On March 11, Google published a notice on their Webmaster blog that any blogger who receives any free or gifted products from brands or manufactures should follow some “best practices” so that they won’t end up getting penalized by Google.
The reason that Google has stated the above is because the company has been seeing bloggers write up posts talking about products which link to the supplier of the products in exchange for the free product.
To make sure visitors to your site know that the blog post that you are creating is essentially sponsored (for free products and services), Google wants you to do three things:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
More often than not, when Google publishes best practices around nofollow usage, Google will send out manual acction penalties for folks who doesn’t practice them weeks later. So make sure you follow the above rules when blogging about the free stuff that brands give you.