While numerous free and paid content sites explore native advertising, or sponsored content, to raise revenues, Google News seems to be the one policing editorial integrity these days.
Google announced on its blog that it will block entire sites posting “affiliate, promotional, advertorial, or marketing materials (for your company or another party),” unless such content is separated from news. Google recommends hosting sponsored content on a different directory, blocking it from Google News bots by using robot.txts coding, or creating a Google sitemap for news articles only.
In my opinion, this is good news. While I think it’s fine to include sponsored content on a news site, I think readers should also be aware of what’s sponsored — advertorials shouldn’t be insidious.
Furthermore, Google’s restrictions are only for Google News. Sponsored content should still get indexed by Google Search, and most site visitors “google” through Search not News. (Interested in learning the difference between indexing for Google Search vs. Google News? Check out our Insider How-To below.)
And lastly, Google is restricting affiliate content, not affiliate links.
But this development may affect how much a publisher can charge for advertorial content. If the majority of eyeballs for sponsored content come through Google News, Google’s new restrictions may force you to reconsider your advertising rates. But, if the majority of sponsored content gets eyeballs either through on-site discovery or Google Search results, publishers should be unaffected.
Image (c) Spencer E Holtaway, via flickr.