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Google Link Building Updates to Identify Spammy Links with SpamBrain and Target Link Selling Sites

Google keeps changing the ranking factors, and its search algorithm consistently presents new challenges to SEO experts. There is nothing called update-resistant SEO, even if you follow the best practices. And with the Google SEO link building update that started rolling out mainly in 2020 to counter the practice of buying and selling links, there have been major advancements. There’s a significant advantage to genuine link building.

Google link building

If you build links organically, Google will give you a clear edge when the new Google update fully rolls out. Building links organically helps you a great deal by saving you from the hassle of making big upgrades to your entire SEO ranking strategy when Google brings in new updates almost every year. In a highly competitive environment, that’s of great importance.

The moment Google announces a new change to its search algorithm, just with a single Google SEO link building update, the SEO professionals start upgrading their strategy to ensure their websites remain on top.

What is the latest Google link building update 2022 called SpamBrain

Google announced that a new link building update would be rolled out in December 2022. It's out and in effect. It is a link spam upgrade that aims at spam detection through a more advanced algorithm. The full rollout will take some time, but its impact will be visible in 2023. Google has updated its algorithms to detect spammy links that are most likely sold by website owners who aim only to make money by selling links.

The Google link building algorithm, called SpamBrain, will be AI-based and will work to identify the inorganic link placements and websites that sponsor it in return for money. This means buying links and purchasing links will be detected by Google at a far better speed. Webmasters, SEO experts and website owners who deploy inorganic, paid, and black hat tactics to build links and promote their websites will certainly be hit hard with this new Google algorithm update.

Where it all started - What was the Google SEO link building update 2020?

One of the important ranking factors, link building, has baffled many SEO professionals for many years. With the changes in 2020 related to marking nofollow, dofollow, sponsored, and user-generated content (UGC), things got tougher for link sellers and buyers. The results in rankings were visible throughout 2021 and 2022. And it will be far more visible in the next couple of years.

Content marketers are constantly working to break the Google code and understand the ranking factors more deeply. Most of you know the importance of a dofollow link and how to create high-quality backlinks using it, but the new algorithms have already set things abuzz.

Now, it’s not only about dofollow links; the stress is even higher now on how you earn the DF links. The market is full of freelancers and SEO agencies who guarantee you a post in return for some compensation or trading links. This means the internet is further trashed with many low-quality dofollow links used in low-level content. And if you think that a link is still a link and Google is concerned just about that, you are highly mistaken.

Google algorithm is smart, and it is capable of detecting the quality of your DF link on the following parameters:

  1. The quality of content around it

  2. It’s sponsored, or it’s meaningful and genuinely earned

  3. The relevance of the site which is linking out to your site based on the category

  4. The relevance of the anchor text of the hyperlink in the content that has been posted

  5. The contributor account – whether you are a staff writer or a guest contributor

To make things better in the SEO ecosystem and to ensure things are not manipulated by using leveraging tactics, Google is now pulling strings even further.

Penguin 4.0 update – Time to upgrade your link building techniques

Since the Penguin 4.0 update in 2016, Google has been ignoring the bad links. While the algorithms might not take visible action by penalizing your site for using bad links, ignorance means a lack of importance.

It clearly implies that others are gaining an edge while you are standing in the same old position. And to keep things fairly competitive, Google does not notify you about this. That’s pretty much a penalty in an indirect way, as there’s real effort involved in developing the content and generating the dofollow link.

With new updates, Google expects webmasters to attribute the link in a specific category, through URL or somewhere in the content on whether the link is user generated, dofollow or nofollow. This will make the weight of the link more objective. For example, Google might consider giving 1/4th weight to a user-generated post in comparison to a naturally earned link.

  1. rel=” sponsored”- Mark the link as ‘sponsored’ to let the web crawlers identify its nature. It could be a sponsored post, an advertorial post or any other form of compensation that you have agreed upon.

  2. rel=”UGC” – The user-generated content will cover the forum posts, comments, and discussions on your website. As the webmaster, you need to mark it as ‘’UGC’’.

  3. rel=”nofollow” – Nofollow has been the favorite for many, but now Google plans to curb it to some extent. Any link you are not endorsing should clearly be marked as ‘nofollow.’

Google will be treating all these types as the ‘hints’ for upgrading its search algorithm to improve the ranking factors. Why Google calls it ‘hints’ is because its algorithm has its own share of flaws, and they have no clear measure of it to quantify it and come up with a definitive ranking solution.

The real SEO ninjas often say there is no way to perfect it. Rightly so. SEO workers keep coming up with new tricks and formulas to jump the bar that Google keeps raising. As per Google, they want to keep following the hints from all types of content instead of ignoring them. The combination of these hints gives its bots a fair idea of how natural or unnatural the link is.

It analyzes several factors, such as what the anchor text that is hyperlinked points at and the relevance of the content around that link. I have crafted another detailed post on how to create the perfect content around the anchor text you want to link with. Click here to read it.

Quality backlinks is the key to win Google search algorithms

How will this benefit the site owners? As per the Google SEO Link building update, it might be that if Google sees that you are marking your content as per these categories, your ranking will get a boost. How much weight it might carry is still a matter of speculation.

With these new changes in full effect, you won’t have to work on the existing nofollow on your site. You can attribute a link under two categories at the same time. For example, the post for a link can be user-generated, and at the same time, it can be nofollow if you do not vouch for it.

If the link is an advertisement or sponsored, you can attribute it as nofollow or sponsored, but Google states it prefers the sponsored attribution over nofollow. Without enforcing its updates on the webmasters, Google leaves it entirely to the webmasters to follow the rules. Same time, it works on the link scheme action to penalize any manipulation to the PageRank.

It includes both the incoming links to your site and the outgoing links from your site. So, gear up for the updates, and if you already follow the best practices, you are set to have an advantage over the ones who don’t.

Understanding how Google Hint Model works

Not many link building experts are a fan of the ‘hint model’ that Google uses, but somewhere, even they know that there’s no other better way to upgrade the search algorithm. It’s basically how the users and publishers together act in the search environment, and its derivatives become part of the algorithm. It leads to an evolution process that the Google search algorithm is based on.

This might work as a big deterrent to the sites that sell links, terming them as guest posts or sponsored posts. As mentioned earlier, the market is full of sites that accept money in return for a link. Link building (selling and buying) is a big market, and you see thousands of freelancers on sites like UpWork and Fiverr selling links and hundreds of clients lined up to buy those.

Then there are SEO agencies that promise link packages at a certain price. They popularly market it as get backlinks packages or free backlinks techniques. There are many sites that do not offer any dofollow link, either sponsored or a genuine free contribution. Forbes, CNN,, and SocialMediaToday are some of the sites that accept posts only after carefully analyzing the quality of the post and the relevance of the link. Other than this, bloggers are expected to research before and adopt the best strategies for quality backlinks.

For now, according to the latest Google SEO link building update, both Google and the SEO experts are hoping that the PageRank factors get even better with the ‘hint model’ that the new update is based on. SpamBrain might help clean up the system developed by the manipulators until they come up with something new.

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