Bloggers are frequently compensated in exchange for paid links and positive reviews about companies and products. However, paying for embedded links to improve organic search ranking can is strictly forbidden by Google.
If Google deems the payments to be inappropriate, your organic SEO ranking will suffer. Designed to manipulate organic search rankings, embedded paid links are considered spam by Google and most other search engines. Embedded links need to be coded properly to avoid being audited for link integrity.
Google Webspam Criteria For Paid Links
- Value. The product received should not have any significant values and should not change your behavior. For example, receiving a free pen or t-shirt at a conference doesn’t have significant value and will not change your behavior.
- Relevance to money. The item received will be reviewed to see how close the gift is to actual money such as a gift card.
- Gift vs. Loan. An item that is loaned will be given back and typically comes with some responsibility. A gift can be interpreted as material compensation.
- Intended audience. While this can be hard to determine, the intended audience should receive a product to “try” and create awareness, not for search engine optimization gains.
- Surprise. The item received should be relevant to the person and product. For example, it is acceptable that a movie reviewer receives a free movie, not a laptop.
For more information, review the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) guidelines for paid links.