Originally at https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/03/14/google-asks-bloggers-to-nofollow-links-for-free-gifts-the-expert-view/

As we reported on Friday, Google has issued guidelines for bloggers who receive free products from companies. 

Google’s advice is for bloggers to nofollow any links that they add to products they’ve received as ‘these links didn’t come about organically’.

It may sound simple enough, but it raises a number of issues. These include:

Is there a problem with bloggers providing links in return for free products?
If so, is this the fault of the bloggers or the brands/agencies applying pressure?
How can Google tell the difference between a link added in return for a freebie and a natural link?
Should bloggers be worried? Will Google make an example of one or two sites as it did with guest blogging?

I’ve been talking to some search experts about the issue.

Henry Ellis is MD at SEO, social and mobile agency Tamar. He also runs a parenting blog in his spare time.
Barry Adams is the Founder of SEO consultancy Polemic Digital.

Why does Google feel the need to ask bloggers to nofollow links? Is there a problem with links for freebies? 

Henry Ellis:

Influencer engagement isn’t necessarily about receiving links but more about reaching the audience of a particular blogger or online ‘personality’. The halo effect is that these engagements produce links, but that is often secondary.

Google has no hope of enforcing any issues around this so it seems it has chosen to go for bloggers instead. If Google can scare some bloggers into nofollowing links then it doesn’t have to take the step of telling the brands off – those same brands it wants to spend money on PPC ads etc.

Barry Adams: 

It’s all about scale. Blogger outreach has now become such a scalable endeavour – and bloggers are now so clued-in to the commercial possibilities of working with companies – that great outreach campaigns can achieve significant success in a fairly …

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