It’s common practice for bloggers to be approached about reviewing things with a follow link to the product or service page, or for linking to something for some cash.
But what are do-follow and no-follow links?
Follow or do-follow links are likes that pass page rank. Websites want this because it’s good for how high they get positioned in Google. Google has many ways of selecting which pages to bring to the front page when a query is searched, one of those ways is how many links the website has and how good are those websites that are being linked from.
A no-follow link is a way of being able to link to a site or page, but telling Google not to pass page rank. So from an SEO point of view, the link is useless. Although it can still get traffic to the site if your audience click on it.
I’ve always been really relaxed about giving brands do-follow links when I review something. This isn’t something that they always ask me to do, but I’ll do-follow it if I do really like a product or service.
There were never any clear guidelines around reviews. It’s always been clear that Google does not want paid links. But etiquette around reviews has always been a bit vague.
That was until this March, when Google posted on their site that no-follow links should be used when working with brands for product reviews.
Bloggers should use the nofollow tag on all such links because these links didn’t come about organically (i.e., the links wouldn’t exist if the company hadn’t offered to provide a free good or service in exchange for a link). Companies, or the marketing firms they’re working with, can do their part by reminding bloggers to use nofollow on these links.
The article also states that all reviews should be disclosed, preferably at the top of the post in case the reader didn’t read it all.
Not only have Google warned bloggers about this, but they’ve started issuing some bloggers with a manual spam action that means Google doesn’t trust any link on their site. Basically, this makes your whole site no-follow – so any link on your blog is worthless. There is an option to change all unnatural links to do-follow and request the penalty to be removed.
Google is doing this because they want all links to be natural and organic, so only the best results get to the top. This is so when somebody Googles something, they’re getting the best quality results, not the result of something rubbish that someone has paid loads of sites to link to. This ensures that Google stays the mores reliable search engine out there.
So why am I still getting asked to give do-follow links?
This is something that I can’t figure out. It’s been months since Google announced this and I’ve seen many articles about it on technology and blogging sites. I have friends that work in SEO and PR and they’re all aware of the changes, so it’s likely most others in the industry are too.
Yet I’m still getting asked to sell links.
I’m still getting asked to review something in exchange for a link. Or agreeing to review something, then afterward being asked to change my link from a no-follow to a do-follow.
I would expect most SEO’s are just risking it – putting their client’s site at risk as long as our blogs. Or the person the brand has employed to do outreach isn’t experienced. Or maybe it’s a new business and the owner has read articles on link building and thinks it’s okay.
When I went to the Bloggers Brunch at the start of July, one of their SEO experts spoke about it. They’re aware of the rules, they’re aware of the fact that they putting bloggers sites and clients sites at risk. When asked why companies still ask for follow-links, she basically implied that they’re idiots. They either aren’t clued up or just want to risk it anyway.
I’ve thought a lot about this and from now on, I’ll be no-following everything I review. I’m not willing to put myself at risk anymore.
I think eventually it will be requested less and less.
I’d love to know your thoughts on this and if you’re still getting asked for follow links in exchange for reviews or cash.