Matt Cutts tells on Paid Reviews and Disclosure
Loren Baker says Google is Watching Paid Review Blogs that Pass PageRank and while we know about that already, Google Search Quality Engineer Matt Cutts explains why these paid posts should have a disclosure.
From the perspective of a problogger or SEO, many would argue that one must be very discreet about those paid posts. It’s gonna be pretty obvious to regular readers to easily spot which posts are paid and which ones are not. It’s up to the blogger or advertiser to decide whether that post should be disclosed, along with all the links peppered within.
In his example, Matt gives us an example about “radio surgery” and explains why, from a regular user perspective, undisclosed paid posts are ruining search results for search engines.
The posts themselves donâ€™t mention it, but entries like these often turn out to be what are known as â€œpaid posts.â€ That is, someone paid money in order to receive a review, and the paid review includes a link with the word â€œradiosurgery,â€ for example. There’s no disclosure inside these entries whether these posts are paid, nor do the posts use the nofollow attribute or some other mechanism so that search engines arenâ€™t affected.
Now Iâ€™m going to ask you to put on your regular user hat. If youâ€™ve just learned that you or a family member have a tumor, would you prefer that radiosurgery overview article from the Mayo Clinic, or from a site which appears to be promoting a specific manufacturer of medical equipment via paid posts?
In short, Google wants us to actually disclose paid reviews by putting a disclaimer/disclosure on the page and/or adding a “nofollow” tag. Fair enough.
But isn’t it that Google also penalizes people for participating in such practices? Will they really spare the ones who puts out disclosures or use the nofollow? How about those webmasters who have been doing this since 1995, way before Google even existed? Is the law of the cyberspace being controlled by Google now? No. Just 53.6% of it.
And, if you want to grab a bite of that market, you don’t have a choice but to follow by their own rules.