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.
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.