Google’s long anticipated over-optimization penalty is now live. Except Google called it an algorithmic update that’s targeting web spam – a.k.a., keyword stuffing and link schemes, in the process causing some big search ranking upheavals.
Webspam Algorithm Update
Google’s Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts, head of the web spam team, yesterday announced that Google had pushed out the new algorithm. Cutts said this “improvement” better identifies websites using “aggressive web spam tactics” (that have been against Google’s quality guidelines for years) for the purposes of gaming their way to top spots in Google’s rankings.
Cutts specifically noted that websites likely to lose rankings are those that practice keyword stuffing and sites that have “unusual linking patterns,” such as links from spun content with anchor text that is completely unrelated to the actual on-page content.
The web spam algorithm update will affect about 3.1 percent of English Google queries, but noted it would have a bigger impact in heavily-spammed languages, such as Polish.
Additionally, Cutts emphasized the importance of “white hat” SEO in his post, as well as the importance of creating great websites filled with high-quality, compelling content that provide a good user experience. Google’s guidance on high-quality content consists of these 23 questions you should ask yourself when evaluating website content.
SEO by the Sea has a good rundown of Google’s patents related to combating web spam.
Early Assessment of Damages
There are lots of theories floating around at the moment about what types of sites took the biggest hits, but it seems a bit premature to make conclusions with so many conflicting reports. It seems a few “innocents” may have be caught up in this (though, honestly, it’s easy to blame Google for not ranking your site), and some pages that shouldn’t be ranking are now, according to various reports in forums since last night.
Some are arguing that Google’s results are worse now. If that sounds familiar, many people were saying the same thing after Panda launched last year. Pretty sure those who saw their search rankings increase aren’t complaining.