Google completed rolling out its link spam update on August 24, 2021, according to Google Search Central.
Google notes that this particular update was part of its continued efforts to improve the quality of search results for its users, which is the underlying motivation for pretty much every algorithm update, such as the recent Page Experience update which also completed rolling out on September 2, 2021.
In this post, you’ll learn what the link spam update entails, what Google aims to achieve, and why the update matters for enterprise and multi-location brands.
What is the Link Spam Update?
The link spam update was designed to help Google lessen the impact of link spam on its search results. Google has nothing against webmasters and site owners monetizing their content. However, it is important that outbound links have the correct annotation and are used properly so the search engine can differentiate business-related monetization from spam activities that mislead users.
Google announced the beginning of its Link Spam Update rollout on July 26.
If you monetize your websites and blogs with affiliate links or sponsored and guest posts, it’s very important to qualify these 🔗 🔗 links. Learn more about commercial links and link spam → https://t.co/piENjy5azO pic.twitter.com/joqIvPFXlE
— Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) July 26, 2021
In the associated announcement on the Google Search Central blog, Search Quality Analyst Duy Nguyen wrote:
“In our continued efforts to improve the quality of the search results, we’re launching a new link spam-fighting change today — which we call the ‘link spam update.’ This algorithm update, which will roll out across the next two weeks, is even more effective at identifying and nullifying link spam more broadly, across multiple languages. Sites taking part in link spam will see changes in Search as those links are re-assessed by our algorithms.”
What Do Brands Need to Know About the Link Spam Update?
Enterprise brands face unique challenges of scale in ensuring that all links on websites, local pages, blog posts, and more — both internal and outbound — follow best practices.
Avoiding link schemes is a top priority.
Google defines link schemes as any link “intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results.” This can include buying or selling links, sending free product or other rewards in exchange for review writing, link exchanges, large scale article marketing or guest posting, and more.
But simply not doing the wrong thing is just a start.
It’s important that enterprise brands have a content management system that allows the brand to establish permissions and a workflow for new content and content updates, as well.
Local managers can be allowed to update essential business information such as business hours, for example, with more substantial updates submitted for review. This gives the brand an opportunity to check link quality and ensure that any sponsored, affiliate, or other links are properly annotated.
Next, use the appropriate rel= attribute to tell Google about any relationship with the page you’re linking to.
The relevant rel= values available to publishers are:
- rel=“sponsored” – This tells Google that the link is a paid placement or advertisement, such as you might use with sponsored content on another blog.
- rel=“UGC” – This tells Google the page you’re linking to contains User Generated Content such as blog comments or forum posts.
- rel=“nofollow” – This tells Google that the two annotations above don’t apply, yet you would rather Google not crawl that link from your site. You may be referencing the content as a citation, for example, but do not endorse its authenticity.
Learn more about each of these rel= attributes and how to use them in this Qualify your outbound links to Google resource.