Google is not normally in the habit of announcing its more modest algorithm updates, something that suggests this weeks ‘link spam update’ could be a big deal.
SEO-watchers have been expecting the link spam update to land for some time, which would see Google taking a more proactive approach to discouraging spam links.
The search engine said that the new adjustment to the algorithm will make it “even more effective at identifying and nullifying link spam more broadly, across multiple languages.”
Google has made no secret of its stance against spam links and low-quality purchased links, with some of its top-dogs having taken to Twitter as of late to warn against all forms of backlink buying.
“So I think first of all, like you probably recognised, artificially building links, dropping links on other sites, buying links, all of that is against the webmaster guidelines,” said John Mueller, in response to a direct question on purchasing high-authority backlinks from reputable sites.
“And we take action on that algorithmically, we take action on that manually. And the actions that we take include demoting the site that is buying the links, demoting the site that is selling the links. Sometimes we also take more subtle action in that we just ignore all of those links.”
July 26 Algorithm Update Confirmed
Google stated that the update would be rolled out over the course of two weeks, starting July 26. A post was published entitled “a reminder on qualifying links and our link spam update,” which again reaffirmed the brand’s commitment to stamping out low-quality links.
An extract from the blog post reads as follows:
“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.”
The response from most SEOs has been predominantly positive, who for the most part share Google’s sentiments on spam links.
Google’s statement suggests that while spam links will be nullified by the new algorithm update, the site in question will not be penalised for having them in the first place.
Those who experience a drop in rankings over the next couple of weeks attributed to this update are not being hit with a penalty; they may simply be seeing the effects of their spam links being ignored by Google.
There are those who believe that the update in its current form simply does not go far enough. In a comment submitted to Search Engine Round Table, a user by the name of ‘Andy Cash’ highlighted the extent of the problem.
“People often buy backlinks because it’s the least-spammy thing they can do which will allow them to compete with the sites doing really spammy stuff. They get backed into a corner because Google continuously fails to address the real spam issues,” he said.
“For example, one of my competitors has thrown out hundreds of mentions on Medium posts – all spun unreadable content. It shouldn’t work but it does, and gave them a significant uplift, despite their site being a pile of shite in every way possible. Another just 301’s expired (irrelevant) domains to their site.
“So, while those buying links might get targeted by this update, the underlying problems still exist. Potentially decent sites get demoted for trying to survive, while the churn and burn opportunists are left untouched and unchallenged. If this happens, we’re going to see more spam, not less.”