofollow, and that makes sense. The person you paid receives traffic from your thoroughly engaged and interested readership and any suspicion of manipulating the rankings are moot. This is a great success and everyone is happy. The only people who wouldn't benefit are those who are paying blog owners/webmasters to post their article and include a do follow link in an attempt to game the system.


05/30/2013 04:32 pm

Matt Cutts personally delivers to me a check worth .05% of the stolen income from webmasters around the world. And how is my comment 'blind support'? You were stating something that has nothing to do with the topic and was a misstatement regardless. I came to this blog when I started out and I appreciate the service it provides; why shouldn't I address the misinformation so others just-starting-out aren't led astray by the persistently misinformed?

Craig Hamilton-Parker

05/30/2013 05:17 pm

Sorry if this sounds a bit stupid but would Amazon affiliate book links be classed as a 'paid for link' and need a rel=nofollow? Indirectly it is paid for as both Amazon and I are making a revenue from the sale of a book?

Randy Savage

05/30/2013 05:52 pm

Hahahaha - or else what Matt Cutts, you NERD! can't wait til someone recognizes you on the street and bit** slaps you! Google full of a bunch of nerdy GREEDY dorks! Hahahaha, what a dousche :)

Hulk Hogan

05/30/2013 05:54 pm

yeah, wait is that a ring on his finger? Wow he's married, can't wait til' she divorces him for all he has.... LOL Google preeches American Greed, wait til' the other side of America takes him for all he's worth with a divorce....


05/30/2013 06:03 pm

ethalon and anti-seo - get a LIFE! NERDS....


05/30/2013 07:47 pm NERDS!!!1!


05/30/2013 08:07 pm

Hahaha, wow ur a Dork ethalon - get any pu$$y lately? wait you don't need to answer.....


05/30/2013 09:39 pm

What about sponsorships? Major companies sponsor .edu's, .org's and others and get a link in return. These are still paid links just in a more round about way. Shouldn't these be nofollow too?

Jaimie Sirovich

05/30/2013 11:11 pm

Doesn't he also say "Clear and conspicuous" disclosure to readers? If so, I don't think AdSense is clear and conspicuously disclosed as advertising.

Jaimie Sirovich

05/30/2013 11:12 pm

Doesn't he also say "Clear and conspicuous" disclosure to readers? If so, I don't think AdSense is clear and conspicuously disclosed as advertising. Do you?


05/30/2013 11:41 pm

Let me help you understand. AdSense does . Not . Pass . PageRank.


05/30/2013 11:42 pm

Of course they do, they're a business, right?


05/30/2013 11:44 pm

Adsense doesn't pass page rank , irrelevant comment.


05/31/2013 12:46 am

Guest post requests increased dramatically thanks to Matt. Do you not recall the green light from Matt on guest posts?

Jaimie Sirovich

05/31/2013 12:46 am

Whom are you talking to? I didn't say it did. If you watch the video, Matt Cutts is trying to make it about some sort of advertising ethics to make what he says convincing. Google is not practicing what they preach. Their ads do not conspicuously state that they are ads.

Jaimie Sirovich

05/31/2013 12:48 am

I never said it did. Watch the video. Matt is trying to characterize advertorials without disclosure _in general_ as an ethical problem. I'm not talking about pagerank.


05/31/2013 12:50 am

Comment isn't irrelevant because Google should only care whether the links are follow or no follow. The point was whether your links are confusing Google's algo. Now it's no longer about that - it's about what Google sees as being ethical.


05/31/2013 12:56 am

A no follow link is the same - no pagerank is being passed. In the past it was about not confusing the algo. This is more about what Google sees as being ethical. IMO they are taking things way too far and now by trying to instill their beliefs.

Ann Smarty

05/31/2013 02:43 am

Why is it always about PageRank? I thought Google kept saying PEOPLE were the ones they really cared about. And Matt also says that for It should be clear to your readers that this is a paid story by labeling it advertisement or sponsored story. So non-existent disclosure on AdSense IS against their own rules, right?

anti anti

05/31/2013 02:57 am

ehtnalon you ignored the full disclosure to readers.. that's how biased you are

Soni Sharma

05/31/2013 04:47 am

Google shouldn't care about paid dofollow links it should not pass values to Advertorial links. As I think Advertorial links are not part of Spam it is general internet marketing practice. If someting going wrong with algo due to Advertorials google should manipulate its algo.


05/31/2013 05:29 am

I am in doubt if paid Press releases will also be treated as paid links?

Alan Smith

05/31/2013 07:26 am

What about Paid and High Quality PR,Guest Post, Local listing Directories etc. ??? Please Help


05/31/2013 10:20 am

Here is how to do it.


05/31/2013 11:21 am

How did you find out those links were paid if it wasn't disclosed. I wonder...


05/31/2013 11:27 am

Nothing to doubt about, if you use nofollow. Press release will still be press release, if you use nofollow. You want the Press release, right ? )


05/31/2013 11:56 am

Just make sure those places you wish to submit to are high quality, the content isn't added by the user, and that the site uses the nofollow on its links. Hell, the sites could be terrible quality and ran by an eight year old and as long as those links are nofollow you will not suffer any sort of penalty. Those links are supposed to be for driving traffic, if you are attempting to game the system by finding a small crack in the foundation you are going to get crushed eventually. Go and watch the video again, and read the guidelines over at Google as well. Linking isn't as mystical and dangerous as everyone seems to try and make it.


05/31/2013 12:02 pm

The clear and conspicuous line is about advertorial/native advertising. PPC ads, while still advertising, are completely different. I am not sure how else to say it without repeating myself, perhaps I am not as clear as I try to be.


05/31/2013 12:03 pm

What? I don't understand what you are referencing.

Yepi Didi

05/31/2013 02:09 pm

thank a lot

Mike Kalil

05/31/2013 03:30 pm

The burden should be on the press release distribution site for that.


05/31/2013 04:05 pm

There's a good chance you should go end your life...You are the plague of the earth. PS: You spelt douche douche.


05/31/2013 04:14 pm

In the video he mentions that not only should ad's not pass page rank, it should be clear to users that they are paid. I think the point being made here is those ad's arn't transparent to the user. Although you could argue the term 'Featured Partners' implys this.


05/31/2013 05:44 pm

The burden is 100% on the person submitting the article to the press release site. Finding out if the site tags the links nofollow is incredibly simple and doing your due diligence is a part of being successful.

Webstats Art

05/31/2013 06:21 pm

I used to deliver ads long before adwords came about. Remember folks, Google did not invent the internet although they act like they own it right now.

Mike Kalil

05/31/2013 07:08 pm

So using PRNewsWire and PRWeb is out, since they both don't nofollow contextual links? Come on. Marketers should find lesser known sites, with limited distribution channels, that nofollow their links instead?

Durant Imboden

06/01/2013 04:41 pm

Google's ads don't pass PageRank.


06/01/2013 09:04 pm

The original idea of nofollow was to use it only if you aren't sure about the trustworthiness of the site you're linking to - a bit like "here's some more info, though I can't 100% vouch for this site's trustworthiness" - the nofollow was purely to let search engines know that. If you DO trust the site you're linking to, then you don't need to use nofollow. Notice I didn't mention if the link is "paid" or not - the original concept of nofollow was purely about TRUST. Now you're basically saying nofollow everything just to be safe. You clearly don't understand the concept of nofollow.


06/01/2013 09:06 pm

I'm sorry, I must have missed the bit where you say Google know if an article features a paid link or a link given out freely - can you fill me in on that?


06/01/2013 11:31 pm

No follow links in advertorials don't pass PageRank.

Richard Els

06/02/2013 09:13 am

I can't see how their algorithm would be able to distinguish between editorial vs. advertorial dofollow links so I think unless you have a prominent site that could be at risk of a manual penalty I think this video is just deliberate scaremongering by Google...

Friv 2

06/03/2013 01:45 am

If you DO trust the site you're linking to, then you don't need to use nofollow.


06/03/2013 04:53 am

is it for press releases websites also who provides back links?

Mark Smith

06/03/2013 11:26 am

I believe that no body has clear idea about no-follow links. I do believe that it has enough role for seo. I am a member of seo seattle and I have seen no-follow links are good if we take links from reputed websites. Now Google prefer authority site. Authority sites have huge value. My suggestion to all my friends if they want to take no follow links they must maintain few rules. Must take a link from authority sites and must take at-least pr2-p3 websites.

Friv 4

06/03/2013 04:19 pm

i think ads good for visit. but it not good for seo. use nofollow can help trust your site.


06/03/2013 06:22 pm

I think most people can see "adwords, adsense and adchoice" and understand that the first two letters indicate advertising. The full page advertisements that look like a real article are a whole different thing. They exist in printed publications too, and always have a notice that they are paid ads. The smaller, more obvious ads in your newspaper don't really need a label stating it is an advertisement for you to know it is an ad, do they?

friv 2 friv 3 friv 4

09/25/2013 05:04 pm

If you DO trust the site you're linking to, then you don't need to use nofollow

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