If you’re a travel, food, product, hotel or lifestyle blogger and you have been receiving free gifts or accommodation or meals in return for a positive or favourable written blog with an internal link back to the providors website then things are about to change and they will change for the worse. Depending on how you look at it.
What has been going on in the past for example is say 1 company will offer free goods or services to a writer and in exchange they expect to receive a story or article written in glowing terms about this product or service. It makes perfect sense. Obviously you are giving something free to someone and in return you expect to get a glowing 5 star, out of this world recommendation. This has been going on for years and has blossomed into a huge industry known as travel or food bloggers. Many people make their living this way or travel around the world for free getting accommodation and goodies given to them free as they make their way around the world writing positive, very supportive, feel good content about their sponsors as they go on their merry way.
Google has woken up to this and has this type of content marketing, article writing and sponsored blogs in their cross hairs. Essentially a link from one of these travel blogging websites is now deemed as a paid link and can result in some type of Google penalty or manual action.
If you are reading this article and your a travel blogger, you are probably thinking that your world of free travel is about to end as you sip on your morning cappuccino in some exotic city, about to write a nice juicy article in payment for the lovely free room you had last night. Well be warned guys because the free ride may soon be coming to an end.
Now before you start panicking and thing that you are going to have to come home and get a real job, there are ways around this. So you can still enjoy the perks of being a jetsetter whilst also being totally Google compliant.
Follow these tips and you should be fine:
# 1 You will have to put what is called a ‘no follow’ tag on the article you write. This will discourage Google from indexing this page. This is a real bummer and may end up shutting this industry down as the purpose of this page is so Google does index it and passes not only the link juice onto the supplier or sponsor but the page gets read by all your follows. Essentially a no index/no follow will stop this from happening. This article will only get read by avid followers of your site. This is in someway helpful to the sponsor, depending on how many people come to your site.
# 2: When a free gift is given by a sponsor for a reciprocal blog this must be disclosed in the article. Readers have a right to know, in fact they should know that you got something for free in return for this content. Online reviews and ratings constitute a large part of the consumers buying decision, so Google wants and demands full disclosure.
# 3 Make sure the description or report your write is unique and based on your expertise around using this product or service. If you spend the time wring content that is informative and great reading then you will be rewarded. Google will only display the best content on it’s home page for it’s own readers.
I know this is quite alarming news for some people. But, Google have just announced this and I thought that you should all know what’s going on. I suggest you do your own research if you are in this space to confirm this but if there is a loophole in the system that can somehow be manipulated fraudulently then Google will most certainly tighten its noose on this.