Google Just released their new update on link spam and you are now required to mark your links as “sponsored” and “no follow”.
This update was released on July 26th and will take a couple of weeks to fully implement. So don’t worry you have time to get on board!
In this article we will be showing you how to mark your links so you don’t get penalized by the new update.
We will show you how to mark your links going forward with all your future affiliate links and how you can fix all your old links.
But first let’s talk about what qualifies as link spam.
What Is “Link Spam”?
Link spam is the process of creating links to increase the number of external links (more commonly known as backlinks) made to a site without value.
Link Farms: “Link farms are tightly-knit networks of websites that link to each other for the sole purpose of exploiting the search engine ranking algorithms.” Wikipedia
Hidden Links: Links that are hidden on a website for the purpose of gaining rank. Usually done by making the link the same color as the blog.
Comment Spam: Spammers make comments on other people’s websites (they often don’t make sense) and post their link in the comment.
Why Is The “Link Spam” Algorithm Update Important?
The reason for the update is because Google wants to take down the sites that participate in “link spam”. The update will make sure that these sites won’t get indexed inside the search engines. This is actually a good thing because sites that don’t use spammy links will rise higher in rankings while bad sites will fail to rank at all.
It is also a way for google to ensure a balance of links on your site.
They want to be able to chart user experience so that they can rank a post accordingly.
Part of this update targets affiliate links specifically.
This does not mean if you are doing affiliate links you are getting punished. You just need to qualify (label) your links by adding a link attribute.
A link attribute is if you want the link to do or say something then you add code to your individual links on your website. For example, you want to the link to Open in new tab. That is a link attribute and there is a certain code you would add to the link.
Note: Don’t worry though! We will be showing you how to change your links without using code but we wanted to go over everything so that you would understand what is happening from top to bottom.
Overview Of The Link Attributes (That We Will Be Working With In This Post)
So basically, here is the run down.
Internal Links: Do Nothing. Leave them alone.
An internal link is where you link from one of your posts to another one of your posts within the same domain.
External Links: Mark as “No Follow”
An external link is when you link out to another site. For example, you link out to Wikipedia. This is not an affiliate link so it gets the “no follow” treatment.
Affiliate Links: Mark as “Sponsored”.
What Qualifies As A “sponsored” Link?
According to Google a sponsored link is a link(s) “that involve payment, sponsorship, or are otherwise commercial in nature.”
What is rel=”sponsored”?
It is a link attribute in code. It’s a way to tell google your relationship with the linked page. In this case you are telling google the link is “sponsored”.
How To Set Up rel=”sponsored” In WordPress.
This can be done in either classic editor or block editor, but keep in mind you should be using block editor by now. (That is a rant for another day)
You can add rel=”sponsored” while you are adding your affiliate links so start doing this going forward with your business.
How do add rel=”sponsored” to existing affiliate links
We will be using an excerpt from an article on this website as an example.
The following is a screen shot from the article “How Do I Do Free Keyword Research?”.
We are using this article because of its multiple links.
(FYI the article title is an internal link so I did not have to do anything special to it.)
First you need to identify your links
Remember Leave internal links alone. They do not need to be labeled.
External Links Require a “no follow” attribute
Affiliate Links require “sponsored” attribute.
Login in to your WordPress Back Office to edit your post.
Example 1: Classic Editor
For the first example, we will be using the classic editor. Scroll Down to Example 2 if you are using Block Editor.
Scroll down to your link and click on it.
Then click on the editing Icon.
A pop-up menu will appear and you check next to “sponsored” or “no follow”. In this case it is an affiiate link so we choose “sponsored”. We have also chosen to “open link in a new tab”. Then click “Update”.
Example 2: Block Editor
Highlight the link in block editor and a menu will appear. You simply choose from the options.
We chose to “open the link in a new tab” and the “sponsored” options. Then “update” your post.
Admit it. That was way easier than you thought!
How To Change All Your Old Links At Once
Ok so now you know how to change your links in future. What about all your other links?
Well you can manually go through each page and post OR you can download a free plugin called WP External Links.
I am not going to walk you thorugh installing and actvating as I am assuming you know how to do this already.
Once you have the plugin installed, find “External Links” in your dashboard and click on it.
Click the “External Links” Tab.
Check “Sponsored”. Then Scroll down and click “Save”
And there you have it all prior links are now marked as “Sponsored”.
Please note that this only works on old links and will not change the links going forward. Also note that you must keep this plugin in order for it to keep working. If you delete it all information will also be erased.
Thank you for taking the time to read this guide about Google’s Link Spam Update. Hopefully you now see that although this process requires work on your part it is easier than expected.
Questions? Comments? Suggestion? Leave a reply below.