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Google Launches Search Algorithm Update to Target Webspam

Google has announced that they are releasing the Webspam Algorithm Update. It is designed to catch website owners who spam search results or purposely do things to rank better. The update already went live yesterday, and it is believed to affect 3% of search queries. As posted on their Google Webmaster Central blog:

“In the next few days, we’re launching an important algorithm update targeted at webspam. The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s quality guidelines. This algorithm represents another step in our efforts to reduce webspam and promote high quality content”

Google defines webspam as pages that are trying to gain better rankings through keyword stuffing, link schemes, cloaking, “sneaky” directories, “doorway” pages and purposeful duplicate content.

Why Fight Webspam Now?

The webspam technique is not something new. Some of them are more than ten years old, even before Google started operating as a search engine.

Although it appears that the search engine giant is only fighting this “black hat” search engine optimization method now, it’s definitely not the case. They’ve sent warnings and fought against such techniques for a very long time, and they are actually rolling out better ways to detect search engine abuses.

Targeting Webspam and Not SEO

For those who are wondering if this is the “over optimization” that Google is talking about, the answer is no. In a statement shared with Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan, Head of Google’s Webspam Team Matt Cutts clarified that the latest search algorithm update is targeted for malicious page ranking practices and not on SEO.

“I think ‘over-optimization’ wasn’t the best description, because it blurred the distinction between white hat SEO and webspam. The change is targeted at webspam, not SEO, and we tried to make that fact more clear in the blog post.”

Last Wednesday’s post indeed differentiated “white hat SEO” and “black hat webspam.” Aside from this, they are encouraging website owners to continue with their best SEO practices:

“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….

“Sites affected by this change might not be easily recognizable as spamming without deep analysis or expertise, but the common thread is that these sites are doing much more than white hat SEO; we believe they are engaging in webspam tactics to manipulate search engine rankings….

“We want people doing white hat search engine optimization (or even no search engine optimization at all) to be free to focus on creating amazing, compelling web sites.”

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One thought on “Google Launches Search Algorithm Update to Target Webspam

  1. This update is different than previous as far as the affects its having on webmasters. Site owners in the forums are really scrambling on how to figure what has actually changed in the algorithm. Some people are calling this the “9-5 update”, because alot of site owners are going to have to get a 9-5 job in the aftermath.