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Spammy Links Can Harm Your Site's Pagerank; Google Reminds Site Owners
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Many site owners engage in link building practices to help rank their sites stronger organically while some make money online by selling links that pass pagerank to other sites. Some content marketers even get paid to 'build links'. Well, it seems people have gotten too loose with these practices thereby forcing Google to publish a reminder that spammy links violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Google’s post reminds those who publish articles referred to as guest posts, sponsored content, press releases etc, that if done aggressively, with intention to build links that can manipulate pagerank, etc they could expose their sites to being penalized in Google.
The penalty of course, will affect the ranking of the site that published the content that contains the spammy links and also the sites that are linked to. There is nothing really new about the reminder though because Google published same warning in 2014. However, this reminder is more specific in terms of large-scale article campaigns.

According to Google, below are factors that, when taken to an extreme, can indicate when an article is in violation Google's guidelines on link schemes :
Stuffing keyword-rich links to your site in your articles
Having the articles published across many different sites; alternatively, having a large number of articles on a few large, different sites
Using or hiring article writers that aren’t knowledgeable about the topics they’re writing on
Using the same or similar content across these articles; alternatively, duplicating the full content of articles found on your own site (in which case use of rel=”canonical”, in addition to rel=”nofollow”, is advised)

How To Stay Safe
Whether you are distributing content or you are the one publishing those content on your blog, you might escape manual actions or penalties by simply placing rel="nofollow" on those links.

Kindly note that Google is not against article distribution in the cases when they inform users, educate another site’s audience or used to increase brand awareness. But if such distribution is done primarily to pass pagerank, then there’s a problem.
If you've got spammy links on your site, you can disavow them.

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