Nofollow | SEO & Dynamic Linking | Disclosure

Here are some more links discussing the use of NoFollow for SEO purposes.

Seo Blog has a solid overview of how each search engine treats nofollow.
I am not sure the final conclusion regarding Yahoo and treating nofollow for ranking purposes is correct. I know many people who have done well with blog comments with Yahoo search, even on blogs using nofollow. I haven’t got any recent data.

Michael Campbell has written an overview of the differences between nofollow and dynamic linking. In summary the effect can be the same and it is much easier to implement nofollow. It is maybe not always the same if you think of the previous article and Yahoo stats.

There is also some interesting discussion on the use of NoFollow with ReviewMe reviews today.

Darren Barefoot posted a review of some backup software. He has made a policy decision that any post he makes that is sponsored will be linked using “nofollow”.

This has been picked up by Jim who has been following about paid posts recently.

This has also been discussed on Tris Hussey’s blog.

Darren Barefoot’s main arguement is that he has done this so that he doesn’t have to make a decision with each post, which I suppose is fair enough. He does however suggest that he will be posting sometimes about sites that may not fit his readership, or that he is effectively only posting because he is being paid to do it.

My ReviewMe Opinion

You shouldn’t be reviewing stuff if it doesn’t relate to your blog and your readers.
Any money you might get is a bonus.
If you review a site, and your opinion isn’t totally negative, I personally would give them a useful link. A long-term link on my blog, even from the comments or a trackback, is probably worth more from an SEO perspective for someone’s site than a link in the old content of many top bloggers.

Darren Rouse (yes a different Darren), did a short interview at Bloggertalks.com discussing among other things paid posts.

Here is an excerpt, but you really should read the full thing.

Having said that – I don’t do paid posts and wouldn’t recommend other bloggers do them unless:

* the product or service that you’re reviewing is highly relevant to the topic of your blog – will your readers be interested in the post?
* you’ve got something of value to say about the product/service – will your post be useful to readers?
* you’re genuine and give both pros and cons of the product/service – are you being true to yourself and your readers?
* make a disclaimer that you’re being paid to write the post – are you being transparent about your motivations for writing the post?

Don’t forget to read the full interview

Why is a link here worth more for SEO?

As an example just 1 month ago Robert Scoble linked through to me. I had a small spike in traffic that weren’t really interested in what I had written. It was approximately 500 visitors, but only a fraction clicked through to a previous post on the same subject, and only a couple cared to leave a comment here.
For a day or 2, a Google search for Andy Beard would show Robert’s post in the top 10 results. Then it slipped to page 2, and now it is already on page 3.
In 2 or 3 months time that link will be totally worthless for passing on pagerank. Once content leaves the front page, it enters free-fall in a bottomless crevass.

On my blogs, I generally create lots of safety nets, and I am stiving to also create a fixed platform such that content can only drop down a short way from the spotlight.

Would I Do Paid Posts?

Yes… but not for the reasons most people would do them.

I value my time, and the $30 I would currently get from ReviewMe to do any justice to a review just wouldn’t cover my time.

But any niche website is relevant to this blog

1. I can quite happily rip apart the SEO and offer some improvements
2. I can also comment on the monetisation, sales page etc.

In fact ReviewMe might be an easy way for me to find Victims.

Disclosure?

I have actually been thinking about disclosure for a long time. Disclosure is a total pain on a blog, not so much from an ethical point of view, but management.

  • You have to type all this junk every time you even mention a company.
  • Maybe today you have no financial relationship, and then in 6 months the same firm is a major sponsor of your blog, and you get some search traffic to your old content.
  • Maybe you are on best of terms with someone today, maybe working for a company such as Microsoft, and you are writing a personal blog. A year later and you now work for Google.
  • Maybe you are a lawyer, and want to include some kind of disclaimer on all your blog posts pertaining to legal advice. That might actually be something a law or health related blog might want.
  • Then of course political blogs have to be very careful about open disclosure.

Disclosure Policy Pluginâ„¢ for WordPressâ„¢

It exists, development started at the beginning of November, and it was meant to be a very fast development project. But I kept on adding features, and those inevitably caused bugs to creep into the code that cause more delays. I will probably release a beta version either tomorrow or most likely Monday.

There are more features I want to add to it, but as more and more people are having different ideas about they wish to handle disclosure now and in the future, I think it is best to get this “out there” so that they won’t have to edit even more old content.

Yes, this was another one of my rambling posts that went off in lots of different tangents. The big question is…

Was it worth reading all the way to the end?

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Comments

  1. Andy Beard says

    Hi Darren (Barefoot)
    Here are 2 quotes from the comments you made on Trish’s site

    Notably, I didn’t use rel=”nofollow” when I originally wrote about ReviewMe.com, because it was something I was interested in regardless. That is, I was motivated to post primarily out of interest, not cash.

    This suggests to me that this current review your primary motivation was cash.

    There may be future items which I would have blogged about anyway, but I’d rather not have to apply my discretion to that. So, I’ll just apply nofollow to all future ReviewMe advertiser links.

    And this is suggesting that if it wasn’t for the cash, you wouldn’t have blogged about the product.

    I don’t think I am misrepresenting what you said, but maybe you misrepresented your own selection process.

    There does however seem to be a very clear difference between what you wrote, and the guidelines Darren Rouse was suggesting (he doesn’t do paid posts himself)

  2. says

    Hey Andy,

    I’m still not sure I’m real interested in disclosure policies. I don’t do any PPP, but I do promote affiliate programs from my blogs. I’ve thought about it to some extent, and I’m not sure I feel obligated to disclose which link is going to a program I make money for, and which I don’t. Since I wouldn’t post about a product just for the money, there is really no difference between the two to me. I post about what I want to post about, and check to see if there’s an affiliate program before I make the post.

    That said, if I did feel the need to do disclosure, wouldn’t the easiest way be to have a disclosure page that stated a general policy at the top and allowed for specific relationships to be inserted below.

  3. Andy Beard says

    I do relate to your perspective on this quite strongly, as I think most people in affiliate marketing would, unless they have so much unaware traffic that it doesn’t really make a difference.

    A disclosure statement on a blog is certainly one possible alternative, and this is the direction PayPerPost encouraged when they launched DisclosurePolicy.org

    That might be looked on by most as a good way to disclose financial relationships, but the information doesn’t really travel with the content in your RSS feeds.

    Also blog traffic is such that it is quite hard to encourage multiple page views.

    The plugin can also be used to add keyword based advertising at the end of posts, nicely wrapped in CSS

  4. Andy Beard says

    For me it is very clear

    Your primary motivation for posting about the product was cash.

    Someone following Darren Rouse’s guidelines, the primary motivation is that the product or service would be of interest to their readership, and the cash is more of a bonus.

    I am not saying that one kind of motivation is necessarily better than the other.

    I quite often include affiliate links in various of my sites in different ways. I am experimenting in different kinds of disclosure depending on the emphasis I have made regarding the product. Sometimes it is just contextual or keyword advertising links, other times it is a product review or some other insight about a product if I haven’t actually purchased it myself.

    I don’t think I have ever crossed the line of writing about something just because I can earn money from it.

  5. Andy Beard says

    It is not to do with contravention of a guideline. Darren Rouse’s opinion is still just his opinion, your opinion is yours, and my opinion is my own.
    Everyone will have a different opinion about what they read, both what was written, and what wasn’t written.

    Here is a quote from your Reviewme review.

    In fact, as a launch project, ReviewMe.com is inviting reviewing bloggers to review their own site. For cash. So, this entry could make me US $125. That’s pretty good money for a post I might write anyway.

    The motivation was distinctly different in your second review.

    Clearly if one joins ReviewMe.com, their primary motivation is cash.

    I am a member of over 500 affiliate programs and email mailing lists
    I have maybe 200 blogs in my feed reader
    I have access to 10,000 products to write about in the Clickbank database
    I have access to thousands of retailers through Commission Junction, Linkshare and ShareaSale

    My motivation is to have a way to monetize what I write about, however I don’t think I have ever written about a product I don’t like, simply because they are willing to pay me to do it.

    I have written multiple posts and articles about how to use products I do like.

    I think, and this is my personal opinion, if your primary reason to write a post is because you are being paid to write it, you can potentially cross into the same realm as “made for adsense” and “thin affiliate” websites.
    There is nothing illegal in such sites, although Google often claim they are weeding them out.

    Who knows, maybe you are also testing how many negative reviews you can write before people stop asking you to review their offerings.

    As an example of how I use monetization, my Disclosure Policy Plugin site will be monetized with affiliate links for services I think people will appreciate. I will also include dedicated pages with reasons why I selected that particular product on the site in the form of reviews.

    Many plugin developers include a donation button.

    I don’t like donations all that much, because it might be looked on as some kind of obligation to continue development on a project that isn’t very financially successful.

    I would much prefer to give options that are not direct payments for a single product, but provide me encouragement to continue development in certain directions.

    I still don’t think I was misrepresenting anything. Your primary motivation was the cash, and there is nothing wrong with that as long as that is clearly stated. Maybe you could have stated that clearer.

    Your disclosure does say you are being paid, and it won’t affect your opinion, which is cool. It doesn’t state your primary motivation.

    In my mind (and maybe in that of others) there is a subtle difference between monetization of content and creating content just to get paid for it.

  6. Andy Beard says

    It is all about motivations

    Maybe a litmus test will help you grasp this

    If you were not being paid, would you have written the post?

  7. Andy Beard says

    You are not oh-for-two

    I have been writing about motivations and that is the fundamental issue

    The litmus test: You can only answer “maybe” and someone working to Darren Rouses list would probably be able to answer “yes” every time.

  8. Andy Beard says

    Relevance based upon how I read your statements seems to be of secondary importance to cash.

    Your disclosure mentions you are being paid for the review, but it does not emphasise that that is your primary motivation.

    You can judge for yourself if this compromises me–it’s a question I’m eager to explore.

    Different people are going to judge what you write in different ways.

    If you had put a declaration along the lines of

    I wouldn’t have written about this product without the monetary compensation

    or

    I am only writing about this product because they are paying me

    Would your readers think anything less of you?

    I have read your post and comments multiple times, and it still suggests the same to me.

    Maybe my view of this is different because I have so many options to write about products I actually like and use on a daily basis that can also earn me money that the idea of writing about something for primarily a financial reason is alien to me.

  9. says

    Do I need to disclose my primary motivation on every post? And do I actually have to use the phrase ‘primary motivation’? As I’ve mentioned, my reasons for posting are manifold.

    The fact is that you’ve drawn these conclusions about my posting ethics based on speculation and assumption. Despite my best efforts to clarify your misrepresentation, you’ve refused to accept anything that doesn’t jibe with your initial inaccurate impressions.

    When you wrote the initial post, instead of speculating on what I thought, you should have just asked me.

    Your implication was (and continues to be) that I’m unwilling or unable to be discriminating when cash is waved in front of my face. That’s both offensive and inaccurate.

    It also suggests, curiously, that the entire publishing world is corrupt, as they take advertising dollars from the same companies they write about.

    And let me ask again, which of Darren Rowse’s guidelines would I reply ‘maybe’ to, exactly? After all, you indicated that there was a “a very clear difference” between what I wrote, and the guidelines Darren Rowse suggested. If the difference is so striking, then it ought to be a simple matter to point out.

  10. Andy Beard says

    I just did the following

    Noticed you had 2 posts in my SK logs, so I whitelisted them

    Came back to the blog, and noticed that all your other comments had disappeared.

    I went into SK, and noticed it had blacklisted your domain name earlier.

    I whitelisted the domain name, came back to the blog and still no comments.

    Then I noticed it had also blacklisted your IP address.

    So I whitelisted your IP address.

    Still no comments

    So I went rooting around in phpmyadmin, and the database records have been nuked

    I do have a backup of the whole conversation in CoComments

    http://www.cocomment.com/comments/andybeard

    Over the next few days I am going to work out how I can restore those comments to the database.


    I drew my conclusion based upon what I read, there was certainly no preconceived notion.

    As an example of that, take a look at the first comment I wrote over on Jim’s blog (I have been a subscriber there for a couple of months)
    http://www.onebyonemedia.com/wordpress/barefoot-plays-no-footsies-with-reviewmecom/

    I happened to end up at the post Tris made a little later.

    This is because I have a Google alert setup based upon discussion regarding nofollow. I have plans to build a community site for people who don’t use nofollow

    Your whole complaint about my original post effectively comes down to one word.

    Define: Suggest on Google

    # propose: make a proposal, declare a plan for something
    # imply as a possibility; “The evidence suggests a need for more clarification”
    # hint: drop a hint; intimate by a hint
    # indicate: suggest the necessity of an intervention; in medicine; “Tetracycline is indicated in such cases”
    # call to mind; “this remark evoked sadness”

    You are taking “Suggest” to mean “Propose”

    I used “Suggest” as “imply as a possibility”

    To clear up that misconception, I am willing to change the wording from “suggests” to either “suggests to me” or “implies as a possibility” (state your preference), both of which are saying exactly the same as I originally intended, although it doesn’t rule out that the same words might suggest the same thing to other people.

    It wasn’t speculation and assumption, and I even mentioned here in the comments

    I don’t think I am misrepresenting what you said, but maybe you misrepresented your own selection process.

    That was an nice easy open door, but you didn’t take it.

    Your comments here have continued to imply the possibility that your primary motivation was the money. In fact you stated that:-

    Just because my primary motivation to write that review was cash, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other considerations such as relevancy.

    That is your choice

    you’ve refused to accept anything that doesn’t jibe with your initial inaccurate impressions.

    Lets look at my initial impressions closely

    He does however suggest that he will be posting sometimes about sites that may not fit his readership, or that he is effectively only posting because he is being paid to do it.

    Now if we use suggest in the way I was using it

    He does however imply as a possibility that he will be posting sometimes about sites that may not fit his readership, or that he is effectively only posting because he is being paid to do it.

    The second half of that you have made abundantly clear is true.

    It is my belief that a blogger has a social contract with their readership to always have a primary motivation on content. That can still be achieved even if you are trying to encourage your readers to buy a product which you feel would be highly useful for them.

    In that situation Relevance > Cash

    As soon as Cash > Relevance you introduce the possibility that the content will be less relevant.

    If content becomes less relevant, it doesn’t “fit your readership” as much.

    Your implication was (and continues to be) that I’m unwilling or unable to be discriminating when cash is waved in front of my face. That’s both offensive and inaccurate.

    If you place Cash > Relevance you have crossed a line much harder to differentiate than whether you should use a link condom or not, and yet you set a specific policy so you didn’t have to make that linking decision on a case by case basis.
    Note: you should use a proper dynamic link and not nofollow if you want the link to be truly worthless for search engines..

    Nothing you have said so far has managed to convince me to change my personal opinion.
    In many ways you have reinforced my opinion, and are highlighting the dangers of placing cash > relevance.

    You personally asked to be judged, and wanted to explore this topic.

    It is my belief that placing relevance first is correct “Discrimination”

    If you place cash first, yes I would question your ability to “discriminate”

    So maybe you are still misrepresenting yourself? Maybe you were still placing relevance first?

    That’s both offensive and inaccurate.

    I don’t think I have been inaccurate at all as per above.

    I also don’t think I have been offensive in any way. I think I am actually being helpful in explaining how one kind of reader can come to the conclusions I have.

    It seems to me your priority is to try to get me to change my opinions.
    Unfortunately if you placed cash > relevance, there is no way I am ever going to change my opinion.

    If cash > relevance there is always something more relevant that you could/should have written about instead that would be “highly relevant” rather than just relevant.

    But as I have said already, maybe you were putting relevance first, proper discretion, but that isn’t what you have stated up until now.

    It also suggests, curiously, that the entire publishing world is corrupt, as they take advertising dollars from the same companies they write about.

    Some of it is certainly corrupt, but there are levels and balances. Adversing sales is most of the time a separate department.
    Advertising budget can influence coverage, but it is very hard to not class that as some level of corruption.
    A 5 page review with a demo inclusion in the computer games industry of a game that was a little lacklustre with a 65% review can certainly help that game compete with another product that only had 1/2 a page and 85%.

    Fortunately for the games industry they can justify it, because it is highly relevant for a magazine to write extensively about all the bad things in a product too.

    And that would be perfect justification for your review, but you have stated that cash > relevance

    In none of these comments have you stated that relevance > cash. That is the only way I am going to change my opinion.

    And let me ask again, which of Darren Rowse’s guidelines would I reply ‘maybe’ to, exactly?

    “Maybe” was only in reference to the litmus test, you never said “maybe” about any of Darren’s guidelines.

    Here is what I said:-

    The litmus test: You can only answer “maybe” and someone working to Darren Rouses list would probably be able to answer “yes” every time.

    Note:- “would probably

    Whilst I was writing it, I actually added that in, because it is possible for anyone to weave themselves around a list of guidelines, believe they are following them when they are not, or even follow them “to the letter” but not “spirit”.

    cash > relevance is the root of all evils.

    There is absolutely no need to disclaim your primary motivation for every post, as long as relevance > cash

  11. says

    We’ve both spent too much time on this nerd fight, so in light of your esclating length, let me declare a truce.

    We’re not going to change each other’s minds. I think you’ve misrepresented my approach, you don’t. I think you’re seeing a nuanced question in black and white. You don’t, or are comfortable with that perspective. Fair enough on all fronts.

    As with most nerd fights, the topic of this conversation is largely moot. I’ve done far more ethically dubious things on my blog, plugging all sorts of groups and organizations for all sorts of motivations, with disclosure, and my readership has only grown. It’s clear to me that the occasional (and it may be very occasional) ReviewMe.com review isn’t going to send my readers away in droves.

    Thanks for the debate.

Trackbacks

  1. Nofollow | SEO & Dynamic Linking | Disclosure…

    [Source: Andy Beard] quoted: If you place Cash > Relevance you have crossed a line much harder to differentiate than whether you should use a link condom or not, and yet you set a specific policy so you didn’t have to make that linking decision …