In a sign that Google is keeping a very close eye on bloggers who write reviews in return for free products, the search engine giant has recently released a set of guidelines outlining “best practice” for blogger outreach marketing campaigns.
Published on their webmaster blog, the post outlines how bloggers and companies alike can ensure that their content is useful and compliant with Google’s guidelines so they can avoid penalties.
It’s been common practice for a while now for bloggers to write favourable reviews of products and link back to the supplier’s website and/or social media pages in return for free products. And as a growing number of companies choose this method to build inorganic links, Google has decided to crack down on those who don’t play by the rules.
Here’s a rundown of the latest guidelines:
Use the nofollow tag where appropriate
Bloggers must use the nofollow tag is they link back to a company’s website, social media pages, an online store that sells the product they are reviewing, third-party reviews of the product or the company’s app in an app store. This is because if a blogger receives a product in exchange for a review and links back to the supplier’s website, it’s considered a paid link. Tagging a link as nofollow means that Google’s crawlers won be able to use it as a ranking factor for the product supplier’s site.
Full disclosure of the relationship
Google says it best when they say that “users want to know when they’re viewing sponsored content”. Google recommends for bloggers to disclose any relationships at the top of their post, in case users don’t read the entire post. In some countries, it’s mandatory to disclose sponsored content, and for those that don’t, it is still considered best practice to disclose to readers when your content is not impartial.
Create compelling and unique content
We all know that Google places immense value on unique content that improves User Experience by being informative and engaging. For bloggers, this means they should endeavor to become the “go-to source of information in [their] topic area”. They should attempt to cover niche areas and provide readers with exclusive content that builds their website’s authority.
So there you have it! Make sure you follow the new guidelines and stay in-check with best-practice. If you need further advice or would like to find out about our content generation service, get in touch with a Digital Strategist on 0800 878 833 today!