Google's new guidance says the 'no-follow' tag will keep brands out of algorithmic trouble unless they're being extremely spammy.

In the latest Google Webmaster Help Channel video, Matt Cutts makes it clear that the search engine draws a hard line when it comes to spamming. Google will take manual action against sites creating deceptive or untrustworthy web content on a massive scale, even if they are technically following the search engine’s SEO best practices. Cutts specifically references the practice of “no-following” links, explaining that this is a safe way to avoid algorithmic penalties, unless it’s abused.

For example, a domain can be punished for continually posting irrelevant content on forums across the web, even the “no-follow” tag is applied to links.

“If we see enough mass scale action that we consider deceptive or manipulative, we do reserve the right to take action … we carve out a little bit of an exception if we see truly huge scale abuse,” Cutts explains.

This new guidance comes on the heels of previous advice from the search engine that advised marketers to “no-follow” links in press releases and embedded codes. It’s wise for companies to take note of these updates, as they could indicate that Google’s crawlers will take a more scrutinizing look at optimized anchor text moving forward and penalize sites for linking to irrelevant web content.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.