As of July 26, Google began rolling out a link spam update which would continue to roll out over the following 2 weeks.
This Google algorithm update targets links deemed to be spammy. As ever, Google is looking to improve the quality of the search results, and the new update (dubbed the “link spam update”) looks to fight link spam.
In Google’s words:
This algorithm update, which will rollout across the next two weeks, is even more effective at identifying and nullifying link spam more broadly, across multiple languages. Sites taking part in link spam will see changes in Search as those links are re-assessed by our algorithms.https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2021/07/link-tagging-and-link-spam-update
Google’s advice is to follow the best practice on links, and continue to produce top quality content with a great user experience. Using links purely to manipulate rankings is not something Google will reward – Google will reward sites which produce content people want to read and engage with. Google has stresses that you can promote awareness of your site with appropriately tagged links, and monetise it with properly tagged affiliate links.
Links are one of the ways Google understands what content may be helpful to searchers, and they can be good for sites to receive, as long as they’re well deserved. A best practice is to avoid methods of acquiring links that violate our guidelines against link schemes. In particular, if you’re linking out to other sites, make sure to qualify those links appropriately. Here are some more specific guidelines to help site owners manage links that involve payment, sponsorship, or are otherwise commercial in nature.https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2021/07/link-tagging-and-link-spam-update
When it comes to affiliate links, websites with affiliate programs should qualify links with rel=”sponsored. If websites do not qualify affiliate links, Google may issue manual actions in order to prevent these sites from gaming the system and gaining a foothold in the rankings.
With sponsored posts and guest posts, there are a variety of ways to qualify these links, as Google looks to crack down on link schemes whereby site owners and businesses produce low-quality posts which are solely produced to gain links. Google advises to qualify outbound links with rel=”sponsored” where links are paid placements or advertisements, or rel=”ugc” where links are user-generated content such as comment or forum posts. You should also nofollow links when the other values do not apply, and you do not want to associate your site with the site which is linked.
All in all, most businesses need not be concerned regarding the new update from Google. If you are producing content suitable for your audience without manipulating links via link schemes or otherwise, you are in the clear.