On the 12th of April, it was reported that Google penalised a group of websites which offered free products in exchange for links and mentions of their brands. This is a common search marketing tactic, with companies sending out free products and in return bloggers will write a review and link back to their website. However, Google have taken exception to the practice as the sites in question broke a number of Google Webmaster Guidelines.
Google has previously warned bloggers to always disclose free product reviews and add nofollow tags to links in their review posts. (nofollow tags are a way to instruct search engines that the link should not influence the ranking of the links target page in the search engine index)
The reason for this is that links are still one of the main elements used by search engines to determine the popularity of a website. Generally, a website receiving more links from other high-authority sites will benefit from higher search rankings for relevant search terms.
To prevent webmaster from ‘buying’ search visibility, links exchange for value in the form of goods or services are against Google’s guidelines and they are therefore penalising sites which don’t comply.
Is your website protected? This penalty is designed by Google to demote the search ranking of sites that use manipulative techniques to acquire links.
A Google penalty can have a catastrophic effect for businesses, with it leading to their sites being demoted in search rankings. This can cause a significant loss of online traffic and ultimately have a negative impact on visibility and revenue. It’s advisable for businesses to always ensure that their content marketing and PR campaigns are “Google Friendly”.
At EHD, we follow Google’s guidelines for our content marketing work and constantly monitor links and mentions of our clients to ensure their websites are protected against Google penalties like this one.
Written by: Ayo Olaniyan, SEO Specialist.