Google has launched another update to their search algorithm, designed to better target sites engaged in webspam tactics such as keyword stuffing and unusual link patterns. The update is the first major algorithm change since Google announced they were targeting ‘unatural’ links earlier this month.
Here’s a quote from Google’s blog post on the update,
In the next few days, we’re launching an important algorithm change targeted at webspam. The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines. We’ve always targeted webspam in our rankings, and this algorithm represents another improvement in our efforts to reduce webspam and promote high quality content. While we can’t divulge specific signals because we don’t want to give people a way to game our search results and worsen the experience for users, our advice for webmasters is to focus on creating high quality sites that create a good user experience and employ white hat SEO methods instead of engaging in aggressive webspam tactics.
Google’s blog post provides some examples of well-known webspam techniques, but makes specific note of link schemes using spun content,
Here’s an example of a site with unusual linking patterns that is also affected by this change. Notice that if you try to read the text aloud you’ll discover that the outgoing links are completely unrelated to the actual content, and in fact the page text has been “spun” beyond recognition:
These black/grey hat SEO techniques are nothing new. Google has been busy targeting this type of webspam for over ten years. I’d consider this update as more of a refresh on their spam detection methods, designed to fix loopholes where this type of spam still worked.
But will the update lead to better search results?
Ever since Google announced the update, users across the web have been reporting less than impressive search results. It’s usual to see complaints from webmasters after almost every update, but this time search engine land has put together some comprehensive examples of poor results.
Just have a look at Google’s latest results for the term “Viagra” – one of the biggest spam targets,
Google fails to list the official Viagra site and links to four sites that have been hacked. But it’s not the only example of search results gone wrong; search engine land lists a number of other queries where the results from Bing trump Google.
According to Google, the changes have gone live for all languages and will impact around 3% of queries in English (panda was 12%).
If your website has been impacted, or you’ve noticed some questionable search results pages, leave a comment below.