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The Argument For Paid Reviews

Paid reviews have always been a hot topic amongst bloggers. There are those who are all for it, those who are absolutely against it and those aren’t sure where they sit. Personally I’m all for it as I believe it’s a great way to generate income, and I must admit this has to be the strongest argument for it.

I would say the fact that Google disapproves of paid reviews and would Google Slap the PR off of any blog that would dare to partake of this lucrative money spinner is more than likely the strongest argument against it. I’ve even read some blogs where the bloggers are so against others doing paid reviews that they are quite willing to tell Google on them, something that is actually encouraged by the BIG G!

You have to ask yourself why Google is so against paid reviews, and they will tell you that it messes up their algorithms when paid posts passes on PageRank. Matt Cutts will also tell you that one of the reasons is that they do not want paid post passing PageRank to sites that talk about brain tumors, colon cleansing or certain loan companies as some of these may be less than honorable. The problem is if you search any one of these terms you will find that Google has it’s own sponsored links which would make one assume that the real reason is they do not want others to get in on the action. Think about it, every paid review is taking money out of their coffers. We must remember though that it is Google’s search engine and they can run it any way they want and if they want to penalize people for taking on paid post that is their right.

Another argument against paid posts that I’ve come across is, “What if I don’t support the site or it’s content?” The answer is simple, unless you are a member of PayU2Blog, you simply do not take the task, but don’t for a moment think that you are doing the world any favors because there is always someone out there who will take it and they may not put the spin on it that you would have, had you taken the post. Say for example the task was to review an online gambling site. Were you to pass it up the person who took it on may paint such a rosy picture of gambling online that it may well encourage some to take it up. I’ve done many such posts and I play it down some and always finish off telling people how they should gamble responsibly and not to gamble at all if they can’t afford to lose the money.

Then there are those who are worried that people will stop reading their blogs if they did paid reviews, and you know they would be right if there were more paid reviews than regular posts. That would be like watching a TV station where commercials exceeded the actual program. Paid reviews should not be the main focus of any good blog and where they do exist there must always be some sort of disclosure so that readers know exactly what they are reading.

Now don’t for a minute think that I am promoting paid reviews, because I am not. I am merely stating some arguments as to why certain bloggers, myself included, may want to take on paid reviews to supplement their blogging income.


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Peter Pelliccia

I'm an Aussie blogger who loves to blog and share everything that I've learned on my blogging journey, including blogging tips and ways to blog for money. I am also trying to make my way on YouTube. You can follow my progress by subscribing to My Bonzer Channel.

This Post Has 83 Comments

  1. I’ve always thought that they didn’t like it because it wasn’t an “honest” link. They got it from the money they put out. Personally, I think blog reviews are OK, but they never drove a lot of traffic for me for what I spent on them, and that’s really the bottom line isn’t it?

    1. That could be the case Bob, or perhaps its what they want people to believe. I mean how many honest links are out there anyway. Consider the multitude of blogs running the Top Commentator plugins, would you consider them ‘honest links’, and that is just one example?

      1. Hi Sire,

        Very interesting way to talk about the paid reviews and Google.

        As SEO, my initial thought would be on the link nature of those just like Bob, but I will also strongly validate your point.

        What I mean is that we still have to remember that Google is a business and their main purpose is to make money (a lot of it!), and anything that could cause them to make less of it may find its place in their policies…
        .-= Nicolas Prudhon@SEO Help´s last blog ..TLD Registration Impact On SEO =-.

        1. That is what I’ve been saying all along Nicolas, that penalizing sites that take paid links has as much to do with Google’s share of the profits as it has with passing along any PR. I’m fine with that, I know all about maximizing your profits, I just wish people would stop believing their sugar coating propaganda.

          1. Now you just make me wonder if one was to write and promote a site against Google, kinda Anti-Google Society, would such site be able to rank or would it be “moderated”…
            .-= Nicolas Prudhon@SEO Help´s last blog ..Day 20: 21DSM – Finding Link Partners =-.

          2. Strange you should mention that. I was thinking of buying a domain called, only to find that Google beat me to it. :wallbash_tb: :laugh_tb: I reckon they want to head off any possible bad publicity.

  2. Well, in that case Mitch I reckon I prefer to live in Australia. As for the paid posts, I’ve never hid that fact that I do them, as to it affecting my credibility I wonder what others would say to that.

    1. Twitter:
      You have always owned up to them. Others haven’t. Still, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you write a bad review of a paid post either. I think that you’ve survived because you had a great body of work that offsets the paid posts. I’ll admit, though, that after the first couple, I don’t read the paid reviews anymore.
      .-= Mitch´s last blog ..Marketing Vs. Promoting =-.

      1. Oh, I don’t know, I’ve caught you replying to one or two. :laugh_tb: I agree that I’ve probably haven’t done a bad review, but then I don’t think I’ve ever raved about a product that I haven’t tried. I think my reviews are more neutral than anything else. A lot of the times tasks don’t even require a review, all they want is a link.

  3. Does google consider a paid review the same as a paid link? I assume if you put nofollow on their link it would be fine, as I think the advertisers are mainly just trying to get their product seen by the blog viewers

    1. I believe that Google doesn’t like any paid link, whether in a review or otherwise, that passes on PR. That being the case I reckon any nofollow review should be OK.

  4. Thanks Tony, helping people out in their online endeavors has always been a passion of mine.

      1. Yeah, I wasn’t quite sure about that one, but as you can see Mitch, it is easily fixed.

  5. Well Mona, apart from losing my PR I’ve never had Google do anything to affect my SERPS at all. Perhaps, as far as your friend is concerned, it is a momentary glitch in the system and things will be back to normal soon.

    1. It’s actually more than 20 days since his traffic from Google has dried up..Can you suggest something that he should try(for proper indexing of all his webpages or something like that) so that he gets back to the situation

      1. I’m afraid that is beyond my expertise, but perhaps your friend can find some information at Failing that he could possibly ask Matt the question.

      2. Twitter:
        If your friend was writing things that were blatantly going against Google rules, they can de-list him from their search engine. It wouldn’t be the first time, as they’ve delisted John Chow and Text Link Ads. Since we don’t know the site, we can’t take a look to potentially see what the fuss might be about.
        .-= Mitch´s last blog ..Vista, The Dog Of All Operating Systems =-.

      3. Hi Mona,

        How can you be sure that the pages are still indexed? Did you check their current ranking position? (there a big difference between a ranking drop and a delisting)

        Drop in ranking position can come from many different factors, of course paid reviews could be a cause, but it may not be the only one. Like Mitch said, without more information, it’s quite difficult to give suggestion.
        .-= Nicolas Prudhon@SEO Help´s last blog ..TLD Registration Impact On SEO =-.

  6. Twitter:
    You know my position on this one, Sire. I’m against paid reviews as far as “my” doing them because I don’t believe people can maintain credibility and do them. I’ve never seen a single negative review on a paid review; I’m sure there’s one or two out there, but I’ve never seen one.

    For me, that’s the danger in it, as I want my readers to always believe, and know, that I wasn’t paid to say whatever it is I’ve said.

    However, if that’s how people want to make money, then by all means do it. Just as I’m doing with my blog and my no page rank, though, don’t gripe if you get hit with a Google penalty. Just do it, and live with whatever the consequences are.
    .-= Mitch´s last blog ..Michael Jackson – The Follow Up =-.

    1. The thing is Mitch as long as people know which of your posts are paid reviews and are able to differentiate between that and your normal posts, it shouldn’t affect your credibility at all.

      1. Twitter:
        Maybe it shouldn’t, but it will. It’s like if your best friend is found to be a child pornographer, yet you never knew. You’d still be shunned, even if everything you did was above board.

        Guess I could have gone with murderer, eh? lol :rolleyes_wp:
        .-= Mitch´s last blog ..Go To Webinar =-.

        1. That would only be true if you remained to be best friends with him after the facts were revealed. I’m sure if you publicly distanced yourself from him most would understand.

          1. Twitter:
            It may work that way in Australia, but in America, you’re guilty by association many times. People wouldn’t believe you couldn’t have known certain stuff; we tend to be suspicious like that.
            .-= Mitch´s last blog ..Social Media, SEO And Your Business in 90 Minutes =-.

          2. Yes sire I am also agreed with Mitch !because having the paid reviews is nothing but a nasty process in which you will be a just like a blind moderator!Hope after reading my reply you will think little bit about it!

          3. Thanks for your concern Kay, but I feel that I have a right to do paid reviews and as long as I do it responsibly I don’t think people will think the worse of me for it.

    2. Hi Mitch,

      I’m with you on this one.

      Although I understand the money factor and the fact that some people would provide honest review, it’s quite hard to imagine someone paying for a post trashing its products/service…

      My readers who show great trust in what I say everyday would be utterly disappointed if I ever was to review something dishonestly for the sake of money I believe.

      Personally I don’t really care if the review is paid or not, what is important in my eyes is whether or not the review is honest.
      .-= Nicolas Prudhon@SEO Help´s last blog ..TLD Registration Impact On SEO =-.

      1. The thing is Nicolas, that a lot of the time you don’t actually have to review the site at all. Most of the time all that is required is that you talk of a particular subject and include a link, complete with keywords, into the post.

        1. That’s more link buying than paid review in this case for me.
          .-= Nicolas Prudhon@SEO Help´s last blog ..TLD Registration Impact On SEO =-.

          1. That may be true, but either way, Google doesn’t like it.

        1. I think personally, I will have decided first whether or not I trust the reviewer or not, then decide to read the review or not.

          I will not spend time considering whether or not I should spend some time to learn to trust the reviewer in this kind of situation.
          .-= Nicolas Prudhon@SEO Help´s last blog ..TLD Registration Impact On SEO =-.

        2. So gentleman, where does that leave me? Do you trust me…..or not? Careful how you answer that.. :guns_tb: :laugh_tb:

          1. I suppose most of the advertisers are happy with the keyword rich link that is included in the post. Personally, like I’ve stated before, I would much prefer to pay extra to have my link permanently displayed on the front page somewhere.

          2. Twitter:
            Trust you? The way you cheat in chess (how one learns how to cheat in chess is beyond me)! lol

            Actually Sire, your paid posts are usually nothing more than “this is what this is”, and you leave it at that. I’m not sure how that helps the company one way or the other, but they pay you, you haven’t gone out of your way to praise them, and that seems to be that. The most praise I’ve ever seen you give anything is when you were talking about your new theme. :smile2_ee:
            .-= Mitch´s last blog ..Marketing Vs. Promoting =-.

  7. As a newbie in blogging I found that its a valuable site for me. I can learn more here. This is vary useful article for me and people like me. thanks

  8. I think paid posts actually increase Google takings on AdWords. Just look at big terms like insurance and gambling. The top sites are paying through the nose for links and none of them are penalised. A lot of SEOs won’t touch these terms because they know its just a paid link war. So, more people end up paying for AdWords for these terms either because they can’t afford/don’t want to join the link war or they can’t find anyone who will even take them on.

    Personally I think most paid reviews are a devaluing bilge run. If they look natural, so they would not stand out as paid reviews then its a different story.

  9. Hi Sire,
    Gr8 post i must say…few things to ask
    One of my friends also writes paid posts on his tech blog(PR 4) and recently observed his Google traffic going to almost nil(he had recent rankings on many keywords).Now, no posts of his blog comes on google search results…although, the web pages of his blog are still indexed…
    What should he do to get his blog relevance on search results back.
    btw, as u said, u find it comfortable doing paid reviews, have you ever seen Google this to you…(i mean, discouraging your website on search results)…Thanks in advance

  10. So David, you reckon it’s all a ruse from Google to make it look like they are doing the right thing when the whole while they are rubbing their hands together as paid posts increase their takings?

    1. It’s one of many theories :D

      Google cast themselves as an “ethical” company that “does no evil”. Because of the way they rank sites, they have caused millions if not billions of pages to be created solely for the manipulation of search engines. I refer to this as “the big mess of the internet” :P Although Google are not directly responsible, it is their fault. So,obviously they have to take a stance against things such as paid reviews, which would be nowhere near as prevalent if links had never been used to influence search results.

      They do to action against people who take paid review and sell links (PR whack and de-index), but you can buy as many links as you want and they won’t take any action against you.

      So, they are making quite a big effort to cut the paid link economy down; which they are responsible for. If they didn’t do this, the Internet would quickly go out of control and become a massive link farm. The search results would be deluged with the biggest paid link spenders and Google would probably be left blushing that their system is a walk in the park to game if you have cash in hand.

      1. The thing is David, that their gripe is against paid reviews that pass along PR, so no follow links are OK. What I don’t understand is the average person has no idea what PR was and how it related to a certain site, so why all the hype. The only people that care about PR are webmasters, bloggers and those involved in the SEO industry.

  11. Paid reviews are quit good as a “advertorial”, but the outgoing links gotta be nofollowed. My experience say, that paid reviews are great for the visitors, but for the search engines the outgoing links gotta marked as nofollow.

    1. That’s fine except when the advertiser insists links are dofollow, then it is up to the individual blogger as to whether or not they take the task.

  12. It’s nice of you to put your viewpoint forward Brad. I would have thought that if Google really did not want PR to go to those less than desirable sites the answer would be to penalize only those sites linking to them rather than an overall blanket approach covering everyone doing paid reviews.

    Still, it’s their baby and they can raise it anyway they want, but that doesn’t mean we have to be happy with the way they do it.

  13. Google rules and tries to set the standard for internet search in many ways. I do agree with you Sire doing reviews to supplement an income would be great. Most people that did it would be ethical people I believe and it may add a little more quality in some cases. But the in our eyes, less ethical sites may gain some undesired advantages. Maybe Google should separate the sites and have Google for us and Giggle for the adult entertainment sites.

    Don’t know how to fairly approach the whole thing but paid reviews I think could have much value. Maybe someday.
    Brad West ~ onomoney
    .-= Brad West´s last blog ..Hello from Dave Fullmer =-.

  14. There are plenty of ways to make money blogging, albeit not easy. But with paid reviews you run the risk of debasing the reason people are reading your blogs in the first place.
    I say proceed with caution.

    1. I don’t know. What’s the difference between a paid review and they myriad of posts out there promoting affiliates? Even the likes of Darren Rowse does his fair share of affiliate promotion and he seems to be doing OK.

      1. Like I replied to Mitch earlier, to me I don’t care if the review is paid or not, be it affiliate, product, or service.

        What I care about is whether or not it’s a genuine honest review or not.
        .-= Nicolas Prudhon@SEO Help´s last blog ..TLD Registration Impact On SEO =-.

        1. But how would you know Nicolas? Take Thesis for example. I’ve lost count of people who post about how good the Theme is and yet don’t even use it on their blogs. They’re just promoting an affiliate.

          The trouble is that there are a lot of people who would blatantly lie about stuff just so they can make a buck. It just seems a little unfair that those who do honest reviews have to be punished along with the morons. Oh well, I suppose that’s what life is all about.

          1. I guess it’s just wishful thinking in some way to hope for honesty…

            Like you said, it’s really hard to know for sure so people will tend to rely (at least I do) on whether or not I trust the person myself or not.

            I couldn’t agree more with you that it’s unfair for the honest people to be put in the same basket as the morons… but certain things can’t be helped I guess.
            .-= Nicolas Prudhon@SEO Help´s last blog ..On-Site Duplicate Content Issues =-.

  15. I totally agree with this post.

    I always say if you have a problem with me making money from one of my blogs then by all means unsubscribe. I am sure 2 more people will take your place. :)

    Paid posts provides some quick cash to take care of things like hosting and more domains.

    My only problem with paid posts is bloggers who do way too many paid posts.
    .-= Deneil Merritt´s last blog ..Become A Blogger =-.

    1. Deneil Merrit You are right that its a very good and informative post. I know you I had many visit to you blog I found there many interesting articles.

    2. That is true, unless you have a blog, or blogs, whose main intention is to do paid posts, as in that case it doesn’t really matter. Otherwise, like you said, paid posts should be kept at a minimum.

  16. Hmmm very intersting Sire, I always learn something new when I come here!

    I had no idea that Google looked so bad on paid reviews. I have never done one, and frankly wouldn’t even know where to start if I wanted to (I guess google “paid reviews” LOL:)

    But in all seriousness, on I do reviews but none are paid, these are all natural product reviews that I want to do to share with the readers, like things I have used or that came to my attention. I am sure Google doesn’t have a problem with that, as there are legit review sites, no?
    .-= Evita´s last blog ..Time Spent Well =-.

    1. Unfortunately they do Evita. As for the reviews you do, I would make sure that the links are all no-follow, because Google would probably not know whether it is paid or not and penalize you anyway.

  17. Last month I started doing paid posts on my blog. I think it is a great way for bloggers to make money. The key is to only accept articles that make sense to your readers. If your blog is about blogging and you write about an energy drink, then there is problem. I do not hide the fact that I want o make money from my blogs and paid posts are a great way to do it.
    .-= Tycoon Blogger @Promote your blog´s last blog ..Is Twittley better than Tweetmeme? =-.

    1. Well Tycoon, lucky for me my blogs allow me to select from many paid post tasks, but even so I am careful as to which ones I choose, so you make a very valid point.

      How do you feel about the possibility of losing your PR when Google finds out you’ve been a naughty boy? :furious_tb:

    2. Just curious, when you write a paid review, do you just endorse what the advertiser want regardless of your actual opinion, or do you make the review yourself?
      .-= Nicolas Prudhon@SEO Help´s last blog ..On-Site Duplicate Content Issues =-.

      1. As far as I can remember I have never endorsed anything that I have not personally tried. A lot of the time the advertiser just wants you to talk about a product or service in general whilst including their link with specified keyword. These are easy to do and now endorsement is necessary.

        I’ve done a lot of reviews on weight loss pills, and I always stipulate that unless you have a life style change that includes exercise and a healthy diet regime they just won’t work. That is just an example showing how you can include your own ideals into a post.

        1. Likewise, I don’t do pay review, but I do review some SEO products/services from time to time on my blog with affiliate links.

          However, I only do that for products that I have purchased, use and find worthwhile to my readers.

          At that time, I personally endorse the review I make.
          .-= Nicolas Prudhon@SEO Help´s last blog ..Day 19: 21DSM – Outrank Your Competition =-.

          1. I’ve also noticed that when you review a product that you’ve actually used and approved of, especially if it’s an affiliate, you are more likely to get a positive result leading to a sale or to, than if you just made the whole thing up.

  18. Well Mitch, I had a feeling this would be a pretty hot topic. PageRank being so overrated makes you wonder why so many people put so much emphasis on it doesn’t it.

    1. Twitter:
      I do understand why page rank means something, though. I mean, if you’re doing nothing controversial in Google’s eyes, page rank is an indication that your website is at least optimized properly, or that you’re getting some nice traffic. Once you’ve been there, and you lose it, and you know why you lost it,… not a big deal. And, actually, before I lost it, I knew it wasn’t a big deal anymore.

      But it’s what we do; everyone else believes what they read, and there’s still a lot of people out there telling people that page rank is a big deal.
      .-= Mitch´s last blog ..Michael Jackson – The Follow Up =-.

      1. I don’t know if that is entirely accurate Mitch, but I know better than to argue with you. :wallbash_tb: :laugh_tb:

  19. Sire: This has been and probably always be a highly debatable topic. However, you have looked at both sides of it like a statesman. I am in agreement with you; but this is the first time I learnt how pagerank flow kind of messes up the system.
    .-= Raj Krishnaswamy´s last blog ..Kitchen tableware coupons =-.

    1. Well Raj, perhaps it’s time to get rid of page rank all together. I find it pretty useless anyway and don’t see the point.

      1. I’d never expect myself saying that, but I’m getting rather confused by the way PR is working lately, it turns out that most of my posts have higher PR than my homepage which has gazillion more backlinks (in number and superior quality) than my posts…

        So just like Sire said, forget about it. Anyway my ranking in Google increases and so does my traffic, so I don’t really give a damn about the PR. :)
        .-= Nicolas Prudhon@SEO Help´s last blog ..Did The “NoFollow” Attribute Really Change? =-.

  20. Twitter:
    Wow Sire, our initial discussion certainly has taken off, hasn’t it? Lots of diversity in the comments also. I’m with you on the one thing, though, that being that page rank is overrated at this point.
    .-= Mitch´s last blog ..Social Media, SEO And Your Business in 90 Minutes =-.

  21. Regardless of how Google personally feels about paid reviews I think they are a great business model honestly. I have worked on the Internet for a little over 10 years, in that time I have dealt with numerous review sites (mainstream and not) that produce excellent results for the site purchasing a review, and of course the reviewing site generates nice revenue in return.

    The haters can hate it, regardless it’s a business model that offers a return on the investment. I would purchase blog reviews if I knew the site content matched mine in some form. Great article, my first time here I will def be subscribing and sharing.
    .-= Extreme John´s last blog ..RSS Feeds for Bloggers and Blog Readers =-.

    1. Welcome John, and thanks for taking the time to comment as I treasure all my comments, except the spam ones that I send to Hades :furious_tb: :devil_tb:

      You know though John, if I was to pay for a link, I would much rather have it on the front page of the blog rather than a post that disappears into the archives. That way you get exposure and PR juice at the same time.

  22. I think Google is in the wrong for penalizing a blogger that make paid review of such. Some bloggers are making a living from doing this and a reduction in pr hurts the chances of getting any sales.

    I’m really disappointed Google has to control us like this. Tho I don’t do these activities it’s still no right that Google is trying to tell a blogger what they can and can’t do on their blog.

    Now on the other hand lets say a products sucks. Google caches paid blog post about that product. Good or bad the blogger will provide a great review seeing they are being paid.

    As a consumer I am worried about this! I don’t want to read something is amazing, buy it and find out it sucks!
    Engaged, Stumbled, Dugg, Mixxed and buzzed it up bro!
    .-= bbrian017´s last blog ..Creating the Perfect Comment You Comment I Follow =-.

    1. Twitter:

      I just had to say something based on your post above. If you’re worried about your PR and that’s why you won’t write paid reviews, well, that’s the wrong reason for worrying about it. PR means absolutely nothing as far as making money, unless the people who want you to write for them worry about your site because you don’t have it.

      Two, though we don’t like it, Google does have the right to make their own choices on these things; after all, they’re paying for it, and we’re just using them for free.
      .-= Mitch´s last blog ..If I Wanted To Make Money On A Blog, I Would,… =-.

      1. I never said I didn’t like Google. I understand the motive behind their actions as something any businessman would do. They are just minimizing their competition. No drama, I just don’t approve of the smokescreen behind their action, but then again, who knows, perhaps if I was in their shoes I would do the same thing.

        1. Twitter:
          Overall I like Google, but I don’t like that they can pick and choose who to get rid of the way they can.

          1. Yeah, but like you said Mitch it’s their baby and they can do with it as they will. Who are we to complain when we choose to use their services, and they know it. Then again, how can they change their ways if we don’t make our feeling known?

  23. I was simply looking at the situations from both sides! I don’t think either is right or wrong!
    .-= bbrian017´s last blog ..Creating the Best Brand Image for your Blog =-.

    1. No worries mate, we’re just shooting the breeze like any mates would.

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