Google’s Mastermind Manual Action Penalties For Bloggers
Google is the ultimate digital powerhouse, a governing body that works to deliver relevant information and promote businesses to users.
If your day-to-day online practice is within regulations, your relationship with Google is probably rock-solid. But if you step out of the white line…you may just find yourself in scary territory.
Although they’re not making a secret of their recent raid, they still remain sleuth.
You can’t hear them, you can’t see them, but Google is currently monitoring and mining nooks and crannies for culprits who may be trying to manipulate their algorithm.
Google Manual Action Penalties For Bloggers
Back in March, Google released an article on best practices for both bloggers and companies wishing to exchange links for money or products.
These best practices, which form a part of their Google Webmaster Guidelines, include the following:
1. Use The NoFollow Tag
Bloggers featuring a review or mentions of products or a brand, with link-backs to the company’s website, must attach the rel=”nofollow” tag to the link. This tag notifies search engine crawlers that they need not index or follow the specific link. Google ascertains that the NoFollow tag is necessary as the content of this nature is not organic.
2. Disclosure Statement
Bloggers who publish a post about a product or service that they have received from a company in exchange for content, review, or endorsement, must disclose their full relationship with the company, making viewers aware of sponsored content.
3. Compelling Content
Google recommends that bloggers should cover a specific niche area, where they offer information that is not easily sourced elsewhere. It is also suggested that blog posts should provide exclusive content that the user is only able to create due to their unique experience, expertise, or resource.
As it turns out, this notice was more like a warning. Google has now started to enforce Manual Action Penalties to bloggers who fail to follow the best practices.
Any blogger who receives this penalty will have their web page or website penalised and, as a result, removed from search engine result pages.
It may sound extreme, but they’ve been warned.
Google’s Guidelines For Link Schemes (To Avoid Manual Action Penalties …)
To understand all the fuss around linking, let’s delve deeper into ‘Link Schemes’.
At the very core of Link Schemes is the controversial topic of link building. Just like most things in our world, link building can be healthy, bad, or outright ugly. Surprise, surprise – organic is best.
If you’re not too sure what we mean by ‘link building’, we’re referring to the process of getting external web pages to link back to another web page.
Google recommends that webmasters can enhance the rank of their website by increasing the number of high quality and high scoring websites that link to their web pages.
The catch and reel of this SEO concept are that Google also has a strict set of guidelines when it comes to linking, so that spammers, malware, and dodgy webmasters can’t loop through holes.
But would you call a blogger with a loyal audience a dodgy webmaster?
This is the thick of it, and this is where the line gets blurred and grey, and where some of us see grey, Google see white.
Google define Link Schemes as links that set out to manipulate Pagerank or a website’s ranking by violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes being paid or accepting a product or service in exchange for a link placed on a web page.
To break this down further, Google is basically allowing the presence of a (no follow) link on the page, but the exchange of a product and/or payment for a page-ranking link cannot occur.
Where does this leave the blogger? The blogger still has a fair opportunity to appeal to a company as a valuable influencer marketing tool if they have the following attributes:
- Relevant, well-written content.
- Excellent community relationship management.
- A sufficiently large social media following.
- Specialist or expert in a niche area.
With all this knowledge, you just have to stop and think for a moment and consider – is Google trying to break down the effectiveness or value of Influencer Marketing?
Are they trying to indirectly send big brand budgets away from Influencer and blogger bank accounts and straight into their own?
If this is the case, it’s safe to say that not much can be done about the manual action penalties…but why should it?
If we want to play their game, we’re all going to have to learn to play by their rules.
The best advice we can give bloggers: read Google’s Guidelines, amend posts, and then follow their best practises very closely.