As some of you already may be aware Matt Cutts has recently tweeted a reminder to all webmasters highlighting that Google’s paid link guidelines also apply to “advertorial” pages.
Reminder: Google's guidelines on paid links that pass PageRank also apply to "advertorial" pages. See goo.gl/PhwsY for more info.
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) February 22, 2013
Before we go into more detail I thought it would be useful to have a quick primer on advertorials and their uses.
What is an Advertorial?
According to Wikipedia “An advertorial is advertisement in the form of an editorial”. In the case of websites for printed media they often link back to the site or product they are endorsing. Quite often you will notice the words advertisement or another caveat informing the reader that it is an advert.
Where can you get Advertorials? dly
Most national, regional and magazine sites in the UK offer advertorial features.
Why where advertorials used for SEO?
Due to printed media sites being viewed as authoritative by the search engines and having high traffic levels, links off these sites have been viewed as the holy grail of linkbuilding. Publishers in turn started to recognise these benefits and offered Advertorials as a cost effective way to feature on their sites in a controlled manner.
Should your brand be using Advertorials?
This really depends on the nature and goals of your campaign. If the objective of the campaign is to drive traffic to your site and build awareness of your product and service, with SEO being a secondary consideration then advertorials could form a part of your marketing mix. The key question is whereabouts the advertorial is going to appear on the site. If it’s buried quite deep in an obscure site section the chances are not many people are going to see it. Alternatively if you are happy to pay for a more prominent position on the site then the greater your chances of success.
If one of your goals is increased SEO visibility then the answer is more likely to be a no. As Google point out in their blog post any paid links from within an advertorials should really be using the rel=”nofollow” attribute.
Shouldn’t I just be investing in PR and Social Media?
If one of your primary goals is also increased SEO visibility and social media traction online PR done in the right way can be a very affective. From a SEO and Social Media perspective any links or citations you receive would be earned so your site will receive their benefit.
However this approach does require more planning and effort to develop stories that are genuinely newsworthy. You also need to invest time in developing relationships and marketing your stories through social media.
My brand has used advertorials in the past should I be worried?
Again the key consideration here is the intent and extent to which your brand has previously used advertorials. If the intent was for purely for SEO and their use widespread there could potentially be issues further down the line. However correlation does not equal causation. Sometimes it’s best to take a step back and do a risk analysis of all of your SEO activity to ensure your site is compliant with Google’s webmaster quality guidelines.
Haven’t we seen this before?
Google’s crusade on paid links is certainly set to continue. And their latest announcement is not the first time they’ve offered specific guidelines on a particular link building technique. Those of you old enough may remember Google going to war with directories way back in 2007!
But is it safe to use Advertorials?
As long as you use the rel=”nofollow” attribute and disclose the paid nature of the article. There shouldn’t be any issues.
Finally as ever we’d recommend a common sense approach when judging the value of any technique and a balanced approach when formulating a link building strategy.