Since Google’s latest update, most bloggers have realised (if they didn’t know before) that Google likes paid links on blogs to be no-follow.

It’s not a complicated rule, and I don’t think it needs THAT much debate. If you have a paid link on your blog and you don’t fancy being penalized by Google, you add a little ‘no-follow’ tag, and that’s it.

Unless you happen to work in SEO, apparently.

I’ve received some brilliant emails from SEOs since BlogCamp, explaining to me that my understanding of Google is woefully inadequate, and I shouldn’t take advice from ‘so-called professionals’ who tell me to worry my pretty little head about such things, because so long as I say a post is ‘suggested by’ a brand, and not ‘sponsored’ then everything is fine and my Page Rank will probably go up. Yeah, right. And Facebook cares about my privacy.

I think my favourite email came from an SEO who sent me ‘proof’ of his argument in the form of a ‘top parent blog’ that carried paid links and still had a Page Rank of 5. He made a nice picture with red boxes and arrows and everything.

The only teeny problem was the blog he sent me was my own blog. Which – for the record – doesn’t carried paid links, only no-follow display ads.

Anyway, some SEOs are starting to get a bit creative with how they secure links from bloggers. And I’m not knocking that.

If you can come up with something fun and engaging for bloggers to do, that will naturally build links, then that’s A Good Thing. There are loads of great PR and digital/SEO types doing interesting stuff.

Like running a competition and asking bloggers to link to you in their entry – I know some bloggers won’t enter on principle but I’ve worked on this sort of campaign and think it works well if the prize is REALLY amazing – like a family holiday overseas. But is asking bloggers to provide a back-link in order to apply for a job A Good Thing? I’m not so sure.

Working Mums (a job site for Mums looking for jobs) has posted a job ad this week asking for a blogger to write on its site. The job is a temporary, 3 month contract to write 3 posts – at £50 per post. Great.

Except, to apply for the job, the blogger is expected to write a post on their blog about the challenges of being a working Mum, including a back-link to the Working Mums site. And then Tweet the company a link to the article, using a hash-tag.

I really want to think this is a company offering flexible, part-time work and recognizing the challenges of being a working parent. But, I’m not convinced. It actually strikes me as being quite a smart way of building lots of relevant backlinks to a site, along with a bucket-load of social mentions. For what they might otherwise spend on two sponsored posts. As I say, I’m not opposed to SEOs using blogs to build links. If it benefits the bloggers. It just seems disingenuous to get hopeful job applicants to do your SEO for you.

Or am I being too cynical?

(ps – my link to Working Mums here is no-follow) 

(UPDATE: You can now enter the comp by email and Working Mums says it’s happy to consider applications by email and also those using no-follow links. Which I think is fair enough – kudos to them for taking on board the feedback) 

About 

Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She's also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world's coolest ten year old.