Editor’s note: “Ask an SEO” is a weekly column by technical SEO expert Jenny Halasz. Come up with your hardest SEO question and fill out our form. You might see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!
Today’s Ask an SEO questions is from Bethanie of Newcastle upon Tyne. She writes:
I was looking for your advice on link building for fashion clients. A large proportion of their audience are hanging out and getting inspiration from fashion blogs, meaning that is a sensible place to try and get links from.
However with Google guidelines stating that these kind of links should be nofollowed if a product/payment is involved, I wondered if you had any tips. Even if it’s a natural links, I feel like bloggers are so scared of being penalized that all links are nofollow. What are your thoughts?
Officially, you’re supposed to nofollow links where any form of payment (including free product) are provided. In reality, not a single site actually does that – especially in the fashion industry.
I think providing a free product to a known blogger in exchange for their honest, unbiased review is perfectly acceptable. The key is that the review must be unbiased.
That being said, here are some guidelines I suggest following:
Include a Clear Disclaimer
Somewhere on the page that the blogger uses for your review, it should say something like this:
“I was provided this product for free from Company X. My review is unbiased, and no payment has been made in exchange for this post.”
Ideally this should be at the bottom of the page, because you don’t want the reader to skip the article.
I’ve also seen plenty of bloggers use a disclaimer on every page like this:
“I am occasionally provided free products in exchange for my unbiased review. All opinions are my own, and are not influenced by anyone.”
I almost prefer that, because then the individual reader doesn’t know whether your product is one of those or not. Of course, that decision is entirely up to the blogger.
Publish More Content Than Reviews
The blogger must provide some original content.
Ideally this should be more than half of the overall content on the site.
Without this important element, the blog can look like it is just a shill for product reviews.
All Posts Must Be Related
The blogger must write on a certain topic, or maybe a small range of topics.
For example, it would be acceptable for a mom blogger to write about fashion, travel, and baby products, but not to write about fashion, finance, and football.
There are plenty of writers who may be interested in all three, but disparate interests are an immediate red flag.
Never Get Links From a Site with a Taboo Topic
There are certain topics that are just taboo.
If your blogger has ever written a post on prescription drugs (like Viagra, Cialis, Phentermine), any type of casino gaming, or anything to do with pr0n (I won’t even write it out in this post), don’t accept a link from them.
You’re better safe than sorry with that.
Don’t Require a Link Back
Similar to not influencing the review in any way, never require a link back or request a dofollow link specifically. Let the blogger decide.
Even if they don’t provide a link, if they’re a decent blogger, the effort will still pay off in the form of brand awareness and social mentions.
Above all, seek to build a relationship with the blogger rather than just a tit-for-tat, link-for-product relationship. The blogger may start to love your products and buy them on their own, or mention your products in comparison to others, or include your fashions as part of a more generalized fashion post.
And those are the kinds of natural links and exposure you really want.
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Featured Image: Paulo Bobita