Link spam algorithm update – Should you be worried?

So, if you’re in the know in SEO and follow the latest updates, you’ll know that on the 26th July 2021, Google started rolling out its Link Spam Algorithm Update which is designed to ‘make the algorithm more effective at identifying and nullifying link spam’.

But what does that mean in real world non-SEO terms?

Essentially, Google is trying to improve the algorithm’s understanding of what a spammy link looks like as part of a site’s backlink profile, and either remove any associated value or reduce the ranking power of that site. It’s doing this because links still play a hugely important role in the algorithm’s understanding of which sites are more powerful than others.

How does it decide what links are classed as link spam?

As Google can’t manually assess every link of every site, it has to train the algorithm to look for patterns and types of links. This update is likely geared around updating the classification process by feeding it new examples and ways of identifying these links.

This new set of rules will likely bring in tighter classifications for what makes a link good or bad. Therefore, we need to consider if current or even past link building tactics could be considered bad as part of this change.

How could it impact you?

Well, if you’ve ever undertaken or had an agency undertake link building tactics in the past, then you could be at risk of impact. The areas that are most under threat are those that have engaged in links that come from ‘sponsored, guest and affiliate’ content. Now, that is a pretty broad spectrum and has been used as a valid link building tactic for a while now.

Why would these links be considered spam?

It’s not so much that they are a spammy link building tactic, it is more that people are using these tactics in a spammy way – let me explain.

If you’ve worked on a sponsored post (i.e paid a site/blogger/influencer) for someone to feature your product or service in a post, then you should have stipulated this both in the article and also in the source code with the correct HTML tag. There is very clear guidance on Google’s webmaster guidelines on what tags are needed for each post type.

If you’re links from these sources don’t include those clear and easily identifiable signals that you’ve paid to be featured on a particular site, then you are hugely at risk from this new update.

What can you do?

If you know you’ve engaged in this tactic and not been crystal clear on if a link has been paid for or not, then you probably need to rectify this in some way. However, it could be that it is already too late and that Google has devalued these links or your site as a result of the update.

If you haven’t noticed a drop in performance but have engaged in these tactics, then a full review of all built links should be undertaken immediately. If you identify links that you suspect would be caught by this change, then you need to get them updated so they fall in line with the guidance from Google.

Do you need help?

We have tools that can quickly identify and organise backlinks into a suitable list for us to work through and categorise in light of this new update. There are also ways we can devalue these links with Google (through Google Search Console) or use a process to get these links updated with the correct wording and HTML tags.

Even if you are slightly unsure, we’d seriously recommend getting a link audit done to give you that piece of mind. That way you can understand what links have been built to your site and which ones you might need to be worried about. Got any questions? Drop us a line at

Written by:

James Mechan Senior Strategic Search Consultant


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