In order to improve the quality of the web and most importantly, lead by example, Google should:
- Add rel=”sponsored” or nofollow to its past and current sponsored links through webmaster outreach
- Create a company-wide policy for the use of rel=”sponsored”
- Educate staff and communicate across all its departments with particular care to include its sales and business development teams
- Monitor and ensure the ongoing adoption and future use of rel=”sponsored” and rel=”nofollow” where appropriate
A simple query such as this one reveals numerous instances of Google sponsoring various entities for both commercial and non-commercial context. And while we don’t question Google’s best intentions here, there have been instances where Google’s business development team sponsored events which resulted in “do follow” links.
Here’s a sample of Google’s sponsored links found using the edu variant of the above query:
As somebody who’s recently been put through a nightmare and successfully cleaned up my own sponsored links of the past, I expect Google to do the same.