Investis Ltd.

08/18/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 08/18/2021 12:38

Google’s Link Spam Update: Should You Reassess Your Backlink Profile?

On July 26, 2021, Google announced the launch of their new algorithm update referred to as the 'link spam update.' The update rolled out over the course of next two weeks and largely focused on identifying and nullifying link spam. Since the algorithm update can identify links across multiple languages, there is a wide range of links that may be affected.

According to Google's blog post, 'A reminder on qualifying links and our link spam update,' the best way to avoid being hurt by the update is to follow white hat practices and avoid methods that violate their guidelines for link schemes. Tagging your links appropriately was also on their list of things to do.

To ensure that your links will not be penalized by Google, use the following tagging conventions when applicable:

  • Affiliate links: 'rel=sponsored'
  • Sponsored links: 'rel=sponsored'
  • Guest posting: 'rel=nofollow'

What to Avoid

To avoid being hurt by this latest algorithm update, we recommend the following best practices when it comes to external linking:

  • Do not pay for links, especially if the link lacks relevancy to your page.
  • Avoid participating in link exchanges (i.e. 'You link to my site, I link to yours'). A relevant link exchange here and there may not hurt, but you don't want this to be your primary approach to link building.
  • Do not require links as part of a contractual agreement or business arrangement.
  • Do not use tools like link generators or content spinners.

Takeaways From the Link Spam Update

At the end of the day, if you are building authoritative links that are relevant to your products, services, and content, you shouldn't be losing any sleep over this latest algorithm update.

According to MOZ, link building is 'stronger than ever.' At Investis Digital, we view links as one of key pillars of SEO-right alongside authority and relevance. Building a quality backlink profile is still a crucial part of increasing your keyword ranking, and the link spam update emphasizes the importance of doing this in a way that follows Google's quality guidelines.

Where We Come In

We understand that the recent link spam update can be alarming-especially if your business has engaged in tactics like link exchanges or paid links in the past. If you're looking to clean up your backlink profile and build new, relevant backlinks, we're here to help. Over the years, our team has honed a variety of successful link building techniques.

Technical SEO

Our client process begins with a complete site audit. Making sure the structure of your site has integrity and is free from any programmatic issues is key to being indexed by search engines. A search engine should easily be able to crawl, render and index your site. It's important to remember that you can have some of the best content on the planet, but if you don't factor in crucial elements like site architecture, site speed and accessibility, it is unlikely that you're going to rank well in search engine results.

On-Page SEO

After we address any technical SEO concerns, we move to on-page SEO-specifically, we will look at whether your content is optimized for link building. One of the most important considerations for a content audit is relevancy. Here are a couple of questions you should ask yourself when creating or updating content for your website:

  • 'How well does this resonate with my target audience?'
  • 'Is this something that will be talked about for a week, a month, a year?'
  • 'Can I update this with more recent data and/or statistics?'

You don't want to oversaturate your content with keyword stuffing, too many hyperlinks or filler words. On the other hand, you don't want to be publishing thin content that only loosely explains the subject you're covering. To keep Google happy, keep your audience happy. If your content's primary focus is user experience, you should naturally be acquiring keywords and improving rankings.

Off-Page SEO

Once all of these elements are in place, we move on to off-page SEO. Off-page SEO focuses on PR, brand reputation, equity and-you guessed it-link building. If you immediately move into link building without making sure your technical and on-page SEO aren't optimized first, it can unravel everything you may have already worked on. Look at it as trying to start a car without an engine under the hood-you're not going to get very far.

We take a content-first approach to link building, as that is the most natural way to build links. Our team focuses on reviewing the most valuable linkable assets that are published on your site. This could include blog articles, infographics, calculators, career pages, 'About Us' pages, service locations, and other pieces of content.

Once we complete our review of your site and your available linkable assets, we begin our link building process. This usually looks something like this:

Step 1: Analyzing competitor backlinks and metrics

  • We run a backlink analysis on competitor domains to see what types of backlinks they are earning.
  • We look at similar content available on competitor websites. This can help us come up with content ideas that directly relate to your industry.
  • We analyze other elements of competitor websites, such as traffic, keyword authority and media presence.

Step 2: Using SEO tools to find linking opportunities

  • We find authoritative sites for linking opportunities using MozBar, which displays the site's Domain Authority and Page Authority.
  • We use tools such as Ahrefs and Majestic to identify existing backlinks to competitor domains. SEMrush can also be used to qualify sites based on traffic and keyword rankings.
  • Advanced Google search commands (for example, 'inurl:' or 'intext:') help us narrow down relevant web pages.

Step 3: Capturing unlinked brand mentions

  • Our team looks for mentions of your company or leadership on news publications and requests a backlink to be added to your website.
  • Consequently, we also keep an eye out for any unsavory media mentions that may impact the credibility of your site from a PR standpoint.

Step 4: Reclaiming lost or broken backlinks

  • Sometimes, established links get lost or broken. This may be due to a site migration or redirected URLs. In these instances, we'll reach out to webmasters and request a quick update to the correct URL.
  • Note: Google doesn't dismiss links for redirects-however, the less search engines have to travel to find your landing page, the better.

Step 5: Performing targeted link acquisition

  • We take your most valuable linkable assets and find the most authoritative pages to link to. We focus on leveraging evergreen content and resources to ensure the longevity of the backlink.
  • When searching for link opportunities, we prioritize authoritative top-level domains, such as .gov, .edu and .org. We also ensure that the websites we reach out to are relevant to your site's industry and subject matter.
  • Additionally, our team avoids websites that contain indicators of link spam.

Where We Stand

In 2020, our retention rate for client links was 96.7% across all clients. As the link spam update is rolled out, we will keep an eye on our metrics to make sure that our clients were only positively affected by this update. Rest assured that we take pride in our link building methods to ensure the best health for your website and your backlink profile.

Do you need assistance with your link building campaigns? Download our free whitepaper, 'How to Build Quality Backlinks That Impact Organic Search Visibility'. Or, reach out to Investis Digital today. Our team of SEO pros would be happy to discuss how we can help you build high-value links that move you up in the SERPs.