Google has rolled out a new search update known as the link spam update. The update is focused on identifying and nullifying link spam more broadly across multiple languages.
The update has been rolled out on July 26th, 2021, and the rollout will be complete in two weeks. During this rollout, the sites involved in the link spam are expected to see significant changes.
Google’s Official Announcement
Google has announced this update with a blog post, reminding websites to follow the best practices on link building and emphasize more on the commercial nature of the links.
If you monetize your websites and blogs with affiliate links or sponsored and guest posts, it's very important to qualify these 🔗 🔗 links. Learn more about commercial links and link spam → https://t.co/piENjy5azO pic.twitter.com/joqIvPFXlE
— Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) July 26, 2021
The blog post recommends using the rel=”sponsored” attribute for all affiliate links added to your website and a more relevant variant (nofollow or sponsored) when it comes to links targeted on a sponsored or guest post.
How The SEO Community Is Reacting
Following Google’s recommendations, webmasters were interested in knowing if sites using nofollow instead of the sponsored attribute will be penalized. Google’s John Mueller has responded on Twitter as there is no need to rebuild your sites to shift from nofollow to sponsored (if you’re already using rel=”nofollow”). But for any new website, it would be nice to get started with the better-fitting variant.
I can't speak for all possible futures, but I don't see that happening. There's no need to rebuild your sites to shift from nofollow to sponsored, but using the better fitting variant on new sites would be nice.
— 🌽〈link href=//johnmu.com rel=canonical 〉🌽 (@JohnMu) July 27, 2021
What Next – Dealing With This Update
With this link spam update, Google is taking a step forward in dealing with link spam, and as announced, sites that are taking part in link spam are expected to be affected the most with this update, as the algorithm would reassess all these links.
During the next two weeks, if you notice a significant impact in your search performance, and if you haven’t added nofollow or sponsored attribute for link types suggested by Google, then it is high time to get started with the recommendations.
Given the large size of the website and the number of existing links to external domains, adding nofollow manually to each link would be tedious. Rank Math can help you scale up this process by adding nofollow to all external links (and perhaps if you want to nofollow only specific external domains).
Note: The rollout of the update was slower than what was initially planned and finally concluded on August 24, 2021.
The link spam update is now complete.
— Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) August 24, 2021