In a Webmaster post dated Friday 11th March, Google issued very clear instructions to bloggers who review free products they receive from companies.
In short, bloggers are told to: use nofollow tags, disclose their interests and create unique content.
That last point goes without saying. Bloggers should create unique content for their readers. That is after all the one compelling reason for readers to come back to the blog.
The second point made by Google, asking bloggers who receive free products to review or give away to disclose their interests, really is a legal requirement and has been for some time. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has issued guidelines around disclosure for bloggers and the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) takes the view that not disclosing paid-for promotional content could breach fair trading laws.
Bloggers should aspire to full transparency rather than fear it. Readers embrace honesty, especially in blogs. We would advise adding the following disclaimer to all reviews: "This product/service was given to me free of charge from x company in order to review it. However, the opinions expressed in this post are my own."
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