Newspapers & advertorials
Advertorial links were made famous by Google’s Matt Cutts’ very public outing of UK-based SEO companies. In the past large quantities of paid advertorials within UK newspaper websites, which contained followed links, were being brought.
It was also possible at one time to purchase text based links within existing UK newspaper articles.
In part, this practice proliferated as the newspaper sites were thought of as being trusted ‘seed sites’ by Google.
These links are in breach of the Google Webmaster Guidelines as they are paid links, and action must be taken if they are present. These types of links are often used as examples for failed reconsideration requests.
The majority of the manipulative links in advertorials have now been marked as nofollow, and you are unlikely to be able to get them removed, even if you wanted. As these links have been marked as nofollow, they do not breach the Google Search Quality guidelines anymore.
However, you can still find high authority websites which fit in to this category of advertorial links, which haven’t yet had links marked as nofollow. If a link looks like it was a paid advertorial, then it should be marked as nofollow, or alternatively the link should be removed.
In addition it is recommended that you Disavow these links at URL level, so that Google can discount their influence on your backlink profile quickly. This is sometimes very necessary as the pages where advertorials are located are deep in the structure of the site and have few crawlable links pointing to them; they were never really designed to have users reading them, just the search engines. Failure to disavow at URL level means that any links on that same domain which are editorially gained now or in the future will not pass Page Rank. This will hamper organic search performance.
Example of an Advertorial link
This is an example of an advertorial link which is still a followed link. Notice the clear signals that this content (and importantly links) were paid for.
Any followed link which has been paid for is in breach of the guidelines; even if the text ‘advertorial feature’ doesn’t exist on the page, the copy is advertorial in writing style. The words “Info brought to you by…” is another clear signal that this link should be removed or nofollowed and added to the disavow file.