Google search engine has constantly kept evolving in the last decade with the rollouts of new updates to their algorithms. Many websites had lost their rankings and traffic with the Panda, Penguin, and Google page experience update that were introduced in the past.
Now they have introduced the new update on July 26th. This one is called “Google Link Spam Update”. In this post, we shall look into what it does, and how it affects the search rankings of web pages.
We have also covered the best practices for this update from the information we have found from multiple online sources.
What is this new update?
Google Search Link Spam update is aimed at targeting the spam links. They have stated that it is their new efforts to improve the quality of search results and to fight the link spamming practices.
This new update will identify and nullify the spam links across websites. Websites that adopt Black-Hat techniques by using spam links are expected to see a dip in rankings after the rollout of this update. Besides English language sites, this update will affect websites of multiple languages.
This update however is not expected to penalize the websites or de-index them for having spammy links. What it does is ignores such links. Now nullifying link spam will affect your rankings, if those links helped in increasing the rankings of your web pages.
So basically the rakings of the website will take a hit. If you see a drastic dip in rankings of your pages in the coming weeks, then it could be safe to assume that it is because of this new algorithm update.
You will need to run an audit of your backlinks and make sure that they are used naturally, and not to spam. Make all efforts to improve your website, and also provide highly relevant content and appropriately tagged links on your off-site SEO practices. Don’t just try to replicate your competitors backlink strategies without providing highly relevant content and links.
So even if Google does not penalize the websites directly, the result still “might feel like a penalty”. The rankings of the web pages will be adversely affected.
As per Google, websites must practice the right practices for posting their links, whether is outgoing links on their site, or backlinks from other websites. They want the website owners to provide the best user experiences and highly relevant content, rather than indulging in ways to manipulate the links to solely improve the search rankings and traffic.
The best practice proposed for preventing the nullifying of links is by using the appropriate tags. Before getting to that, let’s understand more about the types of links that are targeted by this update.
What are the types of links that are covered under this Link Spam update?
This new Google update is targeting 3 types of links in particular.
Affiliate links – Links pointing to product pages at the online stores or eCommerce platforms.
Sponsored links – These are links that are posted as part of paid advertisement. It could be onsite or offsite
Poor quality links – These are the links that are posted along with relevant contents of directories, forums etc.
What are the best practices or solutions for dealing with this update?
Google suggests using proper tags in the HTML hyperlinks while using them. The rule applies to inbound and outbound links. Ideally, they want the link exchanging sites to qualify the links, to improve the search relevancy for their users.
- Affiliate Links – Affiliate links will have to be qualified with the proper tag as sponsored. The hyperlink should include the tag of rel=“sponsored” for these affiliate links
- Sponsored Links – These are the links that are placed on advertisements or sponsored posts. Again these links must have a rel=“sponsored” tag for qualifying the value exchange.
- Gust post links – In the case of links on guest posts, websites should qualify the links with the rel=“nofollow” tag.
WordPress Users can make the changes for adding the attributes by editing ‘functions.php’. Other website platforms might have to make the changes in each link individually.
What does this mean for SEO?
Guest blogging is one of the ethical means of helping websites in getting valuable backlinks, which in turn add to the search ranking points of a web page. This new update also calls for strategic changes by SEO companies and Blogger outreach services. They will have to follow the best practices for link building and stay away from any of the Black-Hat or unethical link spamming practices that might have worked for them in the past.
It is still not clear if the no-follow attribute has to be given to the contextual genuine links or is for the comments section, where the spam links are usually harvested. Many businesses simply keep pasting their links in the comments sections, without adding any value to the post. In most cases, these spam links are not relevant to the contents in any manner.
Now it will make an impact on the search rankings of such pages. Since there are no penalties announced, companies need not get into the mad rush of changing the backlink attributes. It is still unclear if 1 or 2 genuine contextual links on the blog posts will make a difference to the rankings.
Links on high domain-authority blogs will surely help in drawing a good volume of website traffic, but the above-mentioned tags are important for preventing the Google search from totally ignoring the links. Well-placed no-follow links have the capacities to draw huge volumes of targeted traffic to business sales pages.
Moreover, guest posts can extract more mileage from the social signals, even if they have no-follow links. Social media links are of high importance as they help businesses in engaging with their existing and potential customers. Good quality guest posts or highly relevant blogs will still be able to attract a lot of targeted traffic to your business web pages.