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Google Discusses Its New Official Link Rules

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Google Discusses Its New Official Link Rules
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Google has some new rules for the kinds of links it allows (or doesn’t allow, rather). The concepts are actually not exactly new, but Google has updated its official documentation to reflect its views of certain kinds of links.

Are you concerned with following Google’s rules for links on the web? Does Google have too much power over how people treat their content? Let us know what you think in the comments.

As you may know, one of the things Google says in its Quality Guidelines to avoid is participation in link schemes. Google has updated the link schemes page, as Search Engine Land (tipped by Menaseh) recently reported.

Now included as things that qualify as link schemes are:

  • Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links
  • Advertorials or native advertising where payment is received for articles that include links that pass PageRank
  • Links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites.

Guest posts have been discussed numerous times recently. A recent article at HisWebMarketing.com suggested that “high quality guest posts can get you penalized.

Google talked about the topic in several videos (which you can watch here if you want to spend the time doing so).

In one video, Matt Cutts said that it can be good to have a reputable, high quality writer do guest posts on your site.

He also said, “Sometimes it get taken to extremes. You’ll see people writing…offering the same blog post multiple times or spinning the blog posts, offering them to multiple outlets. It almost becomes like low-quality article banks.”

“When you’re just doing it as a way to sort of turn the crank and get a massive number of links, that’s something where we’re less likely to want to count those links,” he said.

“Generally speaking, if you’re submitting articles for your website, or your clients’ websites and you’re including links to those websites there, then that’s probably something I’d nofollow because those aren’t essentially natural links from that website,” Google’s John Mueller said in another video.

In another video, Mueller said, “Think about whether or not this is a link that would be on that site if it weren’t for your actions there. Especially when it comes to guest blogging, that’s something where you are essentially placing links on other people’s sites together with this content, so that’s something I kind of shy away from purely from a linkbuilding point of view. I think sometimes it can make sense to guest blog on other peoples’ sites and drive some traffic to your site because people really liked what you are writing and they are interested in the topic and they click through that link to come to your website but those are probably the cases where you’d want to use something like a rel=nofollow on those links.”

Cutts said in a recent interview with Eric Enge, “The problem is that if we look at the overall volume of guest posting we see a large number of people who are offering guest blogs or guest blog articles where they are writing the same article and producing multiple copies of it and emailing out of the blue and they will create the same low quality types of articles that people used to put on article directory or article bank sites.”

“If people just move away from doing article banks or article directories or article marketing to guest blogging and they don’t raise their quality thresholds for the content, then that can cause problems,” he said. “On one hand, it’s an opportunity. On the other hand, we don’t want people to think guest blogging is the panacea that will solve all their problems.”

Advertorials are another thing Google has been cracking down on recently. Cutts put out a video specifically addressing this topic a few months ago.

“Well, it’s advertising, but it’s often the sort of advertising that looks a little closer to editorial, but it basically means that someone gave you some money, rather than you writing about this naturally because you thought it was interesting or because you wanted to,” he said. “So why do I care about this? Why are we making a video about this at all? Well, the reason is, certainly within the webspam team, we’ve seen a little bit of problems where there’s been advertorial or native advertising content or paid content, that hasn’t really been disclosed adequately, so that people realize that what they’re looking at was paid. So that’s a problem. We’ve had longstanding guidance since at least 2005 I think that says, ‘Look, if you pay for links, those links should not pass PageRank,’ and the reason is that Google, for a very long time, in fact, everywhere on the web, people have mostly treated links as editorial votes.”

More on all of that here.

Finally, with regard to the optimized anchor text in articles or press releases thing, Google gives the following example of what not to do:

There are many wedding rings on the market. If you want to have a wedding, you will have to pick the best ring. You will also need to buy flowers and a wedding dress.

I wonder if that’s a real sample.

Barry Scwhartz from Search Engine Roundtable jumped in a hangout to ask Mueller some questions about press releases:

He recaps:

John Mueller from Google makes it clear that Google wants all links in these press releases to be nofollowed. He did say having a URL at the end should be okay but when he was grilled about it again, he said it is best to nofollow the links. John even said press releases should be treated as advertisements and thus links in those releases should be nofollowed.

I asked John why all of a sudden the change in policy for press releases and John said that it is because SEOs were using these more and more in a way to promote their site [artificially in the Google search results] and Google needed to clarify their stance on them.

Google did remove a few to make room for the new ones. Now gone are “linking to web spammers or unrelated sites with the intent to manipulate PageRank” and “links that are inserted into articles with little coherence”.

I guess it’s game on with those. Just kidding.

What do you think of Google’s updated language for links schemes? Do any of the changes concern you? Let us know in the comments.

Google Discusses Its New Official Link Rules


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  • http://www.seektop10.com Waqas

    These are not entirely new rules. Thanks for informing us on this.

  • http://www.bodhost.com/ bodHOST

    I think people should stop building marketing strategies around search engines and forget their existence.

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  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/full-service-seo Nick Stamoulis of Brick Marketing

    I applaud Google for taking on the spammers. Links in press releases and guest posts are definitely being abused—I just wish they wouldn’t make these changes on a Friday afternoon! It means site owners have to be even more aware of what they are doing and be very careful with every link they create.

    • Tom

      A link spam comment to an article about the problems with link spam. Fantastic!

  • http://www.austintenantadvisors.com/ Nathan K Smith

    So what about links on the Yahoo business directory that companies have to pay $300 per year for?

    • http://www.synergytechservices.com/ Mayur

      Nice point raised you Nathan.
      Why Google supporting paid link schemes?

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  • http://onesie-shop.com The Onesie Site Guy

    How can a press release qualify as a link scheme ? I agree with bodhost .also Im unclear as to what you mean by they removed some to make room for the new ones ?

  • http://jensholvoet.com Jens Holvoet

    Do exactly the opposite of what Google is saying and you should be fine, as long as you don’t post real spam like generic blog comments without value.

  • John Brockway

    Google Delivers Death Blow to PRWeb.com

    Can someone please tell me what value press releases have now, if you can only nofollow your links in the release? Why bother writing a press release if the links within it won’t be indexed?

    • bob

      forget about google, spam like before. we still have bing. google promotes only big brands, and now not have organic serp.

  • bill

    well that is pretty much everything

    Google is so messed up now

    Its a manual search engine driving traffic to big business.
    They are so not the real real organic deal

    • Anne

      I agree… if my life wasn’t about making money on the ‘net I would give up now.

  • http://www.smarterchanges.com Gerri Jensen

    Google has gone too far in it’s policies about guest posts, advertorials and paid link advertising. Join with me and file a complaint with the FTC about Google violating fair business practices. After-all the effect of all these rules is that you need to advertise using adwords rather than other methods, therefore they are controlling ad rates ( price fixing) and using unfair practices. Here’s the link to file a complain it’s easy just tell them how Google’s policies are harming your business. https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

    PS I chose the FTC, Federal Trade Commission rather than the FCC, Federal Communications Commission because it is a business practices issue not an Internet issue.

  • Ralphie

    The Big “G” has no idea what the heck it is doing anymore. Comments can be good can be bad, Guest Posts can be Good Can be Bad.

    last month Press Releases had NO SEO value, this month Press release links should be no-followed! (which begs the question, if they had no seo value ANYWAY why the need to no follow them?)

    The only “legal” way to promote your business is to do nothing and pray that for some ungodly reason your site goes viral.

    According to THEM anyway.. the recent “car insurance and payday loans” fiasco’s proves that the big G can still be gamed and they dont like it.therefore the need to upset and confuse webmasters every other month.

    • wmaster

      google just is not search engine. It kind of dictatorship government.

  • http://www.raepevy.com Sherry

    What I don’t understand is why I find page after page after page of results in Google for products that go to spam websites linked to Amazon. In the automotive tool industry we find that 1) Amazon is carrying everything we sell, including the most obscure items, 2) the pricing is such that we KNOW for sure it is the manufacturers selling directly to the public and 3) Amazon has hundreds of websites relating to every aspect of the tool industry and linking to product pages that look like an independent website, but actually link to the specific product in Amazon. How come those links are okay with Google?

  • John

    Google is clown shoes at this point…

  • http://www.sbwebcenter.com Steve B

    So, in other words, Google wants everyone to nofollow every link. No link or website is safe.

    Here’s the start of DMOZ part 2 where editors will discriminately penalize and ban sites that compete against them.

    These moves are not good for Google. I have a feeling Bing will gain and capitalize on Google’s mistakes. Rightfully so.

    • wmaster

      i will not follow any google guidelines. because everything what tell matt cutts, it lie. Also it not enough traffic from google now to listen their rules.

  • Matt

    Google is now officially, the first schizophrenic search engine company.

  • http://webmastertips.us Tim

    Personally, I think Google is all about numero uno. They want every person and every business in the world to pay them first if they ever hope to make any money on the internet, as if they invented the internet. Everybody knows Al Gore should get all the profits from the internet.

  • Conan

    Google is just trying to create a level playing field. Otherwise those with money to spare will just buy links or obtain backlinks from outsourcers, whilst those who are trying to build a great website will essentially languish on the bottom of page 15 (Example). The next step for Google to take is to penalize Big Corporate or medium sized businesses who have “Partner” sites with high PR and different URLs to exchange links which help them to rank highly unnaturally.

    Examples of this would be
    1. amazon.de, amazon.cn, amazon.fr, amazon.com, etc
    2. Tripadvisor.com, tripadvisor.de, tripadvisor.fr, etc

    Just my 2 cents. Apologize if I offended anyone.

  • http://www.goodcall.biz Simon Hetherington

    I’m sure that I’m not the first person that has considered this, but if I wanted to ensure that contributors to my search engine were building links in an organic way but had no real idea about how to do it, I would create a trusted personality within the organisation to tell the masses that my search engine had found a way to ensure that all non organic linking could be identified and penalised.

    Then I would randomly change the ranking criteria on the assumption that everyone is probably doing something that is against the rules and most people would assume that a drop in rankings was as a direct result of doing something they shouldn’t be. BMW and Interflora included.

    Is Google actually de-cluttering the web or are we doing it all by ourselves.

    Either way you have to hand it to them.

  • John D

    – too many “hand face” and “scratch” gestures in the video, starts with first question by the roundtable guy obviously not square.

    – lies, lies and more lies.

    – why don’t google simply admit Larry and Sergy were right
    http://infolab.stanford.edu/~backrub/google.html

    Exactly quoting them “The goals of the advertising business model do not always correspond to providing quality search to users”

  • http://www.jayseducation.com Tom Jay

    Thinking Google is attempting to do the right thing but is messing it up by too many confusing and ever changing criteria. Result – by targeting the big player they disadvantaging the masses and the little struggler on a shoe string budget.

  • http://www.realitist.com Robert

    I think google is over extended and is trying to make room for new ventures such as Google India without building additional capacity like the NSA in the desert. Every time google closes a door thousands find a new window to open, just makes everything worse then it was before. We used to get decent spam, people actually trying to write something for the eyes on the page. Now the spam is totally valueless rubbish spun into gibberish to avoid duplicate content.

  • pp

    It is my website, i pay the hosting, design, etc, i will put on my site what i want and not what google tells me too. The sooner people stop worrying what google says the better BING IT!!!

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    They like it the easy way, to not think themselves, so the payed content Google is giving them on the as “sponsored” hmm.

    “Natural search results” this is simply Bu..Sh.. because ist all about the money.

    That Lazyness of people should be the problem to handle, we think only then, if they are realy interested in more searche results /info’s then such Companys like Google wanted to find.
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    More should promote duckduckgo.c.m and such engines, maybe then they see how dumb it is to have only the “Payed” targetting searchresults that google is serving them. And if Google therefor become a less Monopolist then they mayby ..

  • Peter

    I say f&&k Google! Since when is google god? They can keep their rules, laws and ïllegal stuff webmasters do” lists and guidelines! A website owner is answerable only to his userbase, and/or investors…period.

    • Dennis

      I think it’s pretty obvious: who else but Google is god in their own search engine. If you don’t like it you might try optimizing your website for Bing or Alltheweb and hope people still find you.

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  • http://www.lightserver.at SWEDY

    To be honest: a regular website owner doesn’t understand a single word of what Matt is telling here!
    Why?
    Google is not in the position to make global markting rules, that’s not their job.
    Take a look at some big job portals – a lot of them pass the pagerank and it’s even markting.

    bR

  • http://www.i-webtechsolutions.co.uk/ I-WebTech Solutions

    On one side they are saying:

    Now included as things that qualify as link schemes are:

    Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links
    Advertorials or native advertising where payment is received for articles that include links that pass PageRank
    Links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites.

    but on the other hand they are saying that Google didn’t not follow the links on articles or press releases.

    Google hate paid links

    Google wants nofollow tag should be used by articles or press releases sites owner.

    Now can any one tell me which type of links should we build for our websites.

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    Google always trying to do something new and innovative for their users but sometimes it’s in favor and sometimes it’s not but we will always hope it will best and useful for everyone :) :-)
    Thanks!

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  • http://plasticsurgeonfrance.co.uk/tummy-tuck/ Geoff Lord

    Google are always trying to shoot themselves in the foot !! every time they update the search criterea they upset someone !! just hope it isnt me again !!

  • http://www.seotechno.net Amartya Bhowmik

    If Google does not like directory submission,article submissions,Bookmarking submission,press release submission,guest post,link building so what will be done by a seo optimizer? how the site will be rank.I fellow all the non-seo site over all rank in top 10.It’s means Google want to atop optimization.

    • wmaster

      google just have a dream. And believe in fairy tales of matt cutts.

  • http://www.consult3.co.uk Adam Livermore

    This latest update is truly confusing. I agree with examples they gave i.e. the wedding rings anchor text, we all see it and it looks awful. But a well written engaging post that naturally references further reading without the need for heavy anchor text (just like this article I read now) surely cant be top of googles hit list of spammers. They have done a good job of scaring seo’s to death with any type of follow link moving forward even from a reputable source, or maybe its just mind games !

  • http://www.fizzwebdesign.co.uk fizz web design

    For goodness sake, every site owner knows good link building is the holy grail for page ranking & for years guest blogging has been a key seo recommendation.
    Now we’re told to nofollow those links? Or are we really? It’s all slightly ambiguous as usual, but the key here seems to be google overstepping the mark in closing down even more back linking options. So whatddoes google suggest? Nothing. They just close doors.

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    WOW maybe I need to contact all links exchange webmasters to change their anchor text to complicated anchor text link.

    Nice Share ! Thanks !

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  • http://meandmymac.net Arnan

    Nothing to see here, just Google once again forcing stuff down our throats to further their own agenda while not caring for anyone else.

    Yes I understand why this would make sort of sense to improve search results and crazy link schemes but Google isn’t interested in that I think. They just want to know your every move and if they make the rules on what you can see they can invade your privacy even further. Using the “do what we say or your pagerank is ruined” logic to force us to comply. All the while making it sound as good improvements.

  • wmaster

    google can have many rules. but all this rules not will work in real world. Also google traffic decreased, much harder to get it. Also quality of traffic going down and down (lot of adwords blocks in serp).

    So google now NOT in the position to “set the rules” or “new link rules” or “other bullshit”. If they want to set new rules, let rank only wikipedia and youtube. And in few monthes their marketing share will 1% of internet users.

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  • glover

    we need to spam google, we not want matt cutts and this mueller guy lost workjob and bankrupt. Just create youtube video and blast 1 million links using fiverr. and you will see what everything what that guys tell you now is lie.
    Also negative seo, just check fiverr – you will impressed how many offers at that place. spam to site, changing anchors in indexed article, all this things will tank your site. That important information google guys will never tell you.

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