As a blogger, I often get asked to review items on my blog in exchange for the items itself. It’s common practice to disclose that as a blogger the post includes a free item. In fact FTC requires this. Today Google announced that all bloggers must use nofollow links on review items. While many do this already, it’s never been set in stone before, only implied. As the blog world grows by leaps and bounds, the parameters are being forced to become more clear.

In detail:

  1. Use the nofollow tag where appropriateLinks that pass PageRank in exchange for goods or services are against Google guidelines on link schemes. Companies sometimes urge bloggers to link back to:
    1. the company’s site
    2. the company’s social media accounts
    3. an online merchant’s page that sells the product
    4. a review service’s page featuring reviews of the product
    5. the company’s mobile app on an app store

    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.

  2. Disclose the relationshipUsers want to know when they’re viewing sponsored content. Also, there are laws in some countries that make disclosure of sponsorship mandatory. A disclosure can appear anywhere in the post; however, the most useful placement is at the top in case users don’t read the entire post.
  3. Create compelling, unique contentThe most successful blogs offer their visitors a compelling reason to come back. If you’re a blogger you might try to become the go-to source of information in your topic area, cover a useful niche that few others are looking at, or provide exclusive content that only you can create due to your unique expertise or resources.

What does this mean for bloggers?

In a nutshell, it means that your site can and will be dinged on Google’s search engine if you don’t disclose or may be removed from Google’s search engine altogether. FYI about Page Rank though – John Mueller (Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google) confirmed that there are NO plans to update Page Rank outside of Google, it’s only being used internally for the Google search team. Yes, bloggers. It’s officially dead to us.

What you can do…

There are several tools at your disposal for creating nofollow links:

  1. Without using a plugin: you can code each link manually:
    1. When in your post edit screen, click “text” in the upper right corner.
    2. find your link code – it will look like this: <a href=””>Anchor Text</a>
    3. Add rel=”nofollow” in the code like this: <a href=”” rel=”nofollow” >Anchor Text</a>
  2. WITH a Plugin
    1. You can use a plugin like Ultimate Nofollow which will add a radio button to you link screen:

Google To Bloggers – Nofollow Links Now Required For Reviewed Products & How To Fix Yours

While it’s not clear for any posts before the announcement, you can use a precaution by adding a nofollow code to every link (or select) with the plugin External Links.