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Google Blogger Best Practice – Free Product Reviews

By IMA on Mar 17, 2016

Link Building has been part of many SEO campaigns since the very dawn of Google. Over the years it has evolved from Bookmarks and Directory listings through to Blogger activity and so called Digital PR.

There are many different tactics which can be used to generate links for a site and one of the simplest is in the form of Product Reviews.

This is where, for example, an ecommerce site will send out products to bloggers and other influencers in their market to review and link back to the site that sent the product.

If an online retailer sends out 20 products per month, essentially they could receive 20 links back to their site each month.

Simple enough? Yes, of course it is which is why from Friday 11th of March 2016 Google posted on its Webmaster Central Blog a reminder of best practices for bloggers to follow.

Essentially Google is recommending that Bloggers writing a post should follow these guidelines:

  1. They should use the rel=”nofollow” tag where appropriate. This should be added to links that wouldn’t exist in a post if the company hadn’t sent the product in exchange for a link.
  2. Disclose the relationship. If the content of a blog post is sponsored in some way then this should be disclosed to the reader.
  3. Create compelling, unique content. If you are receiving a free product to review from a retailer more than likely other similar blogs to yourself will have also received the product. Google recommends that you keep content as compelling and unique as possible if you want to perform well in organic search.

Why have Google done this?

In my opinion it is down to Google clamping down on websites and companies who try to manipulate its algorithm to perform better. Product reviews are one of the easiest tactics for an SEO company to generate links for a client. Good quality links from influencers in a market can help to build authority to a domain and thus the domain will rank and perform better within the Organic Channel. However, over manipulation can lead to penalties and manual actions from Google against a site, which could significantly impact a sites organic performance for a considerable period of time.

I wouldn’t expect many individual bloggers to read or come across Google’s Webmaster Central Blog or even know what a rel=”nofollow” tag is, which really does highlight that the post was aimed at SEO agencies and other professionals who work within SEO.

With Google’s Penguin algorithm, which focusses on a websites backlinks, pending an update over the coming months this could be a gentle nudge to get your site in order.

For Further Reading and some other industry opinions on the subject please read: