Google's Algorithm Link Spam Update: What Does This Mean For SEO?

In December 2022, Google announced its Link Spam Update along with its Helpful Content Update which was announced earlier in the year, yet the full rollout was released in mid January.

The Link Spam Update is Google’s new form of leveraging its AI-based spam-prevention system SpamBrain to fight link spam.

Besides simply fighting spam directly, it will work to target sites which are both buying links as well as sites specifically used for the purpose of passing outgoing links.

What does this mean for SEO? Well, if you have any bought or “spammy” links, get ready to potentially be hit by Google’s spam update, losing ranking and having unnatural links fully neutralized.

How to avoid this? Google is incredibly strict on how you can obtain links to simply boost search rankings, alongside the quality of links passed to other sites - your first step is to take a look at what you’re linking out to on your site.

Embedding an outgoing link requires the rel=nofollow tag within your code, or you certainly run the risk of getting hit with the link spam update.

The quality of the sites you link out to also matters. Going through and double-checking whether links are broken, sites are down or haven’t been updated in what seems like decades, as well as the general quality of the site itself are all important steps to keep in mind.

If you’re generally linking out to trusted sites, then this most likely won’t be an issue. What do you think about Google’s new Link Spam Update? Will this give sites lower down the SERPs a greater chance to now rise up the ladder? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

It’s interesting, for the longest time there has been a debate as to whether linking “out” to other authority sites would be seen as a quality or ranking signal.

SEO’s often nofollowed everything in order to conserve pagerank.

For me, to be honest, I don’t mind sending PR out into the world. It just makes sense that you would want to be associated with high rankings sites that are also clearly of high quality and relevant to the topic.

I think Hubspot would agree, based on this article on external linking & SEO

For local real estate sites (what most folks are interested in) what are your thoughts? Do you link out to other sites with dofollow links?

Absolutely, I think the most important aspect to consider within the topic is that the quality of the links heavily transcend the importance of the quantity.

Google has a tendency to release some updates which seem more like “scare factors” to ward off any creators or businesses out there who think they can get away with some of the more spammy content they think won’t be noticed.

At the end of the day, external linking, especially for local real estate SEO, can be very beneficial. Getting links from trusted local businesses with high-quality sites can both increase your exposure to potential customers in your area, and build credibility and authority in Google’s eyes that you’re both a reliable and trusted source.

A few high-quality links will always trump many low-quality ones, especially as Google looks to crack down on these links more than ever before.