Google warns against misusing links in large scale article campaigns

Posted by Rebecca Appleton on 31 May, 2017
View comments Link Building
Google has reminded webmasters and publishers that anyone guilty of distributing articles for the purposes of large scale link building could face a penalty.

Google link penalty reminder

The new reminder has been prompted by an increase in large scale spammy links, found within posts labelled ‘contributor posts, guest posts, partner posts, or syndicated posts’. Google says these types of posts violate its link guidelines because the primary purpose is to build large scale links back to the author website.

While it does not have a problem with guest posts in principle, the search engine says those contributor, syndicated or partner posts should inform or educate the reader or raise awareness for a cause or issue.

What indicates your content isn’t making the grade?

The Google Webspam team said in its post, it considers articles to be misusing links when the content:

  • Is full of keyword-rich links back to the author’s website
  • Is published across a large number of sites or, a lot of content is published across just a few sites
  • Is written by an author that has no detailed knowledge of the subject, meaning the article itself doesn’t provide any value to the reader
  • Uses the same or similar content as lots of other articles, or, content is duplicated on the author’s own site without using rel=”canonical” and rel=”nofollow”

If Google finds your large scale article campaigns are a ploy to build spammy links, it says that it may revise its opinion of the quality of your site, resulting in a drop in rankings.

What are the consequences for publishers?

Google’s reminder should prompt publishers to look again at how they source and publish articles from guest posters. If you publish syndicated, sponsored, partner or guest posts on your site, you don’t need to suspend this practice, but it’s highly recommended that you implement the following safeguards:

  • Do you know the author?
  • Is the content you are being presented with educational, informative and useful or, does the writer have little knowledge of the subject?
  • If links contained within the article have a questionable intent, has the author used a rel=”nofollow” tag?
  • Does the content fit with the overall message, tone and quality of your site?
  • Do you already have a lot of posts from this same author?
  • Are there too many links in the content?
  • Has the same piece of content been published on the author’s site without using using rel=”canonical” and rel=”nofollow”?

How can authors move forward with syndicated campaigns without falling foul of the guidelines above?

As Google says, publishers prefer not to receive repetitive and insistent, post my content requests. It advises webmasters who are inundated with these persistent requests to file a spam report.

While there is no rule against guest posting, it’s important to develop a more natural and organic method and not simply send dozens of requests to the same site over and again with the sole aim of publishing poor quality, irrelevant content to build links back to your own domain.

Creating good quality content to post on your own site, which others will voluntarily link back to, should be the ultimate end goal.

For more details, see Google's blog post here.

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