This week Google warned bloggers about an upcoming change its going to make. Starting right now, if you review products on your blog, you must put the ‘nofollow’ tag on all your backlinks to the item’s page. Any bloggers who fail to do this will see their rankings drop as Google punishes their site.
What Google failed to do was to warn brands about the same change in the rankings. Google doesn’t just punish the bloggers when this happens, it punishes the brand as well. Google’s view is that your backlinks should exist for the purposes of sales, not for rankings or gaming the system.
Google sees every backlink as a vote for your site. They claim that when a blogger reviews a product and creates a link between your product and their link, that’s not a natural occurrence. In their eyes, they say it’s equivalent to having a paid link. A quid pro quo, in other words.
Now, I don’t agree with them and here’s why.
Go to the website of any respected institution such as a university or a work association. Most of these institutions offer paid memberships. They may be called supporters or legacies or something else, but they are basically a way to pay to put yourself on a list. And the university or association always has a list of supporters somewhere on their site, all with appropriate links to the supporters’ pages. All perfectly legal, in Google’s eyes, but somehow they object to a blogger reviewing a product.
We all know Google makes its own rules. All we can do is keep current and change when it’s needed.
Check your links with bloggers to make sure they are all ‘nofollow’ links. They’re easy to do and take just seconds, but your rankings will be safe.
For more information, visit the StewArt Media website.
Until next time.
Jim Stewart is a leading expert in search engine optimisation. His business StewArt Media has worked with clients including Mars, M2 and the City of Melbourne.