Friday, Google posted a warning on the Webmaster blog that if you get a product to review from a manufacturer or wherever, make sure that you nofollow any links back to the person/company who sent you that product.
As a form of online marketing, some companies today will send bloggers free products to review or give away in return for a mention in a blogpost. Whether you’re the company supplying the product or the blogger writing the post, below are a few best practices to ensure that this content is both useful to users and compliant with Google Webmaster Guidelines.
Google wants you to (a) nofollow links, (b) disclose why you are writing the review and (c) write original unique and useful content on the product.
Google said sometimes when a product review is done, the company that gives the product to the blogger for free "sometimes urge bloggers to link back to" link to the company 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, and/or the company’s mobile app on an app store. Google said you need to nofollow those.
Joe Youngblood said to Google "you probably don't understand this, but bloggers have no clue wtf you're talking about." "If you penalize because they don't nofollow links you'll only drive media online to be more and more controlled by a few big corporations," he added.
Barry Adams said to that Google is "really stretching the definition of 'organic' linking to beyond breaking point here." "Basically everything a company does to promote itself is now considered 'inorganic' and the resulting links should be nofollowed? Get a grip. Stop trying to squeeze the web in to your neat little boxes - it's not your personal plaything to mold and shape as you see fit. Focus on smarter algorithms rather than forcing bloggers to dance to your tunes."
Ashley Berman Hale responded, "I don't think self-promotional links have EVER been defined as organic links to Google." "The guidelines did not change, they are just trying to be clear and give everyone a gentle reminder," she added.
I have not seen many Googlers share this blog post on social media - maybe they are afraid of not disclosing it properly? :)
Truth is, it is just a matter of time until Google sends out manual actions for this. So be prepared.
Forum discussion at Twitter.