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Google News and Sponsored Content

Google wants to keep sponsored content out of Google news.

From the Google News blog: “If a site mixes news content with affiliate, promotional, advertorial, or marketing materials (for your company or another party), we strongly recommend that you separate non-news content on a different host or directory, block it from being crawled with robots.txt, or create a Google News Sitemap for your news articles only. Otherwise, if we learn of promotional content mixed with news content, we may exclude your entire publication from Google News.”

This is in the least bit surprising. When I'm looking for news items on Google (Google News), I have no intention of reading what a brand has to say about itself or some of its products. At best, I can read it to compare the claims with the other (potentially) unbiased articles about the same brand out there. Otherwise, that piece of content is very similar to an ad. Obviously, Google wants to make the user experience the best possible, so it is looking to leave out sponsored content in news. Makes perfect sense.

So why is this news?

It changes the dimensions of content marketing.

Brands need to be a lot more prudent in deciding what they get out through media channels as content. It is important to stay away from self-promotional articles and focus on delivering content that provides value to the readers. How many people buy The Wall Street Journal for its advertisements? They buy it for its unbiased articles that are born out of verifiable facts.

It is all about credibility.

At the end of the day, the reader-base for the content being put out must believe in the credibility of the source. If a brand indulges too much in self-promotional activities in the garb of content marketing, then it is not content marketing, but just another form of traditional advertising. It is essential for brands to earn credibility as a provider of value content, for content marketing to work the way it is expected to.

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