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Google Updates Link Scheme Webmaster Guidelines

What does this mean for your “link building” strategy?

Late on Friday July 26th, Google made an unannounced update to it’s webmaster tools link schemes guidelines. In the land of SEO, link building has always been regarded as the go-to way for increasing page rank, so it’s easy to see why this change is receiving so much attention throughout our industry.

As reported by Search Engine Journal in their post “Google Warns Against Large-Scale Guest Posting, Advertorials & “Optimized Anchor Text” In Press Releases” and verified through this capture of the guidelines from June 28th, Google added the following new examples of link schemes that can have a negative impact on your site’s ranking:

  • 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.

Google also removed some of their original guidelines including:

  • Linking to web spammers or unrelated sites with the intent to manipulate PageRank.
  • Links that are inserted into articles with little coherence.

Additional changes we noticed are:

  • Google added a definition of unnatural links as “creating links that weren’t editorially placed or vouched for by the site’s owner on a page.”
  • They removed the opening paragraph stating “Your site’s ranking in Google search results is partly based on analysis of those sites that link to you. The quantity, quality, and relevance of links influences your ranking.”
  • Removed the statement from the closing paragraph “It is not only the number of links you have pointing to your site that matters, but also the quality and relevance of those links.”

While none of this is shocking, these updates have caused quite a stir in the SEO community. What I’ve found most interesting is the removal of all statements making reference to the quantity of links, directly affecting your page rank. For anyone still in the SEO mindset that the more links you have, regardless of the quality, the better – this should be an eye opener.

As we have said before, it’s no longer about the dreaded term “link building” as so much as relationship building, contributed to unique content presented on your site. With great content, quality links will come naturally without the need to use methods outlined in this document.

So, what you think?  Has this update made you re-evaluate your current SEO strategy?

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