Google has published on their Webmaster blog a notice that bloggers who receive free or gifted products from brands or manufacturers should make sure to follow some “best practices” to ensure they do not get penalized by Google.
In short, Google clearly has seen bloggers write about products and link to the supplier of the products in exchange for the free product.
When you are given a product for free, and you write about the product, Google wants you to do three things:
(1) Nofollow the link, if you decide to link to the company’s site, the company’s social media accounts, an online merchant’s page that sells the product, a review service’s page featuring reviews of the product or the company’s mobile app in an app store.
(2) Disclose that you are writing this content because the company gave you the product for free. Google said, “Users want to know when they’re viewing sponsored content,” and sometimes there is a legal requirement to do so.
(3) Create compelling, unique content so that it adds value beyond what is out on the web. Google said you should “provide exclusive content that only you can create due to your unique expertise or resources.”
Often, when Google publishes best practices around nofollow usage, weeks later, Google sends out manual actions penalties for those who do not practice them. So be warned.
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