Despite our calls business owners are still looking to mislead potential customers.

Google has again updated its guidelines to hammer home the point that, if people have professional, commercial relationships with companies they’re reviewing products for, then it simply MUST be disclosed.

Even if the product has been obtained freely or as a gift, that relationship still has to be disclosed, according to the search giant. The rules they say are “a few best practices to ensure that this content is both useful to users and compliant with Google Webmaster Guidelines”.

Google wants publishers to use the nofollow tag when linking back to the website of the related party so that no page authority is sent back to them for a search boost. Google also wants bloggers to specifically disclose the relationship, and to produce unique content.

 

Google Isn’t Happy That Brands STILL Aren’t Disclosing Relationships In 2016

 

It’s nothing new really, but this latest post throws up some interesting arguments. One we saw the other week was how is a blogger new to the internet (say someone in their fifties that has just discovered a niche for writing about fashion) supposed to know about no- and dofollow links?

That’s a fair argument, but misses the point a bit. Again, that just optimises for Google, and ignores the argument of misleading readers and viewers; something we’ve been urging against for months, especially with the FTC and ASA updating their guidelines.

And sometimes it’s not the fault of the blogger or vlogger. Sometimes people with respectable viewerships and readerships can just fall victim to the silver tongue of a trained PR professional.

What do you think? Do you have relationships with other companies where you review their products? Is Google being fair? Let me know in the comments section below.

Under review

The Oreo example is still – rightly – held up as the best example of this, with Mondelez showing a casual approach to the ‘Lick Race’ campaign instead of highlighting best advertising practices.

We said before it’s nothing really new. It feels like an eternity in internet marketing terms, and remember when then head of webspam, Matt Cutts, discussed nofollow for link sculpting back in 2009 which caused a bit of an industry stir.

So something can’t be right if Google is still urging people to be transparent with their business relationships in 2016. We mention this too because a designer friend of ours who used to work for a popular magazine in the North West recently pointed out to us that every one of its restaurant reviews was paid-for.

Non-disclosure online is the print equivalent, and has been going on for years across the globe. It’s disheartening; imagine not knowing that a good review for a restaurant was a paid-for advertising opportunity, going for a meal there, and it turning out to be hopeless.

 

 

Disclosure’s a key issue when doing anything on the internet to build confidence and trust with the people you want to visit in the long-term.

Luckily not every PR is willing to mislead. We’ve had a couple of press releases in our inbox this week, and one was an interesting idea from Nathan Rous of NPR, representing car competition site BOTB.com.

It read: “A nice motoring story happening in London tomorrow. An electrician who drives a battered old van has won an Aston Martin DB9 Volante with BOTB.com – the supercar giveaway people – and we’re heading to a job in Hammersmith at 10am tomorrow to hand him the keys.

“He has no idea so do you want to be in on the surprise?”

Your Turn! What’s the best way for brands to bridge gaps between themselves and potential customers? Surely it’s just a case of being friendly and accessible? Let me know below!

Word of mouth is still king

We couldn’t make it in the end (Hammersmith’s a wee bit out the way from Macclesfield) but it’s a clever PR idea, and a risky one, too. The CEO was also in attendance, and if anything went wrong then a lot of press would likely be on-hand to publicise it.

Still the payoff is fantastic; an inclusive PR strategy that trades on the goodwill of an exciting event and, seemingly, confirms that people can actually win cars off the internet. It’s also generated a lot of local press; Nathan deserves credit for doing something right for his client.

A lot of bloggers and vloggers, though, simply don’t have the resources to hire a PR professional or give away a car. Still, though, that’s no reason not to disclose information about gifts received and commercial relationships with other parties.

Because, as we’ve written before, 2016 is said to be the year of the consumer, and getting on the wrong side of your target audience through dishonest advertising simply isn’t worth it.

 

Word of mouth is still king

 

An interesting article over on Marketing Land points out how customers are interacting with brands more naturally than ever before, how search is getting smarter and more predictive, how people are using social platforms to discover new things, and how searches and actions are coming together.

Do you really think such a web-savvy mobile audience will be impressed with being misled? Such arrogance to directly mislead and deceive online will hurt your relationships as well as your position against your competitors, and simply isn’t worth it. The old adage of “you can’t be nice in business” is slowly ebbing away thanks to the reach of the internet.

Coming full circle, Google stressing the importance of transparency shows how essential the need to understanding your audience and profile them properly is, as well as how they act online and complementing it with a creative inbound marketing strategy that works for you and your business.

There’s another caveat to this, too. Being transparent and honest with your customers online is a selling point in itself, and an irresistible bit of PR for the company that stays true to their word and is helpful to their customers, no matter what new marketing technologies may crop up in the future.

If you’d like to know more about inbound marketing and how to build a creative inbound strategy to attract more customers speak to a Webpresence representative today.