Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on March 9th, 2009

Forrester Research Report Misses Critical Google Guideline

Forrester Research published a report last week discussing paid blogs that left out one guideline that is critical to Google: Paid posts with sponsors not only need to be disclosed as sponsored but also must have the “no follow” tags. The “no follow” tags are important so that they do not fool Google’s spider, who is crawling the web for ranking purposes. The “no follow” tag tells the spider that the sponsored blog post shouldn’t count towards the site’s search ranking on Google.

This is an effort by Google to keep companies or websites from buying links to increase their rankings and to maintain organic-search results. Any web page that has been ‘paid for’ is required to have the “no follow” tag. Matt Cutts, chief enforcer of Google’s web-spam team, reiterated on his blog following the release of the Forrester report that those who fail to comply with Google’s rules will face punishment. What kind of punishment was not disclosed. Forrester Research responded with a statement saying they would follow up with a blog post that deals with Google’s demands on their website.

Forrester’s Report makes a case for companies to have paid bloggers to write about their experiences with the brand. After all, sponsored posts are in the marketing budget and paid for, while not make the most of it. If you try to write around the sponsorship, readers are going to be turned off. If you embrace the brand, readers will too. Some big brands have gotten their act together. Ford gave a paid blogger a Ford Flex for a year so she could write about her family’s adventures with the vehicle. Paid-blogging is real, vibrant, and major brands are engaging in this practice with positive results.

The number of people reading blogs has grown to 50% in the past year, so now one in three Americans online is reading a blog at least once a month. If you have a paid blog, it is important to be transparent and disclose all financial relationships. Also, your blogger needs to speak in a genuine voice and be vocal even when they have something unflattering to say about said brand. Be relevant - don’t try to push beauty products on an automotive site. Listen and research into other bloggers in the community of your brand. Last, but not least, follow the “no follow” rule, because if you don’t, Google will find you and you are not going to like it.

Volacci©. Your Profit. Our Passion.