The mummy blogger community used to be one of the best around. It was huge, the bloggers were particularly engaging and a joy to collaborate with on content based campaigns. Unfortunately, in my experience, things have taken a downwards turn. They have fallen victim to the SEO onslaught and organised spam networks.
When I say “organised spam networks”, I’m talking of the likes of TOTS100 who have thousands of UK bloggers in their parent blogger network. This enables anybody to simply pay tots100.co.uk a fee and instantly reach out to all of these bloggers. In theory, I have absolutely no issue with the likes of TOTS100, they are in essence doing nothing wrong. The issue is with how the SEO community use TOTS100.
Companies and agencies will use this reach to do things such as mass product giveaways, holiday giveaways, sponsored posts or competition promotion. A task which would previously have taken a team weeks to complete can now be done in minutes, hence the popularity of such services. The issue is that a large number of blogs on these networks provide do follow links, therefore breaching Google guidelines. I will hold my hands up and say that I have certainly noticed the number of no followed link increase over the last 12 months on these networks, but they are still prevalent. I have also noticed the number of “sponsored post” disclaimers increase, yet they still give do follow links.
It has got to the point whereby whenever I see the tots logo on a blog, I assume the site is toxic. I will then dig around for about 2 minutes and find an example of why an individual site is toxic.
When you see a TOTS100 logo, you generally see other badges sitting under it (site-wide do follow image links), showing which other blogger networks the blogger is proud to belong to. Or alternatively put, which companies are compensating bloggers in some way in exchange for link love, making it particularly easy for the web spam team to identify guideline breaches.
There is no need to give specific examples of the blogs doing this, just go on pretty much any of the sites in the list and guideline breaches will hit you in the face in the matter of minutes.
As can be seen from the brands shown above, many of the UKs leading brands continue to use such networks. It is easy to understand why! On the face of it, it is a perfect solution (especially for agencies) as it takes very little time and money generally is not a big issue for outreach.
There are additional issues going on within the parenting bloggers community, which are directly related to the organised spam network affect. For example, it is almost impossible to genuinely engage with blogs who have an expectation of payment or compensation in some form. No matter how relevant and fantastic the content is you have, expect replies of “What is your budget?”.
I have focused largely on the TOTS100.co.uk (primarily because they are one of the largest in the UK), but there are many other similar networks such as Momcentral or the Mumsnet Blogger Network
The blame lies with SEOs for creating this mess, but I believe that the situation we have today will change with time, and the mummy blogger community will get back to its more genuine routes. This may take several years, but as marketers start to pay more attention to the connection between the likes of TOTS100 and organic penalties, approaches will change the organised spam networks will evolve.
Finally, I have picked specifically on parenting blogs because it is the focus of one of the oldest established blogger networks. Unfortunately, I could very easily have done the same within fashion, food, travel or interior bloggers.