Google Link Spam Algorithm Update: What to Know

Google has begun rolling out its link spam update, which will make its algorithm more effective at identifying and nullifying link spam. The update is the latest in several Google algorithm updates that have taken place so far in 2021. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about the Google link spam algorithm update, and how to avoid losing valuable search rankings. 

Google Link Spam Algorithm Update

Google Link Spam Algorithm Update

The Google link spam algorithm update began rolling out on Monday, July 26, and will take at least two weeks to roll out broadly across search results in multiple languages, according to Google’s announcement. 

The announcement from Google starts as a reminder to mark up affiliate content with the appropriate rel values. The search engine wants site owners to pay attention to its guidance on how to handle links within content where there’s an exchange of content involved. 

The search engine also warns that ranking changes might be in store for some site owners. 

“Sites taking part in link spam will see changes in Search as those links are re-assessed by our algorithms. As always, site owners should make sure that they are following the best practices on links, both incoming and outgoing. Focusing on producing high quality content and improving user experience always wins out compared to manipulating links. Promote awareness of your site using appropriately tagged links, and monetize it with properly tagged affiliate links,” according to Google. 

Google also insinuates in its post on the link spam update that there will be a specific emphasis on targeting links from sponsored, guest, and affiliate content.

Google Link Tag Best Practices

Google reminds site owners in the announcement to qualify links appropriately when linking to other sites. Remember that websites are required to add tags to links when a value exchange occurs between the two domains. Specifically, Google notes affiliate links and links from sponsored content and guest content. Google might issue manual actions when it finds sites that fail to qualify these kinds of links appropriately, so let’s go over Google link tag best practices. 

Here are Google’s recommendations for each kind of link: 

Affiliate Links

Google asks websites participating in affiliate marketing programs to qualify these links with rel=”sponsored”, whether the links were created manually or dynamically. 

Links from Sponsored Posts

Any links that are advertisements or paid placements (also called paid links) should be marked up with the value rel=”sponsored”. 

Links from Guest Posts

Make sure to mark up links from guest posts with the rel=”nofollow” value.

Google link tag best practices

How to Avoid Losing Rankings in the Google Link Spam Algorithm Update

Make sure to follow Google’s link tag best practices and qualify your links appropriately. This will help you avoid losing search rankings with this update.

“A best practice is to avoid methods of acquiring links that violate our guidelines against link schemes,” according to Google’s reminder on qualifying links and link spam update.

If you need additional help making sure your site adheres to Google’s standards, contact SEO Design Chicago’s search engine optimization experts to assist you! 


  • What is the Google link spam algorithm update? 
  • When did the Google link spam algorithm update start?
  • What are Google link tag best practices? 
  • How do I avoid losing search rankings with the Google link spam algorithm update?
  • Can the Google link spam update affect my rankings?

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