3 habits that bloggers need to start adopting, ensuring they are keeping within Google's guidelines

Did you know that each year, Google changes its search algorithm around a whopping 500–600 times. While most of these changes are minor, Google occasionally rolls out a “major” algorithmic update (such as Google Panda and Google Penguin) which previously affected search results in a significant way.

Penguin was an algorithm update from Google in 2012 that gave SEO experts a shock to their system. Google began to penalise and decrease the rankings of sites that breach Google’s ‘Webmaster Guidelines’ set by the search engine. This included lowering the search engine rankings of all those sites that practice bad SEO techniques like duplicating content on various sites and keyword stuffing, i.e. producing a quantity of content that’s actually not quality.

Recent news seen on Search Engine Watch suggests bloggers will have to start adding NoFollow links to brand’s sites, social media and any sites selling the product in question.

So what does this mean to bloggers?

  • Bloggers should state when they are reviewing for a brand by treating any back links as paid links and NoFollow
  • They would need to begin disclosing the relationship between themselves and a brand i.e. you’re writing content because a brand has asked you to – treating any post as sponsored endorsement
  • Google has also reiterated that bloggers need to create compelling content not just reviewing products / experiences for freebies. The essence of quality content is ‘how to tell a good story’ 

We spoke to some of SGPR’s blogger friends who mentioned how they’ve been stung recently by the new guidelines.

One blogger is currently working off a ‘Google Manual Penalty’ as her blog provider didn’t work with ‘NoFollow links’ and so they have offered her a warning.

She has therefore had to change her blog to WordPress so she can manually input the ‘NoFollow links’. 

A Google penalty has a negative impact on a website’s search engine rankings, the more you get, the more Google punishes you.

Google has recently said that bloggers should include that they are endorsing a product by disclosing the relationship with the brand that they are working with.

One blogger we spoke to commented: “It is actually worse to include #Spon and follow links as it only makes Google notice you more and punish you for the freebies. Google is really cracking down on this and wanting everyone to invest in advertising space rather than advertising via follow links. Google is ‘not the only search engine’ and it’s important to note this.???

This is definitely a grey area to say the least but it’s something for all our blogger friends to watch out for in the coming weeks. Bloggers are advised and willing to give independent, honest reviews – some might be bad, some might be good. Therefore will all reviews be affected by this change?

The BIG question is, how is Google going to determine that all reviews are endorsements? 

Also, influential / credible bloggers will want to be remunerated in some respects, as it’s a full time job for some people. Therefore if you want to maximise on quality links, follow the rules.   

Let us know if you’ve been affected by this…

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