One of the best ways to market your product is to get it into the hands of influential industry bloggers, and have them review it or mention it in a blog post. Not only does this technique give your business and your products or services some credibility, it also provides links back to your web page along with additional traffic.
On the surface, it’s a pretty good idea. But Google recently issued guidelines for both businesses offering free goods in exchange for mentions, and bloggers writing posts for businesses.
Google’s Terms and Conditions
Google pointed out that businesses should make sure the bloggers nofollow any links they add to the products, as they’re not organic, according to Google. The search engine giant also adds that bloggers should disclose any affiliations with the businesses and state whether the post is a form of sponsored content.
With that, it seems Google is pointing out that links passing PageRank in exchange for goods are against the Google guidelines on linking schemes. That means if the search engine sees a relationship between the followed links and freebies, both the blogger and the business may suffer.
Google’s Only Hope
Google may seem like they’re stepping into a very grey area here, but they can’t tell the difference between organic and paid reviews so they’re asking bloggers to enforce this. For now, the only thing the search engine can do to keep the search results fair and balanced is to assume that any backlink-related promotional activity is an attempt to manipulate the results.
So while reaching out to bloggers for mentions is considered a legitimate marketing tactic, it is very much on Google’s radar. It may be a grey area but it’s Google’s way of showing that they’re serious, and to send a wake-up call to businesses.