Google is continuing to improve the ability to detect spam with the Link Spam Update. This update detects links that have been purchased and domains that exist mainly to sell links to other sites.
The update began at the end of December but will take about two weeks to roll out completely. It utilizes SpamBrain, which is the AI based system to prevent spam. This system already detects spam automatically. With the new update, it will be able to detect sites that are buying links just for ranking purposes. SpamBrain will also be able to identify sites that build outgoing links.
What Can You Expect?
You may wonder how this Google update will affect your site. Google has advised websites that rankings may change. The system will remove any signals that pass on to the domain that is being linked to. The update will have an effect on websites in all languages.
How you acquire any links you use on your website and how you link to other pages will determine whether the update will impact your ranking. For example, you may embed an affiliate link in the content on your website. To prevent this link from being impacted, you need to have it qualified with a rel+sponsored tag. Failing to do this is one reason your site could get hit by the update.
If you have guest posts on your website, you’ll need to use the rel+nofollow to tag the links. Without that, your site could get in trouble with Google.
Google looks for natural links and the new update penalizes those sites that have been set up with links for the sole purpose of increasing rankings. If the links are natural, you likely won’t see an impact from the link spam update.
How to Protect Your Site
The best recommendation for site owners comes from Google. It’s recommended that they follow best practices on incoming and outgoing links. The focus should be more on producing content that is high quality and improving the experience of the user, which will attract new links naturally over time. It’s more effective than trying to manipulate links in the short term. You can promote awareness of your site by using links that are appropriately tagged. Monetize the site with affiliate links that are also tagged correctly.
Links continue to be an important part of SEO, but Google proves there are no shortcuts to creating a quality site. Review your links and Google’s best practices to ensure you’re safe from this link spam update.