It’s true that obtaining links, organic or inorganic, is an effective way to improve search rankings. This is why many companies send free products to bloggers in exchange for links to their website, social media accounts, or any other pages associated with them. This is a win-win situation for both the bloggers and the sponsors, but Google reminded them to stay compliant with the guidelines.
In a webmaster blog, Google shares some best practices for bloggers writing reviews in exchange for free products. The search giant wants bloggers to do the following:
- Nofollow the link when linking to the company’s site or any other pages the company asked them to provide links to
- State clearly that they’re writing the content (review) because the company gave them the product for free
- Ensure that the content is unique, compelling, useful, and valuable
Why Is It Important?
Google is smart enough to distinguish organic (naturally earned) links from paid ones or those obtained by offering free products. Typically, Google just ignore these purchased links, but if businesses keep doing it, they may put their reputation and ranking on the line.
Some articles encourage businesses to send free products to bloggers and ask for a review. According to the authors, this is a good way to get links, boost the company’s web presence, gain authority, and increase rankings. But that’s not what Google’s Quality Guidelines say.
The guidelines clearly state that “exchanging goods or services for links” is an example of a link scheme that can affect a site’s ranking.
What Are the Risks?
Google encourages companies to remind bloggers to follow the guidelines. Those who are not using the best practices may receive manual actions penalties or face a Google demotion.
It pays to follow the rules. Don’t risk everything you’ve worked hard for. Instead, look for effective ways to obtain natural links. A Denver Internet marketing company, for example, can help you find better alternatives.