OK Google, Please Nofollow Your Sponsored Links, Thanks

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:

  1. https://sloanreview.mit.edu/sponsors-content/why-a-data-and-analytics-strategy-today-gives-marketers-an-advantage-tomorrow/
  2. https://stemcenter.utexas.edu/sponsors-and-funders
  3. https://phet.colorado.edu/en/about/sponsors
  4. https://conference.mcn.edu/2018/sponsors.cfm
  5. https://law.yale.edu/isp/about/sponsors
  6. https://dpo.si.edu/sponsors
  7. http://dbp.tuck.dartmouth.edu/sponsorship/current-sponsors
  8. http://eurosys16.doc.ic.ac.uk/
  9. https://bocoup.com/blog/announcing-new-game-conference
  10. https://2019.linux.conf.au/sponsors/
  11. https://lca2019.linux.org.au/sponsors/
  12. https://zeus.ugent.be/events/09-10/tronbot-coding-marathon/
  13. https://www.fluxible.ca/fluxible-2018/sponsors/
  14. http://www.railsgirls.com/munich2015.html
  15. http://2010.jsconf.us/sponsors.html
  16. https://2010.djangocon.us/sponsors/

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.

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