The December 2022 Link Spam Upgrade will mark a huge change for link building and SEO strategies as we currently understand them. If SEOs want their websites to rank higher in search engine results pages, they will need to embrace new strategies as many tactics that have previously worked are likely to become ineffective or even destructive.

The Clearwater team explains everything you need to know about the upgrade in this article and offers advice on current SEO link-building tactics you may employ both before and after the update.

What is the SpamBrain Link Spam Update

Google’s link spam detection algorithm is designed to identify and penalize websites that engage in manipulative link building practices in order to artificially boost their search engine rankings. The algorithm uses a variety of signals and techniques to detect link spam.

Google announced an algorithm tweak in December 2022 to address “link spam.” The algorithm is meant to spot and penalise websites that have been buying links, fabricating fraudulent backlinks, or taking part in link farms in order to manipulate search engine rankings.

Like any company, Google is dedicated to providing a positive customer experience to encourage increased usage and retention. In order to make their search engine results as accurate and pertinent as possible, this change was made. It’s crucial to note that while most website owners who follow the rules won’t be impacted by this update, those who employ illegal methods to boost their ranks risk having their websites fall substantially in the SERPs.

When the algorithm detects link spam, it may penalize the website by reducing its visibility in search results or even removing it from the search index altogether. To avoid penalties, webmasters should focus on building high-quality backlinks from authoritative sources through natural, organic means such as creating great content and engaging with their audience.

What Makes Quality Backlinks?

A natural link from a reputable, high-quality website that is pertinent to your content is considered a quality backlink. Because they can tell search engines that your website is also high-quality and reputable, excellent backlinks are crucial for boosting your search engine rankings. The following elements help evaluate a quality backlink.


A quality backlink should come from a website that is relevant to your content. If you run a pet food website, for example, a backlink from a website about pet care would be more relevant than a backlink from a website about car parts.


A quality backlink should come from a website that is considered authoritative in your industry. This can be determined by metrics such as Domain Authority, Page Authority, or Trust Flow.

Editorial Discretion

A quality backlink should be included by the linking website’s editorial team based on the merit of your content, rather than being paid for or included in an exchange for other links.

Anchor Text

The anchor text of the backlink should be relevant to the content on your website and include keywords that help to contextualize the link.

Natural Acquisition

A quality backlink should be acquired naturally as a result of creating high-quality content and engaging with your audience. Avoiding manipulative link building tactics can help to ensure that your backlinks are considered high-quality by search engines.

Building a solid, reputable web presence requires a lot of high quality natural backlinks. You may maximise your chances of obtaining high-quality backlinks that can help to raise your search engine results by concentrating on producing excellent content and interacting with your audience.

Stay Away From Black Hat SEO

Even though Google has made their objectives regarding links clear to the SEO community, there are still those that develop dishonest strategies to ‘cheat’ their way to the top of SERPs. Link spamming has become widespread in recent years, and many dishonest actors tried to manipulate Google’s ranking algorithm by building a huge number of low-quality backlinks pointing at dubious websites they owned. For this reason, the algorithm upgrade was necessary.

These strategies, also referred to as “black hat SEO,” can seriously harm a website’s reputation if Google’s engines discover them.