Google Watching Paid Review Blogs that Pass PageRank

SMS Text

If your blog openly posts paid reviews in an irrelevant, poorly written, not disclosing these as advertisements and using deliberate anchor text in the posts to influence Google rankings, you just might be under the scope of the Google spam team.

Matt Cutts explains :

In the same way that a regular surfer would want disclosure to know if a post were paid, all the major search engines also want to make sure that paid posts are adequately disclosed to search engines as well.

Google recommends using a NoFollow tag on such links in paid reviews as a form of disclosure or “Redirecting the links to an intermediate page that is blocked from search engines with a robots.txt file.

Buying and selling links is a normal part of the economy of the web when done for advertising purposes, and not for manipulation of search results. Links purchased for advertising should be designated as such.

Does this mean that you should not publish paid reviews or buy them? No.

Google is asking that blogs label paid reviews as such, which many paid review blogs do. If you don’t want to use NoFollow or redirect the links in your blog or site, I would suggest:

1. Be picky of the products you review on your blog, and raise your review price.

2. Do not link out to PayPerPost or any of the review services. Don’t run a big ReviewMe ad on the right side of your blog saying that you do reviews for $45 if you don’t want to alert the world that you’re doing paid reviews sometimes.

3. If you’re going to disclose, make a statement saying so.

4. Instead of accepting money, ask for a gift card or some other form of reimbursement.

5. Be discreet.

Given that Google has formally addressed paid review links as something they are targeting, advertisers should be more picky too. When looking for sites that do paid reviews, take the time to read the blog. Make sure it’s relevant to your subject and don’t get reviews only from blogs that specialize in reviews, because most of them are crap.

Even if the blogs have a decent PageRank, in a lot of cases that PageRank is manipulated or the owner just bought the site, and is pimping out its PageRank via reviews for $50 for anyone who pays.

Then, in six months that review blog will lose its PageRank, or be penalized, and the owner will leave it in blog limbo and move on to pimping out reviews on other blogs. But you can never move on because your links from those horrible “review only” blogs will last forever.

When buying reviews, be sure to look for blogs that:

1. Like I said before, do not link out to PayPerPost and the paid review companies.

2. Mix in reviews with natural posts and normal news coverage.

3. Have a reputation and are owned by someone who cares about their blog and won’t sell their sould to make $100 a day in reviews, then trash the blog.

4. Offer the ability to contact the owner.

5. Take the time to write honest and good reviews, not just pumping out jumbled copy & paste reviews that pass CopyScape.

Of course, instead of paying for blog reviews you can always request a guest blogging spot on authority blogs or contribute your articles to respectable web sites that accept editorials and guest articles.

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Loren Baker
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  • Search◊ Engines Web

    One concern is that even if a blog is penalized to a PR0, there is still a possibility that all of those reviews and anchor text – collectively -will still
    help, not only in Google but in Yahoo and MSN.

    What has to be taken into account is…
    nothing from nothing, leaves nothing.

    There may be extremely frustrated commercial site owners who paid for the development high quality sites and have not been getting any traffic.

    After a while, they can continue to get nothing or engage in a few gray hat tactics to a least get a sprinkling of visitors.

    They can continue buying Adwords and be victims of Click Fraud and low returns or they can attempt to be less dependent on Adwords.

    Once blogs and directories are taken away as the only resources left – what other options are there……NONE!!

    There is just no other way for an SMB to get a commercial site ranked.

    This will begin the era of the downfall of Google.
    It is now alienating the masses.

  • Michael Martinez

    People are being greedy and that is why some of them are being caught.

    When it comes to buying PageRank-passing links, people need to follow Google’s implied acceptable standards:

    1) Only buy PageRank-passing links from Google-approved sources like Yahoo! and ThomasNet.

    2) Don’t buy links in volume.

    3) Create as many domains as you need to in order to buy PageRank-passing links from Google-approved link selling sources like Yahoo! and ThomasNet.

    4) Get as much PageRank as you absolutely can because that is the only way you can be sure your content will be included in the Main Web Index, whose pages are shown in search results above more relevant content found only in the Supplemental Results Index.

    5) Google does not believe in fair and open disclosure of the fact that it is suppressing useful, unique content. Disclosure is therefore not high on Google’s priority list.

  • Loren Baker, Editor

    Sweet 🙂 Thanks Michael!

  • Paul Gregg


    I my self just purchased 25 links from smorty. And i was position 5 for my search term and i am now 3 in a matter of 3 days. I dont understand the google “gods”… whats the diff between spending 300 on directory listings that STAGGER and having paid blog reviews built in such a way that it seems organic… I am new to this SEO stuff and am a bit concerned about this. Should i be worried?

  • Anthony

    When Matt says “Links purchased for advertising should be designated as such.” is he implying that sites such as yellow pages sites should use no-follow?

  • Forest Parks

    I have been doing paid reviews but trying to improve them so they are readable as posts too.

    I am scare of losing my pagerank so may just bite the bullet and start a new blog.

  • Authority Online Magazine

    I think google is confusing everybody including itself! Look at the yahoo directory listing which costs $200 and is much valued by google. Then they turn around and say that you on the other hand shouldn’t accept $25 for a link.

  • Mike

    This is a confusing subject matter.

    What about blogs that aren’t paid but tend to do a lot of reviews?

    I guess no follow would still be a good idea there.. you want to drive traffic to your blog first, then to the product, right? 🙂

  • David

    Thanks for the info friend. I will adding a disclosure policy to my blog now!

  • David Brice

    I think that there is a big difference between buying a blog review with links to drive traffic to your site and buying reviews with links purely to buy pagerank. Most blog reviews have degenerated into completely worthless words with a few links thrown in.


    how to google accept paid reviews. And the pagerank is not falling