An update: Google does take ‘enforcement’ action
A few weeks ago in one of our postings, we told you about how Google had issued warnings to people who linked to websites where they had received free products from (without nofollow links.) You can see the full posting at [http://www.weareinfront.com/acknowledging-gifts-the-google-way/]
In short, Google was keen to implement this because they felt they needed a better understanding of where links had come from, and allowing this practice to go on would make it difficult to find which links had resulted from true organic searching. There are of course other reasons behind this decision aswell.
[NB: You may remember back to Mobilegeddon last year, and the talk of the supposed ‘anti-climax’ when Google had threatened to penalise sites but weeks after the deadline people seemed to report that not much had changed.]
Well just to prove that Google does keep to its word and does take action, we can now report that some of the webmasters are already feeling the effects of these latest rules.
Google’s webmaster central help forum has been alive with activity over the last few weeks, with postings from concerned website owners explaining they have received a message saying their links have been detected as either unnatural or not relevant. A sample of the type of message and commentary can be viewed here.
In response to this, Google’s own John Mueller has replied to postings giving people advice and ways they can ‘clean up’ their links in order to remove this notification and penalty.
He also makes one thing very clear – just incase there was ever any doubt:
“There’s absolutely no need to nofollow every link on your site! However, those that are there because of an exchange (such as a product or service for a review) should have a rel=nofollow on links to the product, to their sales pages, and to any social media profiles that are linked because of the review. Also, it’s always a good idea to clearly label these kinds of posts for your readers too.”
It seems that the real problem here will be how to enforce a measure like this. Whilst a good number of penalties seem to have been handed out (and therefore action taken quicker than mobilegeddon,) this is obviously an issue on a big scale or Google wouldn’t have seen the need to do anything about it in the first place. This also raises questions about the relationship between bloggers and product providers – to what extent is Google aware of this, and more importantly, can it ever truly know? Perhaps this is why Google have decided to take such a sweeping action against the issue? That said, these rules seemingly apply to amateurs and enthusiasts aswell, who see linking to websites who give them samples as the normal thing to do. With this in mind, it would certainly seem to answer the question that Google does not know the extent of the relationship perhaps?
Whether you agree with this or not is like anything else – largely down to personal opinion. We can safely say however that when Google issues warnings, take note and heed because action does follow. If you never want your website to suffer any kind of consequence then you must take note!
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