In their latest step to crack down on spam and nefarious ranking tactics, Google has updated its Link Schemes help document to warn SEOs about the types of activities that the search engine will now consider a violation of its Webmaster policies. The latest methods under scrutiny? Advertorials, native advertising, and heavily-optimized anchor text.
Advertorials, which were originally meant as a blend of editorial elements and advertisements in newspaper and magazine publishing, have evolved to become a type of unnatural link on the web. Advertorials are those “sponsored posts” you see on news and article-based websites; they are a point of contention for both advertisers and editors. While Google doesn’t object to sponsored posts or advertorials as a whole, it does see a real problem with SEOs using advertorials as ways to push links. The actual language in the Link Scheme help document is:
“Advertorials or native advertising where payment is received for articles that include links that pass PageRank”
Using links that were not editorially placed or vouched for by the link’s owner in an advertorial may result in a search engine penalty.
Heavily-optimized anchor text is the other element that was given a more thorough definition by Google. SEOs have long used keywords as anchor text for links; it makes sense stylistically and logically. While this is still allowed (and is good SEO practice), Google is really watching out for abuse of this practice. Here is the example they give in the help document:
“There are many wedding rings on the market. If you want to have a wedding, you will have to pick the best ring. You will also need to buy flowers and a wedding dress.”
As you can see, not only does this paragraph have way too many keywords hiding links, but the content itself is poor. This keyword stuffing/link building combo is sure to make your page take a hit in search engine rankings.
As Search Engine Watch points out, what is perhaps more interesting than the additions to the document is the content that has been taken out. Google used to include an introductory paragraph in the Link Schemes help document which explained how incoming links to your website influenced search rankings. This paragraph, which detailed exactly why it was important to have a large number of high quality, relevant links, has now been removed. Was this removal a deliberate statement on the increasing insignificance of link building in Google search engine rankings, or was it simply meant as a way to highlight the new additions to the document?
Google and other search engines are constantly adjusting their parameters and metrics for pages that wish to be ranked. It can be tough to keep up with them all – inSegment has the SEO experience to adapt to these changes, and the experience in using legitimate, white-hat tactics to ensure that pages don’t need to be overly concerned with changes.