With more and more news websites now embracing the culture of sponsored news content, Google has clamped down on the occurrences of these "advertorials" appearing in their Google News listings.
The search engine is growing ever concerned that these paid-for articles are becoming intertwined with regular news journalism in their Google News search listings, which could be classed as deceiving the user.
Google warns that news and sponsored content should be indexed separately on websites, and if some sites are found to be mixing their paid and non-paid articles, they could be in violation of Google's guidelines, and could be penalised.
In a post on the Google News blog yesterday, Richard Gingras, Senior Director of News and Social Products, writes: "Credibility and trust are longstanding journalistic values, and ones which we all regard as crucial attributes of a great news site. It's difficult to be trusted when one is being paid by the subject of the article, or selling or monetising links within an article.
"Google News is not a marketing service, and we consider articles that employ these types of promotional tactics to be in violation of our quality guidelines. Engagement in deceptive or promotional tactics such as those described may result in removal of articles, or even the entire publication, from Google News."
For websites that mix news content with "affiliate, promotional, advertorial or marketing materials (for your company or another party)", Google recommends that websites host their non-news content on a separate directory, blocking it from being crawled with robots.txt files, or create a Google News Sitemap for news articles only.
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