I‘ve seen this discussion happening across the Internet, in forums, on social media and on blogs. Paid posts, are they bad? Maybe. But how are they different from a radio talk show host giving his pitch for a sponsor of the show? Nothing really. Google’s new fight isn’t against spam, though I’m sure that fight is still ongoing, it’s against bloggers who accept compensation for their posting positive reviews of the product without disclosure. Google sees this as a problem because the search giant’s algorithm relies heavily on links to and from sites for ranking purposes. If you as the blogger are pushing a product you aren’t providing unbiased value to the readers and to the Googlebot when you send a link to a sponsor.
Personally, if I review something, I do not promise a positive review. I promise a fair and unbiased view of the product and how it can or can’t benefit my readers. This is my own personal preference and I stand by it 100%. Other bloggers out there do accept paid sponsorships, and though I’m not a big fan, that’s their prerogative. I personally feel that bloggers need to find ways to pay the bills and if writing a PR post for a product or company helps in doing that, then all the more power to them. What I do have an issue with is the bloggers that don’t disclose what their plan is on their blog. They decide to accept compensation, but don’t alert people that it involves a kickback to them.
On the Goldstein Media blog, we have some relevant ads on our sidebar. We feel that these ads are relevant to our readers and don’t detract from the overall value of the blog. When a blogger hides affiliate links in their posts and writes complete fluff pieces for sponsors without alerting their readers to what they are doing. That is wrong.
Disclosure is key. WebProNews interviewed Michael Gray about this very topic: