aimClear Founder Marty Weintraub seems to have uncovered what he calls "the greatest ranking algorithm gap in years, allowing marketers to literally buy their way into Google search results with paid content."
While publishers are not breaking any rules, this loophole in Google's guidelines allows advertorial content to index in Google News, Weintraub insists.
Search results for specific keywords that aimClear often uses to describe its business -- such as "psychographic targeting," on Mashable or Search Engine Journal, among others -- suggest otherwise. Yes, the advertorials serve on Google Web and Google News. In fact search on keywords that any brand, such as Lean Cuisine, uses to describe itself to see if they have advertorials running in Google News.
The credibility of the publishers help the advertorials to post high in the rankings on both Google Web and Google News. It's a big deal for a publisher to get an article to publish on the home page of Google News, but apparently advertisers are able to buy their way onto the front page based on the credibility of the publisher.
Perhaps, as he says, it all comes down to the "no-follow" or "do-follow" rule, code within the content on the Web page that tells the search engine what to index.
Google's guidelines say that someone cannot pay a publisher for a page that houses "do-follow" links.
"If you could, why mess around with SEO when you can just buy it?" Weintraub says. "You just need to include a do-follow link in the native content."
Advertorials, also known as native content, are prohibited from indexing in Google News, and the engine has made it clear they can and will delist the publication from search results.
Publishers are breaking Google's rules with paid content. While Google does not allow advertorial pages with paid links, there is nothing in guidelines that says if the advertorial content includes no-follow links it cannot index. The publisher takes responsibility to remove them.
The wording in Google's guidelines is somewhat convoluted. You cannot have a paid editorial page that includes do-follow links appear in Google News, but Google does allow advertorials to index in Google Web search when the links are made no-follow.
Weintraub explains here, including detailed guidelines and FTC disclosure rules.