Google Nudges Bloggers: NoFollow and Disclose Sponsored Product Reviews
Its been a long time coming and now its here. Google has “nudged” bloggers and webmasters about the practice of sponsored product reviews and how to properly go about it.
In a new post on the Google Webmaster Tool blog, the search engine has laid down some ground rules when it comes to doing sponsored product reviews done by bloggers.
- Use the nofollow tag where appropriateLinks that pass PageRank in exchange for goods or services are against Google guidelines on link schemes. Companies sometimes urge bloggers to link back to:
- the company’s site
- the company’s social media accounts
- an online merchant’s page that sells the product
- a review service’s page featuring reviews of the product
- the company’s mobile app on an app store
Bloggers should use the nofollow tag on all such links because these links didn’t come about organically (i.e., the links wouldn’t exist if the company hadn’t offered to provide a free good or service in exchange for a link). Companies, or the marketing firms they’re working with, can do their part by reminding bloggers to use nofollow on these links.
- Disclose the relationshipUsers want to know when they’re viewing sponsored content. Also, there are laws in some countries that make disclosure of sponsorship mandatory. A disclosure can appear anywhere in the post; however, the most useful placement is at the top in case users don’t read the entire post.
- Create compelling, unique contentThe most successful blogs offer their visitors a compelling reason to come back. If you’re a blogger you might try to become the go-to source of information in your topic area, cover a useful niche that few others are looking at, or provide exclusive content that only you can create due to your unique expertise or resources.
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
Those are technical terms but here’s the gist:
- Bloggers need to disclose that this is a sponsored product review and that an exchange of goods or cash has occurred. Obviously I don’t want to divulge if there was payment involved; the same would go for other bloggers. Not that its wrong. It’s just iffy and given how “inggitero” and “mapanira” some bloggers are, its best to keep matters like this mum.
- Nofollow links should be given to links going to the product’s official website or any other places where information could be given.
- Content should be UNIQUE and NOT PLAGIARIZED.
WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?
- No Follow tagging for sponsored product reviews happen because in SEO terms, you’re giving a juicy link juice to the page. Crawls and indexing happen with links. Putting a “no follow” on the OBL or outbound link will tell crawlers to “fuck off” or “stay the hell away”.
- The entire announcement was due to Google FINALLY noticing that bloggers are another source of good SERPs for products as good as mobile phones and devices to nefarious stuff like drugs or online gambling.
- Some countries deem non-disclosure a no-no. Google just wants to be friends with everybody.
I’m guilty of this from time to time. Moving forward though, I’ll set an example for bloggers who want to do sponsored product reviews too.