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DoFollow -vs- NoFollow links: What should review bloggers do?

small-business-marketing

Update on July 2, 2012: Why do so many small business owners dislike reviews and giveaways now?

UPDATE: After writing this opinion piece I put up another article encouraging business owners to ask bloggers what they are getting when they have a review done. That post sparked many comments (anger from both sides). I was wrong about NoFollow and DoFollow links and as promised I wrote a follow-up post about eating cake :-) Please read! (And don’t listen to my advice below, either. I hadn’t done enough research on this yet and my advice below was wrong.)

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By request, I’m writing a post about dofollow -vs- nofollow links in relationship to review bloggers. I was asked to share my opinion so here goes…

As a marketing business and a blog that sometimes offers reviews, I sit on both sides of this issue. My clients rely on back links for SEO when requesting product reviews. I also fully understand the importance of back links when I review a product for a small business owner.

There are some bloggers sending emails back to business owners now stating, “I can review, sure. But I’ll need to use the nofollow rule when linking to your site pages.”

The primary reason a small business asks for a review is because they want the SEO for it. If they have good quality links coming from high quality sites/blogs, that helps their website with search engine rankings. To give these small businesses nofollow links is like offering a child an ice cream cone treat but leaving the ice cream off the top. “Here’s your cone! But sorry. No ice cream for you.”

Here’s the thing…

Mommy Perks was founded back in 2005, before the ‘review/giveaway’ bloggers exploded on the Internet. I’ve watched this market grow and I’ve written articles about the blogs noting that if they don’t figure out a way to offer more than reviews/giveaways, their blogs will likely be short lived. Big businesses can always afford to run giveaways and pay for reviews but small business owners cannot. They don’t have a large budget for free product offers and in fact, most of the giveaways and reviews they run cost them money and put them into the red (financially).

I’ve sensed a slowdown in reviews and giveaways (in regard to small businesses) for months now. Many of them are tired of sending out free products and not seeing enough return from it. They get email after email from bloggers, asking them for free things in order to “appeal to their audience of influential mom buyers.”

{Side note: Yes, I know that some bloggers are inundated with review and giveaway requests and that these bloggers want payment for their time and don’t like getting so many emails from business owners, etc, etc. I’m not writing from this perspective, though. I’m writing from the perspective of the bloggers who want and need freebies in order to keep their blogs going.}

Now… these review/giveaway blogs rely on freebies in order to run. It’s their core. They don’t have a great deal of writing content or educational content on their blogs. They focus on the “freebie seeking” crowd and the moms who enter giveaway after giveaway in order to get freebie after freebie. If these blogs cut the nose off the businesses they get free products from… what then? How many business owners will want to ship out free products if they don’t even get a worthwhile back link for it?

These freebie blogs will cease to exist if they continue requiring nofollow links. I can guarantee you – my clients will not ship free products out to bloggers who don’t give a back link that’s worth their free shipment/product.

Even for the bloggers who are tired of getting hit up for reviews… same thing goes. If they don’t wish to give dofollow links, that’s fine. They will quickly lower their rate of reviews/giveaways and can then focus more on content that doesn’t relate to freebies/reviews. Perhaps these bloggers will purposefully offer business owners nofollow links in order to ensure the slowing down of the requests they get, eh?

From another perspective…

Here’s an article I found that talks about DoFollow and NoFollow links in depth.

According to that post, nofollow links can actually help a website/blog when used correctly. For instance, if you place one dofollow link in the post (the first link at the top, as some experts suggest) and make the rest nofollow, this might benefit the business you are linking to and it may benefit your own site/blog. It also may not… there are always contradicting opinions when it comes to page rank and SEO.

In my opinion, I believe that Google’s main point is that they don’t want to see articles with link crowding. If you place one or two links inside a post, that’s likely relevant to your reader and helps them locate the item/site that you are talking about. If you place 30 links inside a post, though, Google is going to know you are attempting to scam the search engines and you may get docked for it.

Here is my advice for business owners and bloggers:

We should not rely solely on Google for our websites, blogs or businesses. They modify their rules often and leave everyone scrambling to learn, change and jump through hoops. Just when you think your site has finally reached top search status, something changes again and you could fall through the cracks after spending thousands of dollars and hours climbing the SEO ladder.

Something to ponder…Remember Klout? So many business owners and bloggers worked hard to build up their scores. Then everything changed and most scores plummeted, leaving folks angry and bitter. “What?! I worked hard for my Klout scores and now everything has changed! What a waste of my time!” Remember the Google Friend Boxes? “What?! I worked hard to get those friends by requiring that every giveaway entrant follow my WordPress blog. And now Google removes my friend box from my WordPress blog? How dare they!? What a waste of my time and resources!”

My opinion…Build a community of your own. Build up your social networks, buddies, friends and supporters. Use ethical and legitimate ways to get your name or links out there and stop making Google your #1 marketing guru. My husband knows a great deal about SEO and we both try to keep up with the changes in order to inform our clients. At the same time, I have never viewed Google as my #1 marketing tool and I’m better off for it. I’ve built a loyal community of readers and friends, business owners and bloggers. I’ve posted quality content, self-owned images and I’ve happily dished out legitimate links in the articles and reviews I’ve written. If that’s ‘hurt’ me in the search engines, I have yet to notice it. It’s certainly NOT hurt me when it comes to my own community of loyal readers/moms/business owners. I have done what I’ve done for them and in turn, they have done much for me.

Business owners should ask for DoFollow links if they think it will help them. Bloggers who want to keep up with their freebie/giveaway/review blogs should agree to post DoFollow links (at least one of them) if they wish to continue building those relationships with the business owners who keep their freebie coffers full.

Bloggers who are more concerned with page rank than with building relationships with business owners should offer NoFollow links and not worry about burning those freebie bridges.

Now…If you continue to view Google search results as your only ace in the hole, you’ll spend your time worrying about what’s coming next and how you will need to modify when the algorithms change again. Because they WILL.

As for me, I’ll continue putting people first. Our mantra has always been to do “what makes sense for the reader.” Google states that they build (and modify) their algorithms to help the searcher. So as a website or blog owner, do what makes sense for the reader! It’s that simple.

Ask yourself, “Does this DoFollow link make sense in this post? Is it relevant to my readers? Can it help them? Does it make sense to put this link here?” If yes, do it. If not, don’t.

In regard to the sale of links and comments on blog posts

Google doesn’t want to see you write an article about prescription drug abuse and then sell paid DoFollow links on that page that go to a dog grooming business. That makes no sense, right? Someone who does such a thing is likely attempting to trick search engines by writing a post that would gain good search results followed by the selling of links that go to sites that have nothing to do with the content. In such a case, Google wants to know that they should NOT crawl or index that link for the sake of SEO (so in this case they want to see a NoFollow link). In fact, your site/blog will get punished for it. So… is the $100 you’re offered for the tricky link worth the loss of your page rank? You must consider this before selling bad links inside your articles, etc.

Think like the reader… if you read an article about pharmaceuticals and that word has a link that takes you over to a site about golf courses, wouldn’t you be annoyed? Well, that annoys Google, too. Also, if you put spamming comments through on your blog posts that contain DoFollow links to totally irrelevant sites (Viagra, etc), Google doesn’t want to give credit to those links in the search results. Therefore, you can use a plug-in that makes blog comments “NoFollow” in order to weed out the spammers. Google did this to protect and help the website searcher.

On the other hand, Google has stated that they understand blogs and sites sell advertising links and graphics. This is a core part of online real estate! Websites and blogs make money with the selling of links and ads and Google is aware of this. Gosh – they do it too, right? Google is FULL of paid ads, links and everything in between. What they do NOT want is the selling of non-relevant DoFollow links that are placed in a way that attempts to scam their search engine.

So…run your business and blogs in an ethical way. Link to sites and pages that make sense and don’t try to use black hat tricks to pimp the search engines. If you are not doing anything spammy or tricky, you should do just fine when using DoFollow links.




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31 Responses to “DoFollow -vs- NoFollow links: What should review bloggers do?”

  1. Thanks for this! As a blogger, who happens to do review ;) , this issue has been such a huge one lately. I appreciate your clarity and totally agree with you! What is the point of doing a review if not for the long term SEO–for both you *and* the business?

  2. admin says:

    Nicole – you know, after writing this I got to thinking a bit more… the blogs who enjoy a good page rank GOT that ranking from back links. Page rank is based on other sites linking to you. So… if they don’t have other sites & blogs giving THEM DoFollow links, their page rank will drop. They also need DoFollow links just to keep their good page rank standing, eh? Hmm… :-)

    I read a blog post today written by a mom blogger who said she will not give DoFollow links to business owners any more b/c she won’t risk losing her page rank – that she worked hard to get. Well, she has that ranking only because other mom bloggers are linking to her with DoFollow links. She is cutting business owners off from something that she herself needs.

    Something to ponder :-)

  3. Paid links: A site’s ranking in Google search results is partly based on analysis of those sites that link to it. In order to prevent paid links from influencing search results and negatively impacting users, we urge webmasters use nofollow on such links. Search engine guidelines require machine-readable disclosure of paid links in the same way that consumers online and offline appreciate disclosure of paid relationships (for example, a full-page newspaper ad may be headed by the word “Advertisement”).

    Google doesn’t want people paying for links to game the system. They will and do penalize for this. Many bloggers assume product as payment in terms of review blogging, thus making that review paid.

  4. Also, if the post is SEO optimized then those searching for whatever topic the review is related to will find it. The people that find it will be able to click through to the products website. Having a nofollow tag on that link wont prevent the review from showing up in Google – but it will prevent either party from the wrath of Google.

  5. Shara says:

    There was talk about this DoFollow and NoFollow issue even years ago but it’s really making the rounds now. I wonder why it has become such a hot topic lately?

    I digress…

    The line “negatively impacting users” was the point I focused on in my post. When a reader goes to a page that talks about babysitting but the paid links inside the post go to a site that talks about home mortgages, that is negatively impacting the user. It’s false advertising.

    Of course, if bloggers and writers are worried about the DoFollow/NoFollow issue they can just sell graphic ads on their sites. 125×125 buttons that link over to the owner’s site and are clearly and obviously ads. Bloggers can also add disclosures to a post saying, “This is a sponsored post/ad link.” They are being honest about the fact that the post was a PR post, etc (that is what my posts do – I clearly state that I had a product sent to me or I link to the PR firm that shipped it, etc).

    I have to wonder what Google will do in regard to the many guest bloggers who use BIO’s at the end of posts with DoFollow links. They are not paid for so will those blogs be punished soon for using the links? I’m curious… the guest blogging is so hot now and one of the best ways to gain SEO and back links. So perhaps Google will put a hold on that soon, also, saying they don’t like that folks are using BIO’s to get search engine results.

    Who knows.

    Re’ the SEO of a NoFollow link, Google is pretty clear on their page that they drop NoFollow links and don’t track them for search results. But I am sure you are right that if the post is optimized with key words, tags, etc, it may still help the business owner by showing up in searches.

    For those who worry about page rank, they will want the DoFollow link, though. Links are what page rank is based on. So I guess biz owners and bloggers will have to discuss what each party needs/wants and their purpose for doing reviews and giveaways. If a biz owner wants the link for page rank, they won’t be benefited by NoFollow links at all. Which will stop them from asking the blogger for a review or giveaway hosting.

  6. Rachel H says:

    Your article proves that you are NOT on a fence regarding blog vs business. You are obviously a business…that blogs.

    You have stated yourself, that relationships must be made. But businesses aren’t out looking for brand ambassadors that would build relationships with bloggers. They only want numbers. And they ONLY deal with HIGH numbers and HIGH page ranks. And they may be small, but they get a tax write-off for every product they sponsor and still expect a life-time warranty and work to upgrade, tweak, and maintain a review and links.
    You are correct in that we need to weather the ups & downs of Google. Businesses lay people off. Bloggers must no-follow links now. Its really…as simple as that. We loath lay offs but we understand them. Now when it comes to businesses understanding what WE need to do, they give up on BLOGGERS?
    And its also as simple as a business paying to maintain a link they WANT. Change, must come as a whole on all levels. Rates change, link expectations will do the same. If you lost a link you paid $20 for 2 years ago, how about contributing to that “relationship” with your #1 blogger to do a NEW post, w/new links and renewed compensation? Because THAT is whats needed if Bloggers are to take the hit for do-follow links. Either that, or its a no-follow link to retain our page rank in hopes to find more businesses that require high page ranks.

  7. admin says:

    Hi Rachel: I have always made it clear in my posts that I’m a business and that my #1 priority is to protect my clients. I also started http://www.reliablebloggers.com in order to offer biz owners a way to connect with kind & reliable bloggers who follow through. Many of my clients shipped products out that were never reviewed, etc, and felt they had been stolen from.

    Anyway, I always encourage my clients to find great bloggers to work with and to treat them well. To build relationships over time and to compensate when possible, network, promote those bloggers and help them build up. I never tell my clients to focus on #’s only. For me, it’s all about relationship marketing. If you care to know more you can read my ABOUT page quotes here http://mommyperks.com/aboutus#testimonies

    Quick side note: page rank is based on links. To maintain a high page rank on your own blog you need links from other sites/blogs. So I am curious how other bloggers feel about that. If bloggers don’t want to give DoFollow links, will they also tell other sites not to DoFollow for them when they are mentioned on a friend’s site, etc? This is something I ponder :-)

    That takes me back to my original point, I guess. If we use links in ethical and honest ways that are relevant to our readers and relevant to the content we are posting about in the first place, it makes sense that Google would view that as non scammy. That makes sense to me, anyway. Perhaps not to everyone :-)

  8. Crissy Page says:

    To the bloggers who follow your advice, I hope they don’t end up like me and wake up one morning to a page rank of 0.

    PR 0 pretty much puts the brakes on getting reviews, period.

    After speaking personally with two Google employees in an effort to fix my ding for not nofollowing paid links (paid includes links in reviews according to Google), I had to fix about 100 posts.

    Only then was I able to get my PR back. FYI, it took two months.

    So, will you be penalized? Maybe… Maybe not?

    Since I rely on my blog for half of my family’s income, it’s certainly not a risk I am willing to take.

    Sponsors should be working with bloggers for exposure and targeted traffic, not SEO. Offering incentives or money for backlinks is strictly against Google’s Quality Guidelines, period, and it can hurt both the blogger AND the sponsor.

  9. Shara says:

    Hi Crissy – I just left a comment for you on the fb wall asking if you’d mind sharing the email from Google. I am curious if Goggle was upset b/c your reviews were not disclosing that you got sponsored products or if it was solely about not adding nofollow links. I’d like to know & will happily amend my post if needed. I have always disclosed in posts that I got a product sent to me & make that very clear so I am curios if Google sees that as okay or if they wanted you to give full disclosure AND add nofollow links. Thanks for any help!

  10. Shara says:

    Here are my comments from the FB wall!

    So can you tell me, Crissy… what did Google say? Can you share an email with us by chance? I will happily amend my post but I’d like to see a note from Google explaining why they dropped you. Where you always disclosing in your reviews that you got the product as payment or adding a note to the end stating that your review was sponsored? I know that some bloggers got into trouble for not being honest in reviews – they wrote positive reviews as though they had purchased the product they were reviewing rather than getting it sent, no charge. So I wonder if it has more to do with that? You can help me figure that out if you can share with us what Google said! Did they tell you to change all links to no-follow & then give you a better page rank again? Did they tell you to disclose that the products were gifts? What did they want you to do? I’d appreciate hearing more. Also… page rank is based on links. Are bloggers worried about page rank because that means less reviews for them? Or something else? Thanks for any help!

    Crissy – I just left a comment under your comment on the blog post, too, thanks! As said in the post it was an opinion piece…I am happy to change my opinion if you can help me learn more. You already did answer my question about why bloggers want the pg rank (to ensure more reviews). I’m still curious how biz owners see this, though. If they do not get a back link they will do less reviews…so will bloggers just be looking for biz owners who want a nofollow link? So many questions! LOL. Thanks for any help.

  11. Karla Campos says:

    Hi Crissy, I am all for Do-follow linking since I run a guest blogging blog. I find that one link is enough to point customers to a business and makes both blogger and business owner happy, I have a 2 link max on my blog per post and those links are both do follow, I’ve had that rule since I started the blog over 4 years ago and it has never been affected by the Panda or Penguin. The only things that are no follow on any of my blogs are affiliate and Adsense links.

  12. Leah (CWW) says:

    I own a small business, and for the last 6 years we have used product reviews on blogs as one of our main methods of promoting. We have always done it mainly for the SEO, that is, we have always been after the links that would help promote us in the search engines.

    For me, this issue boils down to one very clear bottom line: if you aren’t willing to post a DoFollow link for us, then we won’t be working with you for a review.

    Crissy says that sponsors should be working with bloggers for the exposure and the targeted traffic…what I don’t think she (or most other blogs) understand, is that sponsors get almost NO exposure, and almost NO traffic from blog reviews.

    Bloggers tend to grossly overestimate the amount of ‘targeted traffic’ and ‘exposure’ generated from a review. The fact is that according to our Analytics data, the amount of traffic we receive from even the most high-profile blog review, is NEGLIGIBLE. And as for exposure, I’m afraid that our website gets more traffic in ONE DAY than most blogs get in ONE WEEK. And I know this is true because most bloggers are so eager to share the stats for their website in order to entice me into sending them a product to review.

    As a business owner, the bottom line for me is this: NoFollowed links are no good to me. As more business owners understand that bloggers are being asked by Google to NoFollow the links in their reviews, the free products for review bloggers are going to dry up.

  13. I don’t want a higher page rank to get more reviews, I want a higher rank because that helps the posts that I take so much time to write to rank higher in search results. That’s important for both me, and the brands that I work with.

    Of course I do follow other bloggers links – if I’m linking to their content because I love it, and think my readers will love it, and there is no compensation, then that is exactly why you link to someone – and those are the types of links that Google wants to use to determine page rank: the more people link to your content because they find it useful, the higher that content should move up in the search results.

    But – if a blogger gave me a free ebook of hers to review, I would nofollow that, since I’m only linking to her because she gave me a free item as payment. Google needs a way to differentiate between linking because you love it, and linking because you got compensated for it. And that’s fair. Otherwise Company A could send out 100 products and get 100 links, and get a better page rank – while Company B with a smaller budget who was only able to send out 5 free products, getting only 5 links, would not be able to benefit that way. That would mean that Company A had just purchased themselves a higher page rank – which is unfair to small businesses everywhere, right?

    So – using do follow links for reviews hurts the smaller businesses MORE in the long run, then all bloggers simply marking their review links as nofollow. Which is the rule anyway.

    If you’re only working with bloggers on review campaigns to get those links for SEO reasons, then in my opinion, they’d be doing it wrong anyway. Reviews are to build trust in a brand, when it’s talked about by bloggers that other women trust. Reviews are to build brand awareness. Reviews are great for the brand to be able to link to, and share on their own networks, building their credibility. But reviews should not be used as simply a cheap trick to get backlinks. If that was why a brand was partnering with me – Then no thank you. THAT is not relationship building….

  14. admin says:

    For me, there is a big difference btwn 1-2 DoFollow links & link stuffing posts in an attempt to rise in pg rank. That is why I want to see the emails from Google re’ the blogger who lost pg rank. Was that based on ethical linking & reviews that originally gave full disclosure to begin with… or link stuffing reviews in hopes of gaining a leg up on pg rank? And Google got angry about the manipulation? I can only speculate on that until I actually see the notes from Google.

    I am also curious – do bloggers tell biz owners that they only give nofollow links? I saw someone post that they sold a link on their blog & made the link nofollow w/o even telling the sponsor. Is this honest or ethical? Shouldn’t we always inform of our policy on this b/f taking funds from someone who assumes their link will be read by search engines?

  15. admin says:

    Side note – I appreciate that everyone is using their real names here! Thank you.

  16. Leah (CWW) says:

    Meagan P: “Reviews are to build trust in a brand, when it’s talked about by bloggers that other women trust. Reviews are to build brand awareness.”

    ‘Fraid not. A review on your never-heard-of-them blog does not build brand awareness, nor does it build trust in our brand. This is the truth – your blog, like most others, is just too small for that.

    “Reviews are great for the brand to be able to link to, and share on their own networks, building their credibility. But reviews should not be used as simply a cheap trick to get backlinks.”

    If I wanted a “cheap trick to get backlinks” then I would just buy backlinks. I enjoy giving – and I actually prefer sending a free product (most of which are valued at well over $100) to a mom blogger who will enjoy receiving a nice gift, over purchasing a bunch of backlinks, which I could easily do.

    This comment only serves to illustrate my point: most bloggers grossly overestimate their reach, their impact, and their ability to create buzz for a small business.

  17. This issue still super confuses me–I can definitely see both sides of the story. Dear Crissy is an awesome content based blog so I’m sure that she didn’t link stuff.

    So much in the blogging realm is in messy shades of grey–I wish it was clearly black and white so I could make up my own mind on the issue!

  18. admin says:

    Seeing the emails from Google would greatly help us. :-) That’s why I want them, also. I wasn’t implying in my post here that link stuffing dofollow links is good. I was saying it’s bad. Some bloggers seem to think I was encouraging link stuffing. Not the case. My point from the get-go was to say that when links are used ethically and logically, Google ought not have an issue with your blog. If your posts and links make sense for the reader and for search engines, that’s what matters. But I’ll certainly retract that statement if I can see those Google emails and see that they imply otherwise.

  19. To me it’s such a grey area–I can see why it’s not fair for big companies to be able to purchase lots of links and rank higher because of that–but also if the blogger is ethical and only links to companies that they do like and don’t mind supporting in good quality content posts then there’s no harm in that, right?

    And like you said-good do follow links are beneficial *both* to the blogger *and* to the business–so I’m not sure why it would be considered unethical unless the person in question is being unethical? Perhaps it’s the whole “one bad apple spoils the bunch” mentality and Google worries about it so punishes across the board when it happens at all?

  20. Charlotte says:

    I’ll weigh in as an SEO: it is absolutely true that bloggers are supposed to add the rel=nofollow attribute to the links in their product reviews. Google considers them compensated posts, and therefore they should not pass Page Rank.

    In my opinion, this means that the heyday of the product review blogger is coming to an end. Google’s policy on this has been enforced more strictly recently, with more bloggers seeing a reduction in their PR for not adhering to Google’s guidelines.

    Shara hit the nail on the head in her original post: stop worshiping at the altar of Google. They constantly change their guidelines and rules. Build a community of your own instead. There are plenty of ways for new readers to find you other than Google. If you are effectively taking advantage of those, then you don’t need to worry about Google as much.

    Relying on free traffic from Google as your main source of new customers/readers is just not a sound business plan, for a blogger OR a business. One little algorithm change and that traffic can disappear for months at a time, taking your bottom line with it.

  21. Leah says:

    I have to call out bloggers on another issue that really bothers me with regard to the whole refusal to give DoFollow links issue.

    Bloggers are constantly emailing me asking if they can have a free product to do a review, and then another for a giveaway. Giveaways are then set up on the blog, and how do readers earn entries?? By following the blog, following the blogger on Twitter, liking the blogger on Facebook, +1ing the blogger’s post, blogging about the giveaway and including WHAT?? A link back to the blogger’s giveaway post.

    Bloggers, your day is coming. You say you want to “build relationships and brand awareness” but right under the surface, you want to use a giveaway of our product to entice your readers to follow your blog, which is ARTIFICIALLY INFLATING YOUR AUTHORITY. If those people aren’t willing to follow you without being bribed to do so, then your content ain’t that great. And you are guilty of doing exactly what you refuse to do for a business…and it is a matter of time until Google punishes you for it.

  22. Jessie says:

    As Nicole said above — there is just SO much grey area, that I think it comes down to a personal opinion about how you want to run your blog and what matters to you in terms of relationships, rankings, etc.

    For myself, I try to find a balance. I don’t put outside links into posts that are not related, and I try to only place or or two links to the businesses per post. But, some of my posts are no-follow. Some companies request that they are done that way, and when a company wants additional links, I also no-follow most of them. I have built relationships with many pr companies and business owners and I have posted just because for them with a do-follow — I have found that this has benefited me in many ways (leading to more review ops, paid posts, etc).

    To be honest – I have never really given much thought about no-follow/do-follow links until a few months ago. They always had me a bit confused and it was one area of my blog that I neglected to really deal with.

    I can see it from both sides though — businesses want the links because it benefits them and bloggers want to hold on to a ranking that they don’t 100% understand how to improve and/or maintain. It becomes a catch 22 because most companies want to work with bloggers with high stats and page ranks, and bloggers are of the mindset that the only way to get a higher page rank is to have primarily no-follow links. Both sides get frustrated by the other sides lack of “understanding”.

    I do question whether or not it is worth it to put so much stock in one number. Google has been known to do away with other services that bloggers like myself worked hard to build up (GFC for one), and I do remember that when I first started blogging, Page Rank was becoming a thing of the past — Google hadn’t updated in over 6 months, and many bloggers were pushing PR reps to use a different system for ranking and approving reviews.

    I guess all I can do for now is keep reading what I can on it and sorting through the information! I do enjoying hearing all the different sides/opinions — it gives me a lot to think about!

  23. admin says:

    Wow… okay. Some of this is starting to make more sense now :-) I’m getting some notes from people (behind the scenes) trying to explain the blogger’s side a bit more. For instance: many bloggers want that higher page rank because that means they will continue to get bigger/better offers from brands and small biz owners. So they worry a great deal over page rank because if their ranking drops, they will lose offers.

    Now… back to my other comments – what happens when brands and small biz owners decide to stop offering up products b/c they are no longer getting searchable links in trade? That’s been my point all along, eh? Bloggers want the items but in that case, they must give their first priority to the business and not to Google. And in that case, biz owners must realize that page rank is not as important as Google wants you to think it is. Yes, it’s a total catch 22 for the blogger. They want the products and can only get offers with high page rank. But if they don’t give DoFollow links, many businesses will cease to give them anything at all.

    Now… I have always told my own clients to pick bloggers to work with based on other factors and NOT page rank: kindness, responsiveness, loyalty, readership loyalty, great blog content, good tweets, etc, etc. I have never cared about page rank at all and now I know why ;-) It doesn’t affect me like it affects review/giveaway bloggers – it’s their “bread and butter” so to say. So perhaps we can boil all of this down to Google, as Charlotte pointed out: Google doesn’t WANT bloggers giving away all those links and perhaps undermining THEIR advertisers. Hmmm. When mom bloggers give out links and don’t nofollow them, it takes traffic away from Google’s paying advertisers, doesn’t it? It may also then force small biz owners to advertise with Google because they will no longer be able to rely on blog reviews for those searchable links. Mmmm…..that sends MORE business Google’s way. Quite smart of Google, really.

    So back to my post’s point: we should stop making everything about Google. Build our own communities and readers and friends and networking circles and do what’s ethical and logical in our posts. Align both bloggers and small business owners as partners. Biz owners find great bloggers to work with and treat them well. Bloggers find great businesses to work with but don’t rely 100% on reviews/giveaways to run their blog. Add good quality content, too, so the non-freebie-seeking-crowd will also want to hang around the blog/content.

    That’s my opinion, anyway. I have never worried too much about Google and it’s paid off for me. I have focused on offering my readers content, articles, parenting info, business tips and I have a few reviews/giveaways here and there (but it’s not our core by any means).

    Many smaller bloggers are kind, helpful and go out of their way to help a small biz owner. On the other hand, I have worked with plenty of large bloggers who care more about money & free stuff than any small biz owner. They won’t even reply to emails unless they are being offered something BIG. Why would small biz owners want to work with folks like that anyway, eh? I sure would not. I’ll tell you something else… I once had a client of mine pay $100 to post an article on a large blogger’s site. The large blog brought 5 hits to them. Nothing more! On the other hand, some smaller bloggers agreed to review, no charge, and tweeted many times to help the business owner out. The business/myself then promoted them in return. It worked out well and everyone was happy. Everyone got more traffic than the larger blog ever sent (for the $100).

    All in all – I will stick to what I have always done. If my page rank goes down for it, I’ll survive because my community is in tact and I never count 100% on Google for my traffic anyway. They modify things so often and can knock you off your roster real fast if you count solely on them for your business/branding.

  24. I’m confused how anyone could think blogs don’t have influence over readers and stating we inflate our followers by “making” them follow us on Facebook, Twitter or wherever.

    I track the links clicked on my blog and in the reviews I do. I promote the reviews on my social media networks and watch as the people reading click through to visit the site of the product in the review.

    I only review products that would be of interest/use to my readers, who are mostly moms in the US. I’ve had many companies e-mail me with the same comments on how they saw a huge response from a review.

    You can say us “don’t know you from Adam” bloggers don’t have influence or that we aren’t building brand awareness but those we’ve worked with will be quick to tell you different. It’s obvious you’ve gotten the short end of the stick because not all bloggers are created equal. Some are only in it for free stuff, while others go the extra mile to bring a new company or brand into the spotlight to those readers who have grown to trust and reply on their opinions.

  25. I know you are replying to Leah but I’ll jump in quickly on this one. Hi Amber! We don’t know each other yet I don’t think… nice to meet you.

    Many of my own clients believed for a while that the reviews/giveaways would really help their business. For the most part, they have not. The biz owners see bloggers asking for lots of likes and follows on their own outlets and long ago, that was all bloggers asked for. Then biz owners complained and said, “Please ask entrants to like OUR pages!” So then bloggers began asking both: for new fans of their own and for new fans of the sponsor’s site, also.

    Now, when a blog review or giveaway is done, yes, folks click to that page. But do they ever click out from the blog to the business owner’s site? That’s the point that biz owners try to make. Sure, the blogger gets traffic and clicks but that never means that entrants are clicking to the biz owner’s site FROM the blog page :-)

    So… what biz owners want and need then is a DoFollow link so they will at least show up in search engines. Since they may or may not get any traffic from the review/giveaway at all, they are seeking long term benefits from the review/giveaway. And without that link, they will stop running reviews/giveaways.

    Most of clients already have stopped. They are doing guest articles now rather than reviews/giveaways (with a bio link that includes a DoFollow). Of course, once Google sees that everyone is doing this, and taking the advertising away from THEM again, I’m sure they will crack down on those author links, too. They always find a way to bring the biz owners back to them for ad dollars.

    Many bloggers work hard to promote small businesses, I agree. I love those bloggers!

  26. Ava Parnass says:

    What an amazing discussion, well mannered informative and really interesting..
    Has to be one of the better threads I have read in a while:)
    Now while I am still a little confused as time goes I am sure it will make more sense to me.

  27. For readers following this thread, here are MORE comments to follow along with from our Facebook wall! http://www.facebook.com/mommyperks/posts/10151846181840591?notif_t=feed_comment

    Lots and lots and lots and lots. LOL

  28. Ava – that’s funny! Call me some time. We can chat via phone. I think I’ve outstayed my own welcome on my own blog here. LOL. (Too much info!!)

  29. Suzanne says:

    About 9 months ago I completely stopped sending out items for review on blogs because I was noticing a significant drop in “referrals” from those posts. As I have two blogs myself, I am aware of some of your options when creating links to other sites. I suspected that just like me, bloggers try to keep up to date with Google “policy changes” in order to keep their blog/site visible in searches and ranking from drastically dropping.

    Frankly if I am going to have to pay to get ”reviewed” and an “active” link from a blog then I will go the advertising route rather than deal with such a fickle SEO beast as a post featuring my products. And in this case so many people loose as my choice will be made on reliability, longevity, popularity and ranking rather than my personal preference for the style and personality of the blogger.

    Just like so many bloggers, I am a Mom trying to provide for my family and I will need to make wise choices to continue to grow rather than emotionally driven choices.

  30. Leah says:

    You know Shara, one of the comments that really killed me in all of this was by Dear Crissy, who said that “PR 0 pretty much puts the brakes on getting reviews, period.”

    Why would that be if brands aren’t doing reviews for the SEO value??? Seems to me that if brands really just wanted to ‘build brand awareness’ then her PR 0 wouldn’t be an issue, now would it? Bloggers KNOW that brands want links for SEO, and they want to preserve their PR in order to get reviews…but then chop the legs out from under the brand once the review posts. Seems like Google is screwing bloggers AND brands.

    Even if the bloggers give DoFollow links, Google can come along anytime and remove the PR of the blogger…meaning those DoFollow links aren’t worth anything to the brands for SEO anyway, just like a NoFollow link.

    And I think it just flat stinks for Google to take reviews away from us. They really can do whatever they want, can’t they? And further, they are creating MORE black hat SEO. What avenues are brands going to have left for legitimate links?? Ugh. I need a margarita!!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Should bloggers refuse payment for reviews or demand it? || Small Business Tips - [...] my opinion on this topic. I will share my thoughts today but I’ve learned my lesson about sharing too …
  2. Small business owners – be sure to ask, “Am I getting a NoFollow or DoFollow link from your review?” || Small Business Tips - [...] light of the DoFollow / NoFollow issue, I’d like to suggest that small business owners ask the question prior …

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