Google to bloggers: Disclose & nofollow links when reviewing gifted products

Google issues new best practices to bloggers who receive free products. Is Google about to send out a new manual action for paid links in exchange for product reviews?

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Google has published on their webmaster blog a notice that bloggers who receive free or gifted products from brands or manufacturers should make sure to follow some “best practices” to ensure they do not get penalized by Google.

In short, Google clearly has seen bloggers write about products and link to the supplier of the products in exchange for the free product.

When you are given a product for free, and you write about the product, Google wants you to do three things:

(1) Nofollow the link, if you decide to link to the company’s site, the company’s social media accounts, an online merchant’s page that sells the product, a review service’s page featuring reviews of the product or the company’s mobile app in an app store.

(2) Disclose that you are writing this content because the company gave you the product for free. Google said, “Users want to know when they’re viewing sponsored content,” and sometimes there is a legal requirement to do so.

(3) Create compelling, unique content so that it adds value beyond what is out on the web. Google said you should “provide exclusive content that only you can create due to your unique expertise or resources.”

Often, when Google publishes best practices around nofollow usage, weeks later, Google sends out manual actions penalties for those who do not practice them. So be warned.


About the author

Barry Schwartz
Staff
Barry Schwartz is a technologist and a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics.

In 2019, Barry was awarded the Outstanding Community Services Award from Search Engine Land, in 2018 he was awarded the US Search Awards the "US Search Personality Of The Year," you can learn more over here and in 2023 he was listed as a top 50 most influential PPCer by Marketing O'Clock.

Barry can be followed on X here and you can learn more about Barry Schwartz over here or on her personal site.

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