March 17, 2016

Google Blogger Best Practices

Google Blogger Best Practices

On Friday, Google posted an update to their Webmaster Central Blog about best practices for bloggers reviewing free products they receive from companies. The post includes just 3 “best practices,” two of which are essentially common sense, but the bigger news here is that it Google is entering the conversation on sponsored content and how it should be viewed from a search engine perspective. The post specifically references bloggers reviewing free products, but in all likelihood this may apply to any blogger creating content for a brand in exchange for their product or service. Since the regulations on link building have evolved over the last few years, many marketers have begun to rely on blogger content to generate quality links to their websites. This has been a grey area with regards to organic referrals versus advertising as this content may not be paid for outright, but traded for. Attribution from a search engine perspective is often overlooked, but it appears it may have to be a consideration in the future. According to Google, bloggers and brands should abide by the following to avoid penalty:

  1. “Use the nofollow tag where appropriate” – meaning any link back to the company’s website or app, social presence, review site, or online merchant page should use nofollow to let Google know that the link was paid for and not earned organically. This is likely a frequent oversight, as many bloggers may not be familiar with nofollow tags and businesses would ideally like to gain some organic value from the content they are paying for. To learn more about the nofollow tag and how to implement it, check out Search Engine Land’s handy nofollow infographic.
  2. “Disclose the relationship” – meaning you should let users know that you have been paid or incentivized for your review. This is an obvious best practice and probably common sense for most bloggers (from an ethical perspective), but it is still good to keep in mind.
  3. “Create compelling, unique content” – again, one would hope that all companies and their hired bloggers would strive to create high-quality content for a positive and enriched user experience, but it doesn’t hurt to know that Google is watching.

With the rise of influencer management and blogging as an advertising channel, it is helpful to be reminded of how to play by the rules in this ever-changing landscape. While these best practices more directly apply to any eCommerce company utilizing bloggers to review and help sell their products, they should be taken into consideration by any brand procuring offsite content in exchange for goods or services – such as hotels trading room nights for write-ups. The Google blog post does not completely clarify the grey area of blogger content in the search engine landscape, but it is likely the start of a bigger conversation. Look out for more updates as we seek further insight from Google on concrete rules of play for bloggers and sponsored content.

At Delucchi Plus, we are constantly evolving our influencer and blogger management services to reflect changing policies, as well as seeking new SEO tactics to drive more Organic traffic for our clients. Contact us for more information about blogger outreach and best practices to ensure you’re getting the most out of your influencers while staying in-bounds.