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The recent update to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations Act has garnered much attention in advertising circles for its potential to cause havoc with current buzz marketing practices (practices that, arguably, fall under the stealth marketing umbrella and are therefore already illegal but thats another issue entirely).

However, the implications for optimisation and paid search marketing as disciplines appear to have passed most SEM & SEO professionals by.

The updated act will outlaw practices such as paid reviews (against Google’s guidelines admittedly but not a criminal offence…until now), paid blogging and other similar grey area promotion tactics.

To a lesser extent exponents of SEM will have to keep a closer eye on what they do in future too, particularly in relation to the use of adverts that may, or may not (depending on interpretation), contravene the regulations contained within the Acts section on Prohibition of Unfair Commercial Practices.

Another area where trouble could really be brewing is the future treatment of affiliates, who could be in contravention of the act if they fail to identify business relationships clearly enough. This, perhaps more than any other issue for paid search, has the potential to be a real can of worms.

One thing is clear, however; those involved in our industry would do well to familiarise themselves with the act, which can be found here.

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