25 Aug, 2021

Google Link Spam Update Released

Google Link Spam

Link building is a crucial SEO strategy that allows you to generate referral traffic and increase your authority, amongst other things. However, as with everything in life, overdoing it can do more harm than good. This is especially true now that the new Google link spam update is up and running. 

A Quick Overview of the Link Spam Update

Recently, folks at Google announced that they have started rolling out what they call the “link spam update” as part of their continued efforts to provide users with better and more accurate search results. The update was launched on July 26th, and it would take at least two weeks for it to take full effect. 

The search giant warned that the link spam update, which would affect search results in multiple languages, is more adept at identifying and nullifying link spam. As a result, certain site owners are likely to experience fluctuations in search rankings during the said period. 

The update mainly focuses on links from sponsored, guest, and affiliate content. Because of this, the search giant is reminding everyone to mark affiliate content with the correct rel values and avoid link acquisition strategies that violate Google’s link scheme guidelines. 

To help site owners avoid a potential penalty, Google offered a few helpful pointers. 

Affiliate Links

Affiliate links provide site owners with the opportunity to monetise their blogs or websites, particularly if they publish shopping guides and product reviews. While Google recognises that such a practice is allowed and widely accepted, sites that run affiliate programs should qualify such links with rel=”sponsored”. This should be done on affiliate links that were either manually or dynamically created. 

If a site owner fails to qualify their affiliate links appropriately, they could receive manual actions from Google. When a site has a manual action lodged against them, some or all parts of it won’t appear in search results. Google’s systems might also take algorithmic actions against the offending website. Similar to a manual action, algorithmic actions can also affect how a website appears on Google. 

The search giant explained that such stringent measures are necessary to prevent these links from hurting all search results. 

Besides posting affiliate links, it is also common amongst site owners to accept sponsored and guest posts from other sites to generate extra traffic and income. However, if your website has plenty of low-quality sponsored and guest posts whose primary purpose is only to create links, you might receive a penalty as part of the Google link spam update. 

To dodge a manual and/or algorithmic action, the search giant is encouraging site owners to apply the correct rel values to links featured on sponsored and guest posts. For instance, links on guest posts should be tagged with rel=”nofollow”, while links on sponsored posts should be marked with rel=”sponsored”. 

Link Schemes to Avoid

Over the years, Google has gotten better at nullifying link schemes. However, the search giant is still urging all site owners to observe the best link building practices and avoid strategies that could hurt their search ranking. Some of the link schemes you must stay away from include: 

  • Buying or selling links, including the exchange of goods and services.
  • Sending someone free product samples to encourage them to write about the products and include links in their write-ups.
  • Excessive “link to me and I’ll link to you” exchanges.
  • Creating links via automated programmes or services.
  • Running large-scale guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links. 

Always Follow Link Building Rules

With Google releasing a new update to beef up its campaign against spammy links and questionable link building practices, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. By observing the best practices and using only approved strategies, you can avoid a potential Google penalty that could hurt your site’s rankings. 

Thus, to reiterate, make sure to:

  • Mark links in affiliate or sponsored content with the rel=”sponsored” value; and
  • Apply the rel=”nofollow” tag to links in guest posts. 

Do you have limited knowledge of link building? Or perhaps you’re too busy to apply the correct rel values to your links? Whatever the case may be, we at Springhill Marketing are always happy to lend you our expertise. If you need help devising an effective and Google-approved link building strategy for your business, our team of experienced SEO experts can draw up a bespoke plan just for you. Please get in touch with us to get started.

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