After a summer of frequent updates, Google has launched yet another update to its algorithm. This time, they’re targeting link spam.
Google announced on July 26 that it would begin rolling out what it is calling a ‘link spam update.’ This follows a pair of spam updates that were rolled out in June.
In a blog post, the search engine company wrote that “links are one of the ways Google understands what content may be helpful to searchers, and they can be good for sites to receive, as long as they’re well deserved. A best practice is to avoid methods of acquiring links that violate our guidelines against link schemes.”
Specifically, the update will target links that Google identifies as unfair or deceptive. Google will nullify these links, meaning that sites won’t face any direct punishment, but will lose out on the benefits that their links would have provided.
What is Link Spam?
Good-quality links can improve a page’s SEO score. However, not all links are obtained in an ethical and transparent way.
Many of the problematic ways that sites obtain links can fall under the umbrella of ‘link schemes’ – these are defined by Google as “any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results.”
Examples of link schemes may include low-quality sponsored posts (or guest posts), or link exchanges with other content creators.
It’s important to note that you may notice a drop in rankings even if you do not participate in link schemes. Google’s algorithm is not perfect when it comes to differentiating between genuine links and spam, and your links may get nullified.
What’s Google’s Advice?
“Site owners should make sure that they are following the best practices on links, both incoming and outgoing,” they suggest. “Focusing on producing high-quality content and improving user experience always wins out compared to manipulating links. Promote awareness of your site using appropriately tagged links, and monetize it with properly tagged affiliate links.”
Google says the update will continue to roll out over the next two weeks. We recommend keeping a careful eye on your site’s performance over this period.