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Google Tightens Best Practice Rules for Sponsored Blogs

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On Friday, Google published a three-point list of guidelines for bloggers who receive free goods in return for reviews. Their aim was to clarify what constituted a paid link scheme and how bloggers can avoid penalties by following their list of “best practices.” This list is intended for bloggers who are given a product by a company in exchange for a review, which is often a favourable one. Obviously, Google has seen people using this as a loophole to build inorganic links and are taking action to close it. Generally, whenever they release a set of rules around a specific practice they tend to come down hard on those who don’t fall in line.

The new guidelines are:

Tag the links as nofollow

If you receive a product in exchange for a review and within this review is a link back to the supplier’s website, then this is considered a paid link. These contravene the Google guidelines regarding link schemes and may attract a penalty if they are not correctly tagged as nofollow. Tagging as nofollow will diminish the value of the link and prevent the crawlers from using it as a ranking factor for the product supplier’s site. This point in itself may close the door on blogging for free products for many people.

Disclosure

When money (or products) are accepted as payment for a piece of work, then the blogger must state this in the review. Users have a right to know when they are reading sponsored content and a failure to inform them may be a breach of your country’s laws, and may incur more than just a Google site penalty. Online reviews have become a valuable resource for consumers, with many basing their decision to buy on the reviews they find at the top of the SERP rankings. Google considers it important to inform them that what they are reading is not necessarily impartial.

Create unique content

Beyond the technical aspects, Google will reward your site if the content created around the item you have been given is unique and compelling. Using your expertise, based on your familiarity with the product or service, you should create insightful and informative content. Google aims to have only the best sites ranking on their front page, so building a reputation as an authority in your field will be the best way to convince their algorithms of your site’s value.

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By Aaron Matthews


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