The Google link spam update was announced the other week – did you see it? Quite a few people did
and if you're the owner of a website that relies on the majority of its traffic coming from Google you might have started to worry.
In a slightly cryptic and vague blog post from Google, they announced a few changes including:
- what they want people to do with their affiliate links
- their thoughts on guest posts
If you have affiliate links or do guest blog posts then read on to find out the details.
Google Link Spam Update – My Thoughts
Essentially Google is trying harder to penalize the type of sites that sell spammy guest posts. Google clearly says that exchanging money for links in any way is a big no no.
If you have been buying guest post links, like I have, using a company like Niche Website Builders (affiliate link) I don't think you have too much to worry about – these guys are very careful where they get their links from. They do manual outreach and it is quite safe.
However, if you are using a similar company and not entirely sure where they are getting their links from, use with extreme caution.
The one part of this update that really sent people into a spin was what Google said about affiliate links. Basically, they said that you need to add a rel='sponsored' tag to affiliate links.
However, the reason people are panicking is that Amazon explicitly states that you must not embellish your relationship with them and that includes saying you are ‘sponsored' by Amazon.
Personally, I would ignore what Google said about adding the sponsor tag to links and just go for the classic rel='nofollow' – which I'm sure you've been doing anyway and is something that Google recommend.
To give you a more complete picture, I asked the opinion of some other niche website experts and here is what they said.
Shaun Marrs is a full-time content creator and uses his Youtube channel to document the growth of his businesses. Here are the main points that Shaun makes on the new update:
- Marking your links rel='sponsored' really doesn't matter. When Matt Cutts worked for Google he confirmed that the Google algorithm can work out if it's an affiliate link because of the referrer ID.
- John Mueller who has a similar role at Google right now has stated that he doesn't see sites being penalized for using nofollow instead of sponsored.
- Shaun currently has one site that has all it's affilliate links marked as ‘dofollow' and he'll be watching closely to how this update affects that site.
- Shaun reached out ot the AAWP team about adding the ‘sponsored' tag to links and was informed that this should happen soon and in his experience recommended changes are implemeted quickly.
- Niche Website Builders are also Shaun's go-to backlink providers and he agrees you should have no problems using them.
- Google claims that focussing on producing great content is enough to rank your articles. However, in his experience, any keyword that is medium level competition or above, you will struggle to rank for without some good backlinks.
You can find Shaun's Youtube channel here.
Most of you will know Carl. He's a regular on my channel and is an established affiliate marketer and Youtuber. Here are the key points that Carl makes about the Google link spam update:
- ‘No follow' has always been the guideline and that should continue but Google would also like you to mark some of them with ‘sponsored' to make it easier for Google to spot which links are actually sponsored links. However, there is a clear clash with Amazon terms and conditions and if you mark your links as sponsored, when in fact you are NOT being paid by Amazon, you risk jeopordising your place in the Amazon Associates program.
- Carl agrees that the best way forward is to continue to mark your affiliate links with ‘nofollow'.
- He believes the information that Google released in this update is confusing so he will continue with ‘no follow' and wait and see what happens next.
You can find Carl's Youtube channel here.
Doug is another friend of the WP Eagle channel and owns and operates many niche websites. Here's what Doug says on the matter:
- The new link spam update that's rolling out seems like it's another one of these updates that Google has been doing for several years to try to make spam and crappy links not as effective.
- Doug emphasises that this update is primarly directed at the websites that have used services that create links through PBNs, low quality guest posting and paid links.
- Google has done this several times in the past but perhaps this is more of a blanket update than directly penalizing sites that promote and sell these types of links.
- Doug plans to observe how this update will roll out over the coming weeks and months.
You can find Doug's Youtube channel here.
Mark And Adam From Niche Website Builders
Mark Mars and Adam Smith are the masterminds behind Niche Website Builders who, among many other things, offer link-building services.
- We think this is a 2021 version of the Penguin update but this time Google has figured out how to role it out to lots of other languages other than just English.
- If you are doing link building in the right way to start with, then you have nothing to worry about. Niche Website Builders only does white hat outreach to build links for websites.
- It's important to focus on white hat link building methods becuase you want to build a long term business – not take shortcuts and live in fear of losing everything overnight when Google catches up with you.
- We believe this is a really posisitve update for the industry.
You can find the Niche Website Builders Youtube channel here.
Thank you to everyone who contributed!
Hopefully, this has made the Google link spam update easier to understand so that you can implement changes accordingly on your own website.
If you are not currently using rel='no follow' on your affiliate links, you definitely need to do that and using a plugin like Rank Math can make it easy.
Don't worry about the rel='sposored' as that could potentially get you kicked out of the Amazon Associates program.
Be careful where you get your guest post links from and make sure you use a highly reputable company.
What do you think about the Google Links Spam update? Leave me a comment below, and good luck with your sites!