Google Warns Bloggers, Brands Of Tainted Posts

Google has sent a clear message to bloggers. Disclose the relationship and don't link to brand Web sites in exchange for products or services mentioned in blog posts that could contribute to an increase in the brand's position in organic search listings on its engine when receiving a freebee. Bloggers must add the nofollow code to the link that prevents its crawler from giving the post too much, well, equity, the quality of being fare and impartial, which could push it to the top in search query rankings. 

The nofollow code prevents "equity" from being passed from the blogger to the brand through a link in the eyes of the search engine as it calculates the position of the brand's Web page in a query page. It centers around Google PageRank, one of the stronger ranking elements that Google uses to serve-up their results

This warning isn't new, but rather a reminder that bloggers are just as responsible as brands when it comes to transparency and making sure readers understand the relationship between the brand and the blogger, so recommendations and reviews after receiving a gift doesn't taint purchase decisions. It seems Google has decided to make a public statement, says David Harry, SEO strategist at Verve Developments. 

Harry knows at least one brand that has been penalized for bloggers linking to its Web site with targeted anchor text from a word after sending the blogger samples for review. "In was brownies, of all things," he explains. "Bloggers, being what they are, started linking back to the client with the anchor text "brownies" or "awesome brownies," although the client never asked for the link. It didn't matter. The brand was penalized.

Search marketers have long known that brands can get in trouble with targeted links from bloggers when sending out samples, but in this case Google decided to "flip the script, in the sense that they're now making it clear to bloggers that they can get in trouble for using clean links to companies when reviewing a product."

Google is "pointing the gun at the blogger, not just the company seeking a product review" letting them know both blogger and brand need to take responsibility of being transparent about the relationship as to not taint or sway the buying decision of consumer, Harry says. Rather simply lay out the facts to help consumers make the best decision for themselves.

The blogger should use nofollow code in the link pointing to the Web site page of the company that sent the product to test or review. Harry gives this example -- <a href="" rel="nofollow">great brownies</a> -- of the code to use.

It shouldn't be a problem if the blogger remains objective and honest about their relationship with the brand, similar to the way search engines and publisher sites need to identify sponsored content in search engine query results and news feeds. 

The Federal Trade Commission also requires bloggers to identify the relationship with a brand in its guidelines.

1 comment about "Google Warns Bloggers, Brands Of Tainted Posts".
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  1. Chuck Lantz from, network, March 14, 2016 at 5:03 p.m.

    If I'm reading this right, Google is trying to get away with being lazy, while using faulty robots.  

    Let's say that I plan to write and publish an article that includes a review or a mention of a certain type of widget, and I receive a sample widget to evaluate. If I follow simple journalistic guidelines, I'll mention in the article that I received the free widget. Once that's done, my obilgations as a writer/reviewer/journalist are complete.

    But if I choose to link any keywords the usual way, without the "nofollow" code, or if the auto-linking function used by most publishing engines doesn't include a choice between "normal" and "nofollow" links, the result is that Google's partially dumb crawler won't recognize any "I got a freebie for review" disclaimer text in my article, and we all get our wrists slapped by Google.  

    To me it makes much more sense for Google to prove guilt before handing-out punishment.  It shouldn't be hard to program their robots to react to words such as "disclaimer" or something like that in the article/review before bringing down the hammer. Google could then publicize the need to use those words when we publish, as long as our hands are clean, of course. Spot-checks by Google could be done to help stop cheaters who will certainly try to abuse the situation by sticking "disclaimer" into every blog. 

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