While there have been no official announcements, it has been noticed that Google has updated their link schemes document within their webmaster guidelines page. Specifically, the page now says that large-scale advertorials, optimized anchor text in articles or press releases, and guest posting violate their guidelines. These are three of the most commonly used SEO tactics today, which makes this quite a significant change.
When looking at the page you’ll now see three main bullet points which were added to the page. This page is specifically concerning things which Google considers against their SEO guidelines. The three points are:
- 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.
In addition, they removed the following two bullet points:
- Linking to web spammers or unrelated sites with the intent to manipulate PageRank.
- Links that are inserted into articles with little coherence.
While at first glance this all seems much more significant than it actually is. It seems that Google is just attempting to clarify that large-scale article marketing, press release marketing or use of advertorials is discouraged, which it always has been. As always, the key is to focus on quality in these activities rather than just quantity. Guest blogging is great, for example, if it is on a page in a related niche. If, however, the guest blog is posted on dozens of sites which accept content from any source, it is discouraged because it is not providing any value to visitors of either site.
The fact that Google made these changes without any announcement or clarification is somewhat odd, but may just be part of their overall strategy to not explain their every move. This can also be seen in the fact that they have said that they will no longer confirm or deny any algorithm changes going forward.
What do you think about these changes? Will it have any impact on your SEO strategies?