To deter illicit marketing strategies, Google continuously refines its Search algorithm. In earlier times, websites could attain high rankings through excessive keyword usage, irrespective of content quality. Nowadays, such practices can lead to penalties or even deindexing from Search results.
This underscores Google’s commitment to prioritizing user-centric quality, and this evolution is ongoing.
In December 2022, Google introduced the link spam update to counteract the impact of unnatural links on search outcomes. Similar to the recent “Helpful content update,” this release aims to enhance the quality of user-generated content.
But how might this impact your existing digital content approach? It may hinge on how you’ve previously managed unnatural links and link building.
Unpacking the Google Link Spam Update
The Google link spam update constitutes a modification to the Google algorithm aimed at addressing unnatural links, link spam, and other deceptive tactics that artificially elevate a website’s content authority, leading to higher rankings.
This update leverages SpamBrain, Google’s AI-powered system for spam prevention. Launched in 2018, SpamBrain represents Google’s most potent defense against spam and various forms of abuse. By 2021, it had identified six times more spam sites than the previous year, resulting in a 70% reduction in hacked spam and a 75% reduction in nonsensical spam on hosting platforms.
For the December 2022 link spam update, Google employed SpamBrain to enhance its Search algorithm’s ability to identify link spam and sites engaged in purchasing links. These sites were used to funnel outbound links and neutralize any unnatural links appearing on search engine result pages. According to Google, the update took roughly two weeks to be fully implemented.
This update comes on the heels of Google’s “Helpful content update,” which aimed to advance Google’s user-centric approach to content. This update rewarded original, useful content designed to address user queries.
Are Links to My Website Always Beneficial?
While they can be, it’s contingent on proper execution.
In the past, content marketing and SEO were primarily focused on keywords and their relevance to websites. However, Google’s algorithm has evolved to consider additional factors, including organic links.
Google views links as endorsements. If websites believe a page’s content is valuable to users, they will link to it. And if multiple websites link to the same page, it signals to Google that the page is valuable. This is why many digital content strategies include outreach for link building to establish a website’s content authority.
Whitehat link building employs ethical methods to secure links from other websites. When done correctly, internal and inbound links vouch for a website’s topical authority, indicating quality content that provides users with valuable context. However, it’s crucial that the linking websites are relevant to your industry or topic.
For instance, if you operate an online makeup store, you’d want organic links from beauty bloggers, fashion, and lifestyle websites. They might naturally mention your business and include organic links on their pages. Additionally, you can employ whitehat link building practices like outreach, sponsored links, and affiliate links.
Nonetheless, not all link building practices are ethical. In many cases, they can veer into spammy and unhelpful territory for users.
Black Hat SEO: When Do Links Cross into Spam Territory?
Spam links are those that, in Google’s estimation, attempt to manipulate the algorithm to artificially boost page rankings. If Google suspects that your tactics don’t align with what users are seeking, it might indicate that your website lacks high-quality or relevant content.
The challenge with detecting spam links is that it can flag websites that appear suspicious, whether or not they deliberately engage in spam link tactics. Either way, this could negatively impact your content marketing and overall digital marketing strategies.
Here are some types of questionable linking practices that Google’s latest update could flag:
- Comment Spam: Spammers leave links in comments on high-traffic pages, aiming to increase inbound links to those pages.
- Redirect Links: These links claim to lead to one website but redirect to another, potentially impacting bounce rates and rankings.
- Paid Link Spam: Affiliated and paid links can be acceptable if they come from relevant industry sources. However, out-of-place paid links without proper tags may be penalized.
- Spam Link Exchanges: Obvious reciprocal linking between two websites may raise flags.
- Link Farms: Low-quality websites created solely for selling links are likely to be flagged by Google’s algorithm.
How Will This Impact Your SEO Content Strategy?
If Google detects enough red flags indicating link spam tactics, your website could face penalties or even deindexing, adversely affecting your Search Engine Results Page (SERP) rankings.
Penalized websites often experience a significant drop in rankings. While your website might still appear on SERPs, pages associated with link spam could be filtered out. This means users won’t find those pages via search engines unless they specifically navigate to your website. This could disrupt your SEO content strategy, especially if competitors are offering immediate results for relevant pages. Excessive penalties could also impact performance if your digital marketing strategy includes ads.
In more severe cases, Google might deindex your entire website. This would render your website invisible on Google, severely impacting your search engine visibility. Depending on the extent of the violations, recovery may be possible. However, not all websites can fully rebound, so taking a proactive stance against link spam is advisable.
Content Marketing Best Practices for Google’s 2022 Updates
If your SEO content strategy involves inbound links, it’s crucial to understand the distinction between legitimate link building strategies and link spam tactics. An experienced SEO content strategist can guide you towards white hat practices that minimize the risk of penalties. With Google’s link spam update, here are some content marketing best practices you can adopt to steer clear of spam, unnatural links, or any links that might raise red flags:
- Exercise Care When Selecting Guest Blog Sites: Quality outweighs quantity. Many websites offer to host your guest blogs and links at low prices, but this could potentially harm your strategy. Avoid websites with low domain authority, minimal traffic, and a lack of a clear thematic focus.
- Combat Spam Comments: Google doesn’t just penalize websites with inbound links; it can also affect websites with spammy links. Consider disabling comments altogether if your website doesn’t require an open comments section. Alternatively, you can moderate comments before they’re published on your page to prevent spam comments from infiltrating your website.
- Steer Clear of Excessive Inbound Links: If Google observes that your website has amassed numerous inbound links in a short period, it could raise suspicions of purchasing links from dubious link farms. Collaborate with an SEO content strategist to ensure your inbound links appear organic.
- Engage Professional Writers: Google’s algorithm is progressively geared towards user-friendly content. Professional SEO content writing services know how to create quality guest blogs that adhere to SEO content best practices while offering value to users.
How Leadshouse Delivers Exceptional Content Marketing Strategies
At Leadshouse, we recognize that your website serves as a beacon for generating traffic that can potentially convert into leads or conversions. That’s why our team refrains from jeopardizing your business’s online visibility and reputation through black hat tactics that yield unsatisfactory results. We adhere to content marketing best practices based on Google’s guidelines and industry standards for reputable agencies.
To shield you from penalties or deindexing due to spam links, some of the services we provide include:
- Link Audit: Our strategists can conduct a comprehensive audit of your inbound links and leverage all available options to eliminate or modify links that might be flagged as spam. This could involve reaching out to web administrators on other websites or modifying content to use existing links to your advantage.
- SEO Content Writing Services: We collaborate with professional writers who understand the distinction between user-centric content and SEO-optimized content. Whether you require guest blogs for link building or web pages for quality content on your site, we can meet your content needs.
- Website Audit: There might be links within your website that are viewed as unnatural or manipulative. Our team can conduct a thorough audit of your website to ensure that every link contributes towards your website’s objectives. This encompasses the technical SEO, web design, and web development aspects of your site.
Establish Your Website’s Content Authority with Leadshouse
You can establish your website’s content authority by securing relevant third-party websites to link back to you. However, if mishandled, your inbound marketing links could backfire and be perceived as spam. This misstep could compromise your visibility on SERP rankings.
By partnering with a professional digital marketing agency like Leadshouse, you can minimize the risk of spam links. We employ SEO content best practices to ensure your website maintains top-notch quality and authority. Not all digital marketing professionals and companies deliver effective link building services, so entrust this task to a comprehensive team like ours for optimal results.
Reach out to Leadshouse today to explore our link building services for your digital content strategy.