Eating cake… DoFollow / NoFollow

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

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Okay. As promised I’m eating cake (Rick is at the store buying some now as I don’t have time to bake!) after a long and healthy discussion on the blog related to DoFollow and NoFollow links. Be sure to scroll through the comments and read each one – you’ll find lots of helpful information there and varying opinions, etc. Good stuff.

I received multiple emails behind the scenes saying things like, “Girl…you are getting hit hard by bloggers hating you! Wow. We would comment but don’t want to be stuck in the middle.” I totally get that. For me, though, with a teaching background, life is all about learning, sharing and even disagreeing with others. It’s fun and makes life interesting. This didn’t stress me out as some of you are worried about. In fact, I enjoyed the discussions. I sure do appreciate you worrying about me, though 😉 (Thanks for the funny pic, MariLee.)

When I first heard about the NoFollow issue (not long ago) I was floored that so many bloggers were doing this and that so many business owners and PR firms had no idea. I also didn’t know that sending products for reviews, without doing the NoFollow attribute, was considered “black hat SEO.” Now I know and have to eat cake for that, yep. I have always assumed that giving legitimate links inside review posts was just fine and that products were not considered payment for text links. I have no idea how this entire issue stayed out of my face for so long but it did. Obviously I wasn’t doing my homework. We have learned a lot here and will be modifying our own practices in regard to our site. (See below)

My note to bloggers:

I apologize for saying that you SHOULD give DoFollow links on any review posts at all. After reading, researching and asking questions, we believe that NoFollow links are required by Google if you get cash payment, trades, products, etc. It appears that Google sees these links as ‘attempting to pass page rank’ which is the same thing as buying links to game the system. Including review products. Clearly you all know more than I do about this because you have done more research than me. I’m now up to speed for which I’m grateful. Thanks to the many people who commented on the blog post sharing their thoughts and opinions. I learned from each one of you and I value(d) your input.

On another note, I’d like for bloggers to know about Jessica Marr. I have given our Reliable Blogger site over to her now and I wash my hands of it. I’m clearly not cut out for the review thing and Jessica is. She’s your gal. I’d rather you all work with someone who keeps up daily with the review rules and regulations. Jessica is also very kind and caring.

In closing

After reading over everything that Google states about NoFollow and DoFollow links, I have decided:

  • I already slowed way down on reviews and I cut blog giveaways out entirely (because I just didn’t feel that giveaways were doing enough for the business and I felt they were better served promoting in other ways). I will be slowing down even more on reviews now. This is just not where my heart is (and never has been). I much prefer to meet business owners, build long term relationships and stick by one another for years to come. Fast reviews are not my pleasure and I was actually only doing so many because I thought I was helping the small businesses out by giving them some SEO. And now I find out I might have been hurting them by giving DoFollow links and I hate that. I’m sorry for it.
  • I will NoFollow links for the products I’m reviewing that are still in our waiting list (and will go back and NoFollow other links, too). I’ll be letting the PR firms know that I’m doing it just in case their clients are/were assuming their posts were for the DoFollow link. I want to be sure I mention this to them because I feel that’s the right thing to do.
  • If PR firms or business owners ask me to review, I’ll pick and choose carefully and also let them know my policy on NoFollow links so they are aware. If they choose not to have me review, that’s their option. I can inform them of other things I can do to promote but in the end, it will be up to them if they think the promotions are worthwhile for long term benefits.
  • When I really want to blog about a product and use a DoFollow link I will buy the item. That way, I can give a full review of something I find relevant and helpful to our readers and I’ll be helping the small business owner at the same time. Just like other consumer report sites, I assume I can DoFollow links if I paid for the product myself because I wanted it, liked it and wish to tell others about it. (If I am wrong about this, bloggers please tell me.)
  • We run and own multiple websites and have for years. We have never seen a big dump in our rankings or ratings but the day might be coming (who knows). For now, the site that gets the best search results is our Early Childhood site. I have only run a few select reviews there about children’s books and educational sites. The posts I put up are generally written on topics I find interesting and my guest authors do the same. So I want to move BACK in that direction here at Mommy Perks, too.  More content that our own readers really value (parenting and business information). That is where my heart is.
  • I will continue to work with the PR firms who offer me non profit content. I will post for them with DoFollow links because they never pay me and never send me products. They simply ask for help with sharing information that others will find helpful (medical updates, etc). These links are not paid in any way and in fact, I’ve blogged about how much traffic those links have brought to us. Now I know why. They are DoFollow but for good, ethical and honest reasoning. So I’ll happily keep that going if it’s considered ethical linking.
  • When my own clients ask me about reviews now, I’ll let them know about NoFollow and encourage them to ask bloggers in what other ways they plan to leverage posts/reviews in order to benefit the business (since many of my clients and colleagues assumed that they were getting search-engine-friendly links in trade for their products). In fact, bloggers are welcome to comment below letting us know how you promote and in what ways you send long term benefits to business owners (or short term). I welcome your input. Many of my clients have worked with bloggers who quickly post, tweet once, facebook once and move to the next post. They never see any long term results at all. So feel free to educate us on what you do offer. We’re open to listening.
  • As one blogger mentioned in our other thread (Unknown Mami), there’s a difference between NoFollow and NoIndex. So I encourage you (and myself) to learn more about that.

Sorry this got so long – thanks for reading.

I’ll eat my cake soon & snap a pic for my Twitter avatar! Probably tomorrow as I’m wiped out now. Good night all.

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