Google’s Rules For Sponsored Content: Nofollow, But Not Noindex

Google is always updating requirements for website administrators. One area the search giant highlighted this week was sponsored content. The company advises administrators to use a rel=nofollow tag on sponsored content, although a noindex may not be necessary.

Question about sponsored content

Google Webmasters responded to a tweet asking about sponsored content guidelines for publishers. The person asked about nofollow attributes for external links and wanted to know whether the content should also be blocked in robots.txt. Google offered this quick explanation:

Search Engine Roundtable explained that Google does require websites to clearly state that content is sponsored so readers don’t think it is editorial content. The company’s webmaster guidelines also state that external links included in sponsored content must be nofollow links. However, you don’t have to keep the search giant from indexing it entirely by adding a noindex tag. Nonetheless, some website administrators may wish to have Google skip indexing sponsored content, so that can be done by adding a noindex tag.

Google has published guidelines for linking here. The search giant prohibits links which are intended to manipulate PageRank or any site’s ranking in Google search results. Any content which includes links that pass PageRank are required to be nofollow links if they are external. PageRank is the Google algorithm used to rank pages in search results. The algorithm works by counting the number and quality of links to any particular page to determine how important it is.

Google’s guidelines for publishers can be found here. They simply state that paid or sponsored content should not outnumber your own content.