It’s been coming for quite a while, but Google has finally introduced a fairly large algorithm update to target more spammers. You may be thinking that this sounds like an everyday event, after all Google has more than 500 algorithm updates each and every year, but the April 24, 2012 search quality algorithm update seems to be a bit one.
Google’s very own Matt Cutts said in an official release that the new updates only effect about 3.1% of search queries, but I personally have noticed quite a large difference, some good and some bad.
The Good From This Algorithm Update
I’ve noticed many sites that I know are doing unethical, black hat SEO disappear out of search results. This includes sites that have been:
- Using low quality content
- Keyword stuffing on their website and during their link building
- Using spun articles, or articles that are computer generated versions of the original to try and fool search engines
- Low quality, spam, or automated links
Perhaps the largest two examples I’ve seen of this are in two of my competitors. I don’t want to name them specifically, but they are both SEO companies who have been using some “gray” or “black” hat SEO techniques.
One of these SEO companies was using all 4 points I mentioned above, and not only was their website dramatically penalized (used to rank #1 for a highly competitive SEO realted term) but their website was completely deindexed by Google. It’s gone from the index, likely to remain gone unless they submit a reconsider request and really clean up their act but even with that who knows what will happen.
The other SEO company did a little better, but they weren’t doing all 4 of the things I mentioned, they were only doing two of them. They were ranked on page 1 for that same highly competitive SEO related term, and now their site is no where to be found for that keyword. Their site, however, has not been deindexed, but it did fall in rankings for many of their competitive keywords.
I expect to see four main things from this update:
- Many people will start doing quality SEO again
- Many people will start searching for another way to spam search engines
- Many SEO providers will give up as SEO is becoming more expensive and more labor intensive
- Many website owners will give up on SEO and turn to other marketing means like PPC, social media, etc.
The Bad From This Algorithm Update
I did notice some bad things from this update. For example, one keyword I was ranking well for using ethical, white hat SEO I dropped a little and a website that passed me up is brand new, has virtually no SEO work done, and really isn’t even relevant to the search term.
I’ve also seen some websites showing up in search results that are spamming even heavier than the ones that were removed, so there are certainly still some flaws with this update that I’m sure Google will continue to work on.
Perhaps the worst thing I’ve seen happen with this algorithm update is people looking for new ways to spam search engines already. The reality is people will always try to spam search results, and until Google does something major about this like change their algorithm completely to be less prone to spam, they will just be putting a bandaid on a wound that needs several stitches. Personally I wouldn’t want to be put in charge of this task as I know Google’s team works hard and has an immense job at keeping search results spam free, but at the same time I think they really need to look at their ranking factors and find some new factors that aren’t easy to manipulate and spam unless you do quality work and add value to the internet.
The Bottom Line On Google’s Recent Update
The bottom line is this: if you’ve been doing quality SEO work within Google’s guidelines, you likely weren’t effected at all by this update or better yet since your competitors dropped you may have been rewarded. We didn’t have a single client drop in rankings, in fact many of our clients improved in rankings after this update.
The update is still being rolled out according to Google, but in my opinion much of the update has already taken place as I’ve noticed several changes in search results. Just keep your eye on the target and on doing quality work and you should be able to make it through not only this update but any update in the future.