Disclosure Statements, PageRank, and To Follow or Not to Follow

As a blogger, there are certain rules that you need to follow if you wish to be taken serious and have your blog taken serious. One of those is providing your readers with a disclosure about the content that is found on your blog.

Back in the day, when I first started blogging in early 2004, having a disclosure page was enough to suffice. If your readers wanted to know about any disclosures regarding the content on your website, they could visit that page and check it out.

However, with changes made by Google and the Federal Trade Commission, you now need to have these disclosures on each post that you publish that they are applicable to. If you’re like me, there are often times when you know that you should add something but always seem to forget.

The mark of a good blogger is someone who can streamline the mundane and focus on what’s important – the blogging!

So having to remember to add your disclosure at the bottom of each post is one of those mundane tasks that you actually can streamline and only have to do once, or just type a shortcode at the end of each post! Before we get into the how I want to tell you about the why.

Three items that bloggers “freak out” about (at least here in the United States) are their Google PageRank, FTC Disclosure compliance, and whether to use do-follow or no-follow links in their posts. So we are going to look at those first.

disclosure-statements

Google Is Not God

It really irritates me when people act as though Google is the be all and end all for the blogging world. Google does not own you. Google does not own your blog. Google does not pay your web hosting fee every month. Google does not pay your domain name renewal every year. Google isn’t sitting there with you every day telling you what to publish on your blog and what not to publish. Your blog is just that, YOURS. Unless you’re blog is on the Google platform, Blogger, they don’t own you or your blog. But for purposes of this post we’ll say that they are Chairman of the Board, how’s that?

Google PageRank

Google officially closed the doors on their PageRank system in April 2016 – to YOU. While webmasters cannot see their PageRank any longer, Google is still using the PageRank system to determine, well, what pages rank and which don’t, but as part of a larger SEO picture and not exclusively your PageRank.

I would like to tell each of you though – stop freaking out about Google PageRank and using those numbers to measure the “worthiness” of your blog or website. PageRank is just one small fish in the ocean of SEO metrics and you need to look at the bigger picture and stop putting so much importance on that little number.

Learning more about SEO is as easy as doing a search on Amazon for free SEO books, or trolling the internet for information. Read about it, don’t be afraid of it. Learn it. Your blog, and your numbers, will thank you for it later.

Google’s Stand on Do-Follow and No-Follow Links

I agonized, literally, for years whether to use do-follow or no-follow links. I didn’t understand the lingo being a new blogger, and quite frankly, “back in the day” they weren’t all that clear about a lot of things.

Personally, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Google for many, many years. When I first started blogging (and didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing), I had Google AdSense installed on my blog, which was over on the Blogger platform at the time. Little did I know that it was against the rules to click on your own AdSense links on your blog, which I did quite frequently because they were showing stuff that I wanted so I clicked on the links to go to the website.

Google didn’t like that.

They yanked my AdSense account and stated that I could no longer have an account since I was clicking on my own links. If I disagreed with their decision, I could appeal it. Guess what? I’ve been appealing their decision since 2005 and I have yet to receive a response from anyone about anything.

So yeah, bite me.

For those of you that think the sun rises and sets with Google, however; and want to make sure you abide by all their crazy rules – here’s the skinny on using no-follow and do-follow links. You can find this information on the Google page here.

If you cannot – or simply don’t want to – vouch for the content of pages you link to from your site then you should no-follow those links. User comments and links left in comments should be no-follow links. Doing so will discourage the spammers from targeting your site.

If you want to recognize and reward trustworthy contributors to your blog, you can decide to use a do-follow attribute on links posted by contributors, members, or users who have consistently made high-quality contributions over time to your blog.

According to Google, a site’s ranking in Google search results is partially based on analysis of those sites that link to it. So for all intent purposes, the goal is to have people linking to your site right? Google urges you to prevent paid links from influencing search results and negatively impacting users by no-following such links.

If you think about it though, the whole point of you publishing something on your site from another blogger or website that you trust is because it contains information your readers are going to find useful – so why would you no-follow that link just because you might receive a payment or commission for it? That just makes no sense at all to no-follow a link.

Which brings us to our next topic … FTC Disclosures.

FTC Disclosures

In 2013, the Federal Trade Commission released some new guidance for mobile and other online advertisers explaining how to make your disclosures clear and conspicuous to avoid deception. You can download the updated Disclosures information PDF here. We’ve condensed that information below.

As a result of more and more people using their mobile devices to read and absorb information and with the rise in social media marketing to consumers, the updated guide emphasizes that consumer protection laws apply equally to marketers across all types of mediums – from the desktop computer to the print magazine sitting on your coffee table.

Your disclosure needs to be clear and conspicuous on all devices and platforms that consumers may use to view your ad/post, etc. You should not link to your disclosure on a separate page or in a pop-up, but should place it within proximity to the relevant ad/post and on the same screen and “as close as possible” to the relevant ad/post.

This article is going to show you how to put your disclosure on all of your blog posts automatically so that you never have to worry about forgetting again.

Utilize Your WordPress Theme

Depending on the theme that you are using, you may have a section already available called After Entry. To check, go to your WordPress dashboard, select Appearance and then Widgets to see if it is available. It should appear in your widget area as shown below if it is available.

After Entry Widget - Setting Your Disclosure Statement on Every Post

If this option is available with your WordPress theme, all you need to do is add a text widget under that entry and place your disclosure statement inside the text area and save it. You will then have the following disclosure appear after every single blog post automatically and you never have to think about it again. Below is a screenshot of the actual “after entry” text on Life in a House of Testosterone.

my-personal-after-entry-text-area2

As you can see, you can add anything to this text area. I have advertisements as well as my vote for me banner for Top Mommy Blogs in my area.

Don’t see the After Entry option on your theme in the widgets area? That’s okay! Here’s a nifty little plugin that will allow you to do all sorts of cool things with your blog – if you don’t already have it!

Download WP Edit Plugin

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a plugin junkie but there are only a handful that I absolutely could not live without – and WP Edit is one of those plugins. Go download and install it. I’ll wait.

Ready? WP Edit has a ton of features in the free version (which is what you just downloaded) that you can check out on your own. For purposes of this tutorial though, we are going to focus on the Extras tab within the WP Edit settings.

wp-edit-settings

So once you have installed it, scroll all the way down the left side of your dashboard until you see WP Edit next to the little gear icon. When you click on that, then you will be taken to the next screen.

WP Edit allows you to customize your blog posts once and done!

This is your WP Edit settings screen. Once you click on the Extras tab you will see this screen above. Granted yours will be blank, but we’ll take care of that really quick! The great thing about this section of WP Edit is that, anything that you put in this section will show up every where you have the signoff shortcode. So if you’re blog does not have the after entry option you can add your disclosure to the bottom of your post by simply adding signoff in brackets [] at the end of each post you publish.

You can see my signoff at the end of each blog post. If you want, you can even add the signoff shortcode in your sidebar as a text widget!

standard-text-widget-added-to-the-sidebar-with-the-signoff-shortcode

Once you hit save and go to your blog – you’ll see your test widget with whatever information you have saved in your Signoff Text area in WP Edit!

my-test-widget-on-the-blog-that-shows-my-signoff-shortcode-information

So now you can customize your information that you want to appear at the end of every single blog post.

Blogger Blogs

If you have your blog hosted on the Blogger platform, you can still do this as well. You need to go to your Blogger dashboard and then scroll down your menu on the left to your Settings and then click on the Posts, comments and sharing selection.

blogger-sidebar

Once you are there, go down the page a short bit and find the Post Template area and add whatever information you would like. You can include advertisements in this area along with your disclosure and a pretty little signature tag if you want.

add-your-information-to-post-template-in-blogger

Unfortunately this will not automatically be added to your older blog posts. You will need to go in and add the information to each previous blog post individually if you want it to appear on every blog post. However, it will now show up on all of your new blog posts.

blogger-post-example

So there you go! That’s how you add your disclosure statement automatically to your blog post in a variety of ways for both WordPress and Blogger!

So What Do I Write?

A disclosure statement can be written so that it is uniquely your own. Look at the disclosure statements of other bloggers that you enjoy reading. Here are a few examples of disclosure statements that I enjoyed reading.

  • David Lebovitz
  • Avitable.com (He’s a real lawyer too if you need one. We can’t vouch for the advice you’ll get though.)
  • Disclosure (simply because the little shits kept showing up in my search whenever I fact-checked something)

This is the same disclosure statement that I use on Life in a House of Testosterone:

Life in a House of Testosterone blogs in accordance with the FTC Guidelines. Please note that I may receive products, money, or other forms of compensation for reviews, posts and/or advertisements. We bring you valuable, informative information and fun products to enhance your life and we do so with opinions that are 100% our own and never influenced by others or compensation.

Affiliate links may be found in this post. If you make a purchase from one of our links, we may earn a small commission. The owner of this blog thanks you for the glass of wine your purchase will provide her with, or the bag of cheeseburgers that it gets Teen #1 and Teen #2.

There’s always my personal favorite – the funny disclosures:

This belongs to Get Checks Cheap - Ask Permission Before You Use It!

Or you can go for what I call the “stuffed shirt” version:

I may receive monetary compensation or other types of compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, and links to any products or services from this blog. This site may contain affiliate marketing links, which means I may receive a commission on sales of those products or services that we write about. The editorial content is not influenced by advertisers or affiliate partnerships. I always provide you with my own thoughts, concerns, and recommendations about the subject matter on this blog. This disclosure is provided in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR § 255.5: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Feel free to use what I’ve listed above, add your own spin to it, change it up to suit your blog. Make the change and automate your disclosure statement to free you up for what you really want to be doing – blogging!

The most important thing to keep in mind when you use a “cover all items” disclosure is that you make sure you add in that you may receive compensation in some form (be it money, product, reciprocal links, etc.) and if you do affiliate links in your post, that you disclose that as well.

Disclaimer: I am not an attorney, although I was a legal assistant for over 18 years. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney who actually attended law school, or call Avitable.

Disclosure: I didn’t get paid a single penny for this post. Even though hubby wanted Pepsi, Teen #2 wanted to go to the football game, and Teen #1 wanted food (what else) and a Monster drink.

Thanks so much for stopping by. Remember to be kind to one another today. You may be the answer to someone's prayers.

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• Disclosure •

I have hungry teenagers. Who eat constantly. As a result, you may find affiliate links to products and services in this post. If you click on one of our links and make a purchase, we will earn a small commission that will enable me to feed the bottomless pits or buy myself a glass of wine to keep my sanity intact. We also don't want to anger the Federal Trade Commission so in accordance with the FTC Guidelines, we want you to know that we may receive products, money, or other forms of compensation for reviews, posts and/or advertisements. All opinions are 100% our own and simply put, if we don't like it, you won't find it here because we won't endorse it. We bring you valuable, informative information and fun products to enhance your life because we're all about sharing the cool stuff.

 

 

One comment

  1. Just to show how very much of a love/hate relationship I have with Google ... just today I received a warning from Google+ indicating that I was attempting to "facilitate the sale of regulated goods or services, or promoting regulated goods and services to inappropriate audiences, which is not permitted." I'm really curious to see if they will provide me with this reported post that I made.

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