Google Unnatural Link Penalties Signals Big Changes for Bloggers

This week Google issued a large amount of unnatural links penalties, specifically targeting sites that are linking outwards to other web sites in a manner that Google deems against their guidelines. We’ve known for a while that Google doesn’t look favourably on the idea of bloggers being paid to write reviews in exchange for free products, however now they are directing the penalties towards the sites containing these links, not the people that have placed them.

This change will no doubt impact the way that bloggers work in terms of reviewing products, thanks to the increased risk it now places on their sites, it will also affect those using blogger reviews as part of their SEO strategy. We asked Megan Lillie, a North East based beauty blogger currently taking part in our SEO team work experience program, to give us the rundown on how bloggers must now work to ensure they stick to these guidelines.

Over to you, Megan!

“It is a regular occurrence for bloggers to receive products from a brand, paid for or not, for review purposes. So it’s come as no surprise that Google has now began to intervene with those choosing to leave outbound links as they are and not applying the ‘nofollow’ aspect, contributing to ranking that link higher within search engines.

Bloggers who are being penalised are receiving direct warnings from Google via manual actions, inevitably telling them to ‘sort it out’. This can easily be avoided by following two simple steps:

1. Disclosing the review – Tell your readers/buyers that you have been sent this product for review and disclose whether or not the review is paid for. Disclosing any form of payment is actually a regulation put into place by the ASA (Advertising Standards Agency).  Not only is this good in Google’s books, but it also creates a sense of honesty with your readers too.

2. Using the ‘nofollow’ tag – By using the nofollow tag on your outbound links, it is basically telling Google that your inclusion of the link on your blog is not assisting in getting that page to rank higher. If a brand asks for a follow link to be included, decline. It is not worth risking your integrity as well as your blog’s.

If you have been penalised by Google for this (you can check this via Google Search Console), you can simply re-jig your links to utilise the nofollow tag, and resubmit so the team can check your blog again and remove the manual action. Simple!”

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