Even though Google’s standpoint about sponsored or paid content is rather ambiguous, it may be worthwhile to observe what Google does or does not ‘allow’ in cases of sponsored content.
Incidentally, Google has already made it quite clear that they are not in favor of indexing sponsored content in Google News. Moreover, sites that mix promotional matter in their regular news content are also to be excluded from Google News forever.
The message that one gets out of it is not only very simple but relevant too – Google wants to avoid advertorial content that does nothing but promoting a brand’s message through paid media. And there is nothing wrong with it. As it is, there is enough bunkum that has been paid for and as a result, good honest content gets totally lost.
But what happens when a regular editorial content gets a sponsor treatment? For instance, if a blogger creates a medical write up on Viagra and have Pfizer sponsor the post and offers free samples? The blogger’s words are accepted as sexual health tips (only as much as erection is concerned) while the brand’s efficacy is fully recognized as an Internet issue where Google keeps mum! But wait a minute; there are other anomalies, too.
Whenever you open SERPs in regard to products or online internet services, you are sure to find the first three or four entries (before the fold) that are organic, while the rest are sponsored or paid content or simple ad that Google has accepted to promote business. But there is a difference – these ads are with Google, not within Google.
Believe it or not, there are bloggers galore who could not care less writing anything for a brand in exchange for regular sponsored content campaign. But do you know why they indulge in such sport? To share content, make recommendations or perhaps with a sense of helping their community reaching a solution which remains difficult to attain. If, however, you delve deeper you may find that the desire to help actually helps the blogger in building a loyal and trusted audience they would never deceive or disregard, for the sake of a positive review, even when the product or service seemed a crap.
On the flip side, brands know it only too well that the best way to meet customer needs is to listen to them. But because of the inborn mistrust of brands by consumers, like in-growing toe nails, this listening can only be leveraged through sponsoring a post, thereby allowing a blogger to write about the sponsor and his product or services and then monitor the feedback in course of time.
The only issue in hand, by and large, is Google’s Mathew Matt Cut’s reaction to this important matter.