I love using my Blogging 101 segment on MamaNYC as a way to share my best tips, advice, and tutorials with fellow bloggers so that we can all grow together. Hopefully new bloggers will benefit, but I think many seasoned bloggers can benefit from tips and tutorials. Heck, I read as many blogger advice articles that I can each day! There is a lot to know and things are changing by the minute. How do you keep up with the changing blogger times?
This post is going to discuss something that I am asked about all the time. If you are a frequent reader here on MamaNYC and enjoy product reviews, I am sure you have seen my FTC disclosure on the bottom of my blog posts. They look something like this ⇒
Who do I use an image for all of my disclosures, but other bloggers opt to type in their policy with basic text?
For starters, I think it is a great timesaver! I cannot imagine how tiring it would be to repeatedly type in the same message over and over for every review, giveaway, or other campaign post published on my blog. How exhausting! That’s the lazy side of my brain talking…
However, I do have a valid and VERY good reason for using an image and many bloggers are unaware of the damage they are causing by typing their disclosure policy into blog posts.
How can I break this down….?
Google requires disclosure policies.
Google frowns upon disclosure policies.
Yes, I know that is ridiculous and each statement obviously contradict the other, but that’s Google for you!
There are two different hats that you can wear in the world of SEO (search engine optimization): White Hat & Black Hat SEO.
White Hat SEO: You will do things the right way by educating yourself through books and online courses that show you how to improve your search engine rank position. You will email website owners asking for links directly. You call businesses and use your cordial and polite voice to ask if they want to exchange text links. This won’t work for long (or at all!) and eventually you give up and turn to the dark side….
Black Hat SEO: Consider this the dark side of search engine optimization, or the little red devil sitting on your shoulder. Suddenly you notice that thousands of other bloggers or site owners are doing something a certain way, so you assume they are using the best method. Wrong.
Remember when people used to hide keywords by using black text on a black background webpage? Highlight HERE and see what I mean –> BLOGGING 101! Highlighting the entire page would reveal the hidden words, or links. If my background was black, I could have hidden that word and used hundreds of phrases that have NOTHING to do with this post, but Google would think it did – and deliver traffic to my blog!
Google frowned against this (big time!) and many sites were penalized heavily. Everyone thought this was okay because thousands of page owners used this method to alert the search engines that all of these words were discussed in the content of that page. They basically lied to Google.
Back to what we were talking about… !
Having duplicate content on multiple sites or on the same blog is horrible for your search engine optimization. Google wants content that is relevant, unique, and they do not want to give users results that will have the exact same content from link to link.
- This is why guest posts that you write should only be published once – and not on your blog to "show" your readers an article that you provided on another blog.
- This is why bloggers that sign up for giveaway hop events should NOT comply with the host requiring that they insert the "REQUIRED TEXT" without rewording or changing anything.
- This is why your blog posts need to be different than the others that you feature on your own blog.
All of those are very important, but today we are going to talk about using a disclosure policy as an image instead of text.
HOW IT WORKS/THE BREAKDOWN →
 You want (and need) to comply with the FTC.
 This is an admission to Google that you are violating their best practices and policies.
 Dozens of sites are penalized for doing this every day. Many are obviously still shown in a search, but you do run a huge risk.
Wherever you are using your disclosure policy or any other warning, admission statement, or other duplicated content from blog post to blog post, I would exchange the text version of your policy for an image based disclosure in order to comply with the FTC and keep your relationship with Google in a good place.
Use an image authoring program such as Photoshop to craft a small image file that you can use in exchange for the duplicate text. You can create multiple disclosure images to suit any sort of scenario. Here are a few different policy images that I made for MamaNYC.
[ Review ] [ Self-Sponsored Giveaway ]
First thing you obviously need to do is craft a few different disclosure policy images. Get started by putting together a list of different post types that need a disclosure and frequently published on your blog. Examples include: review (received free product), giveaway (received monetary compensation), review and giveaway (received a free product in order to review and host a giveaway), self-sponsored giveaway (you purchased the prize yourself), and sponsored campaign posts (received monetary compensation).
Next, upload your images and name them appropriately so that you can find them again in your media library! My images all include the name "disclosure" in their titles, so I use this search term when looking for an image once my post is complete. Thereafter, I decide which policy relates to the post I am about to publish.
Another idea that you can try is to create an easy to locate Notepad or other text file that is easy to retrieve (placed on your desktop?). Insert the URL for each of the images and list them with a description so that you can identify which disclosure policy to use for each different post.
Need some help creating your disclosure policy images? Hire MamaNYC! Contact me for rates and details.
This is something I have started recently to tackle, but it is no easy task! Go back into your archives and dig up all of your old posts that include text for your disclosure policy.
Replace the text with your brand new image files and update the post. It is a time consuming and strenuous project, but setting aside just 10-minutes each day to handle 3-5 old posts will hopefully mean the job is done within a few weeks!