Influencer marketing has proven to be a very effective way of driving more traffic to your website, and offering influencers a sample of your product or service, free of charge, is a tactic which has been used by businesses long before the Internet arrived.
The problem with the strategy is that Google now considers any links gained from influencer activities to be non-organic traffic, and lumps it in with paid advertising. That means your business could actually be penalized by having influencers endorse your products, even though you have no formal business arrangement with them.
Avoiding SEO penalties
The simplest way to avoid being penalized by Google for using influencer marketing is to have your influencer place a nofollow on their content relative to your business or product. There are also new guidelines which have been issued by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), so you should be very familiar with these before you engage in any kind of influencer marketing.
The best way to use influencer marketing so as not to hurt your SEO, is to clearly state that your business goal is simply to reach more of your targeted individuals and expand your audience, as opposed to obtaining favorable reviews or backlinks to your website. With this kind of objective clearly recognized by all parties concerned, there’s no way Google can penalize you for this kind of influencer marketing.
Influencers control their own websites
This fact alone should serve to basically help you avoid any SEO penalties imposed by Google, as long as you don’t openly disparage their guidelines on influencer marketing. Ultimately, only the influencer can control any content referring to your product, or including any backlinks to your website, so it’s really out of your control completely. When you do have any kind of arrangement with an influencer, you can safeguard your website and your SEO rankings, by asking them to nofollow their link to your website. This will accomplish your goal of expanding your audience, while not losing any ground on your search rankings with Google.