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Google Cracks Down on Overuse of Guest Posting, Anchor Text

In an effort to reduce the positive effects of spam-like link building, Google has made a noteworthy update to their link schemes guidelines. The central goal of this update was to encourage marketers to create rich, genuine content that readers will want to share, while penalizing those who choose to put out large amounts of cheap, dull content loaded with heavily optimized anchor text.

These changes were discussed with Google Switzerland's John Mueller in the following video:

Here is the complete list of additions, from Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Land:

  • 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

Schwartz notes that Google also removed two guidelines after inserting those additions:

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

Presumably, the two removals will still continue to be enforced due to the new restrictions on guest posting and anchor text, which target the same type of activity. Ensuring the relevance of anchor text to the article's topic helps guest posters to build a thorough blog post that demonstrates their knowledge on a given topic. That knowledge should be evidence of the work the poster does on their own site, validating the followed links used in the post. Guest blogging is a great way to build your site's reputation throughout the web, but sites should not be putting out entire posts laden with anchor text with the goal of improving their search positions. Google's position remains that if a link is not being used as an authentic resource related to the post, it should be tagged with a nofollow.

The penalties for advertorials was also anticipated by many, for the same reason as the limitations on guest blogging. By discouraging these activities, Google also encourages more organic buzz about a website as a means for that site to increase its search ranking positions.

The specific wording of that third addition on anchor text was troubling to some professionals in the video with Mueller. Rob Maas of MarketBizz commented on the "optimized anchor text" not being something that is discouraged, but excessive amounts of irrelevant anchor text should rightly be penalized unless it is nofollowed. 

In light of these additions, what else could Google do to assist websites in the process of building a robust link profile? Share your thoughts over on the Fission SEO Facebook page.