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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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17 Responses to “Eating cake… DoFollow / NoFollow”

  1. Shara,
     
    Don’t lose a wink of sleep over the rowdy bloggers. You carried yourself well and we are proud of you. You will not lose any paying customer/client, if anything I say that this episode will actually be an open door or even bring about a flooding of clients your way. 
    Enjoy your cake, take a warm bath and sleep well

  2. admin says:

    Thanks, Bola. That’s sweet :-) I’m off to go to bed now and shall enjoy a piece of cake. Rick was kind enough to buy a big ol’ carrot cake. LOL. So I can have some now and EAT IT tomorrow. Sleep well. We are house sitting for friends soon (someone I met on Twitter but have never met in person!). My mama says that you can’t make real friends on Twitter. I beg to differ. I hope to meet you one day, also. People keep asking me to host a Mommy Perks conference so I guess I had better do that soon! Some of us have known each other for years now!

  3. Unknown Mami says:

    There are worse things than eating cake, right? I’ll eat cake any day of the week. I appreciate you mentioning the concern I brought up and thank you for the dofollow link, now I don’t have to pay you… I’m kidding. Peace, love, and bloggerstanding.

  4. A.Smith says:

    I must have missed a few of your posts because I’m totally confused by this (bookmarking to back track over a nice cup of joe).

    Either way I love you no matter what you do Shara and have never seen anyone come close to the level of dedication you have in promoting and supporting small businesses. Your clients are very lucky to have you on their team ;)

  5. Cake is one of my favorites…next to smiling, of course! All of us should eat cake every day. It’s true, because each of us makes mistakes EVERY SINGLE DAY! To do any less would make us less than human. Life isn’t about being really perfect, it’s about being perfectly real. And KIND and HELPFUL and CONSIDERATE and HONEST. You are all of those things, Shara! And then some. At the end of the day, we can measure success by how well we have treated others, and you GET that! In fact, there is ample research that backs that fact up. Those that play well with others have greater success than others. That makes YOU a roaring success! Thanks for all you bring to this world, Shara. You always shine bright! ~Wendy

  6. admin says:

    Unknown Mami – That’s very funny. I love it! You’re a keeper :-) I invite you to share with us about what you do/offer business owners who want reviews. My clients love funny, classy and kind bloggers and you are one of them. Please share with us so they can learn more about you. Thanks! (You also have excellent grammar and spelling/punctuation and that’s something else my clients like… seriously!) It makes your writing professional and enjoyable.

  7. admin says:

    Amber – Hi honey! I really miss you around. Thanks for the comment. I love you too and you have always been one of my favorite bloggers!! And people, for that matter.

  8. admin says:

    Wendy – as always, your comments and presence make others feel better, happier and healthier. You have taught me so much over the years for which I’m ever grateful. And you are right – we all make mistakes. What matters is how we handle that and how we treat others.

  9. Leah says:

    You know, I really don’t think you are making a mistake here. I mean obviously google wants review links nofollowed, I get that. But I think your motives were spot on.

    One thing Google *loves* to say is, ask yourself, if the search engines did not exist, would I still do this? If you examine the whole issue from that perspective, then you get more of the heart of what Shara was trying to say. But I’m not trying to resurrect the issue.

    The point is that I’ve been quite impressed by Shara’s character thru all of this. It easy to be gracious and respectful when things are smooth and there is no conflict or disagreement. It is when conflict and turmoil arise that you really see the true character of a person come out.

    Through all this you’ve been humble, respectful, said often that you might be wrong and were willing to learn, and treated even the rudest commenters with kindness and respect in return. Many of them would do well to learn from your example, including me.

    I want to be Shara when I grow up. And considering how many people are ignorant on the whole nofollow issue, I appreciate the price you’ve paid to bring attention to this issue – it has benefited all of us.

  10. Shara says:

    Wow. That was so kind it actually made me tear up a little bit. Thanks, Leah! I love our community here. The comments so far are so nice. Goes to show how kind our community is – uplifting and nice. No meanness or nastiness needed. That’s not what we are about. I’m proud to be in this community of givers! I try to surround myself with positive people and it sure does pay off ;-) I highly recommend it. Don’t get involved in communities where nasty words and angry/hateful/bitter comments rule. Did you know that Trolling and Bullying Online (leaving nasty comments about someone in blog posts or attacking them, etc) is actually a big deal now (legally)? You can search that to find out more. It’s always better to stay on the up and up in that regard or to cut a chat off before it gets ugly (mature thing to do). And remember that birds of a feather stick together. Just like back in high school, if someone is willing to say nasty things about someone else, they will be just as willing to say nasty things about YOU. So do yourself a favor and find nice folks to hang around. You won’t regret that. I bet Miss Wendy Warner Young will agree with me on this one. (She’s an authority on social emotional development and teaches others to be kind. Yep. She’s pretty cool.)

  11. Shara asked me to post my email to her here so bloggers would know that while it might seem like we speak in general terms but we really appreciate some of the bloggers that participated in the nofollow discussion:

    “Poor thing! Barking at the wrong tree. Her loss was gain for some other awesome review bloggers that participated in the discussion. Some classy gals that I will be recommending”

  12. Shara says:

    Thanks, Bola. I never actually went back over to the ‘other’ blogger’s post. I went once or twice after it went up but never again. I was told that the comments were very ugly and I try not to allow negativity to drain the positive.

    I heard about the post, though, and how nasty it got toward me. I’m glad that you saw some great bloggers there who maintained courtesy. That’s what we like to see, yep! Those make the best brand ambassadors, also. The folks who know the value of positive PR and how to remain calm, collected and kind even under pressure.

    Anyhoo, thanks for sharing!

  13. One thing that I have always love love LOVED about you Shara is that you’re totally willing to seek, learn, and listen–and then if and when something comes up to make you change your mind you go at it whole heartedly (Remember your tree hugger pic?? Hehehehe, awesome sauce!)

    Thanks for helping clear this up for ALL of us! :)

    As a blogger who does reviews I try to help businesses by doing reviews that are embedded in that thing that we all love and need–yepp, content. That way I have an “ever green” post that people can find and come back to because they find value in it-think of it like product placement in your favorite TV show. By doing my reviews this way I also produce content that can be pinned, stumbled, etc.

    I also spread the love across my social media channels, and if the business reciprocates across there channels it’s a win/win! Positive word of mouth is always a great benefit in marketing, always has been!

  14. Shara says:

    Nicole – Yes, I love my tree hugger pic. LOL. It’s one of my favorite photos. Along with my Anne of Green Gables 8th grade piano recital dress. Puffy sleeves! haha.

    Pondering something…I’ve been with some of my clients for years now. Some of them have done 100+ reviews. When they first began doing reviews (years ago) they were told it was for the sales. No sales came through blogs (usually). Then they were told it was for clicks and traffic. Again, not much (for most of them). Then they were told it should be for word of mouth and branding or for the social shares. Most felt that this still wasn’t doing anything much (or at least…it wasn’t something they could quantify). Then they were told to look at reviews for the SEO. And now for the “mom blogger influence.” It keeps shifting. (I’ve been watching it since 2005) Most of them have just given up on reviews now.

    I’ve read the research on how most moms go looking online prior to buying a product. According to one recent report, those moms go looking to read before buying a “new” product that they have never purchased before (generally from large brands like Disney or Evenflo, etc. Not so much from smaller brands).

    For me, after so many years of research and trial and error, I’ve found that personally showing people the products works best (to actually push sales for the small business owner). When friends and family members come over (or see me at the library, etc) they see me using a sippy cup that I reviewed (or that a client sent to me) and ask about it. Or they see me using a blanket that a mom made and ask me where it came from. Many times, they go to the site and buy the product and tell me they did it. So that one-on-one word of mouth has worked best for me to help gain sales for the small business owners.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. I know that you have shown people my books :-) And have worked hard to promote me long after you reviewed my books…

  15. Ava Parnass says:

    HI Shara once again I think you educated us and raised the bar to a great new level. I love how you conducted this learning experience for us all. I love interacting within the community you built and being part of it.
    A bunch of wonderful folks..

    In terms of totally understanding it , I am not there yet but with your patience for teaching I know you will help me:)
    Thanks for doing the research for all of us and it is a wonderful teachable moment ..Thanks for all you do! And ditto to what eveeryone elses said about you!!!

  16. Shara says:

    That’s sweet, Ava. Thank you. I can chat more about this with you when you call next week. I’m still learning myself, though, and doing lots of research. There are many conflicting opinions out there and SEO is an ever-changing thing as new algorithms are written to modify search results (and stop spam). So I’ll ALWAYS be learning more as will you.

  17. I totally agree with you that the most impact seems to come from in person items–or even just those that I end up sharing through my personal pages rather than fan pages-for example I was recently sent a dress to review. I loved it so much that I made the picture of me in it my profile picture. I had so many compliments, likes, and friends asking me where I bought it. I think that part of my reviewing goes far beyond a simple post-I try to do that with all the items that I am especially impressed with–like your books!

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  1. Small business owners – be sure to ask, “Am I getting a NoFollow or DoFollow link from your review?” || Small Business Tips - [...] EATING CAKE {June 28, 2012 at [...]
  2. DoFollow -vs- NoFollow links: What should review bloggers do? || Small Business Tips - [...] wrong about NoFollow and DoFollow links and as promised I wrote a follow-up post about eating cake Please …

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