At the time of writing, Google is rolling out a search algorithm update — one that should be in full effect by the end of the month. Fittingly, Google has referred to the new tweak as the ‘December 2022 link spam update’ in a blog post announcing it.
The update is set to use Google’s AI-based, spam-preventing system SpamBrain to “neutralise the impact of unnatural links on search results”, as the Google Search Central Blog puts it. One crucial question here, then, is what exactly Google classes as “unnatural links”.
The battle against ‘link spam’
Google has previously disparaged what it dubs ‘link spam’ — with Duy Nguyen, Search Quality Analyst at the company, explaining in a July 2021 blog post: “Focusing on producing high-quality content and improving user experience always wins out compared to manipulating links.”
Basically, when inserting a link into a piece of content, you should primarily serve the user experience rather than attempt to press Google’s algorithmic buttons. Otherwise, you could too easily be tempted to ‘cheat the system’ — and, as a result, risk getting penalised by Google.
Let’s assume that you are part of an affiliates scheme, such as Amazon Associates, and want to give a product review or shopping guide a link to a product page or, indeed, more than one.
Google is generally fine with site owners using affiliate links like this for website monetisation purposes. However, Google asks for these links to be qualified with a ‘sponsored’ tag.
Similarly, if you attempt to make money by publishing sponsored articles marketers have provided to you, make sure the links in these articles will make contextual sense to the reader. If they reckon that a link looks ‘spammy’, chances are that Google will, too.
What will Google’s December 2022 link spam update do?
In the announcement of the update, Google has cautioned: “Ranking may change as spammy links are neutralised and any credit passed by these unnatural links are lost.” The search giant has also noted that the update will affect content of all languages.
The blog post continues: “Our algorithms and manual actions aim to nullify these unnatural links at scale, and we will continue to improve our coverage.”
So, now would be an especially good time for you to check that none of the links in your website’s content have been forced in just for the sake of reaching for an SEO benefit — one that you probably wouldn’t be able to tap into in this manner anyway.
Whatever you do, avoid succumbing to the dubious practice of mindlessly amassing backlinks from websites left, right and centre. This tactic is unlikely to fuel your own website’s SEO profile, or at least not for long — the site could instead end up getting penalised in Google search results.
If you need to add new content to your website, you could trust our SEO copywriters with penning that fresh text for you. These professionals are experienced with writing web copy in a way that leaves it feeling natural in both phrasing and linking.