Google announced a new search algorithm targeting webspam is now live. Marketers have been waiting for an update since last month, when Brafton featured a comment from Google’s Matt Cutts that essentially warned marketers that SEO was headed for a major shift. Websites focused more on gaming Google’s algorithms to gain search visibility without providing users a high-quality experience were the likely target of the update, but no one knew when it would come.
Google provided the answer on Tuesday, announcing its new algorithm that fights webspam. Cutts explicitly mentioned keyword stuffing and link schemes as two types of webspam techniques the algorithm will target. Google predicts about 3.1 percent of English search queries will be affected, and it referenced Panda’s impact on 12 percent of queries as context.
In Google’s Webmaster Central blog, Cutts highlighted content from a website that offered a keyword-dense article, but the key terms used had little relevance to the overall content. While the site published content, it was clearly attempting to manipulate search rankings by stuffing keywords into a blog post that had little to do with the actual subject matter.
“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.”
Keywords have traditionally been a critical component of a content marketing campaign that businesses want to use to fuel search engine optimization (among other results). They still are essential to visibility, but companies will need to be more disciplined and strategic about their use of key terms as instances of excessive keyword use (and other exploitations of SEO best practices) will be punished moving forward.
For companies that have created high-quality, user-friendly website content but struggled to move up search rankings, this algorithmic update may help them achieve the SERP standing they desire. Brafton had earlier reported that Cutts had mentioned “leveling the playing field” when describing future Google algorithm udpates.
Ultimately, the description of the update suggests those that create content aimed at making a user’s experience better will rank well. Those who sacrifice user experience to exploit search algorithms will be punished. There will be no magic bullets to determine which sites are safe from the webspam update. Cutts says:
Google has made a series of updates in recent months with a similar goal in mind. Brafton has covered a number of Panda updates that resulted in countless websites’ search standing dropping. Aside from these well-publicized updates, Google has rolled out new algorithms designed to detect content that was above the fold, which makes it easier for users to access the article, blog post or video they came to the site to see.