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Stay Ahead of the Game: The Latest Google Search Algorithm Updates

It’s important to keep up to date with changes to the Google search algorithm. Changes can drastically affect your ranking positions.

Here is a helpful list of algorithm updates with links to the tweet where you can find more information about the update.

December 2022 Link Spam Update

This update was designed to improve the detection of unnatural links and neutralize any credit passed by them. Sites with spammy links pointing to them as well as sites linking out to other sites in an unnatural way can be affected. This update affects all the languages.

December 2022 Helpful Content

The second helpful content update enhances the helpful content system introduced by Google in August. It expands to all languages, and can introduce new ranking signals or adjust existing ones.

October 2022 Link Spam Update

The update was designed to improve Google’s automated systems’ ability to detect spam and catch new types of spam.

google bot

September 2022 Product Review Update

Update to ensure people see product reviews that share in-depth research, rather than thin content that simply summarizes a bunch of products.

August 2022 Helpful Content Update

Massive update that heavily rewards people-first content.

The Helpful Content system is explained below in this article.


Google Helpful Content System

Google’s ranking system uses a signal to show helpful, original content in search results. The Helpful Content system is designed to ensure content is written by people, for people.

The system generates a site-wide signal that we consider among many other signals for ranking web pages.

Our systems automatically identify content that seems to have little value, low-added value or is otherwise not particularly helpful to those doing searches.

Google Helpful Content System

How does the helpful content system work?

The system works by better rewarding content the people find valuable and satisfying. Content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations will not do so well.

If you think your website could be impacted by this update you should take the follow actions.

  • Remove unhelpful content from your site
  • Remove low quality content from your site
  • Remove content with low value, e.g. articles with fewer than 400 words for example

The signal is weighted. This means content considered to be unhelpful from a site already containing a lot of unhelpful content will have a stronger negative effect.

Ensure you are creating people-first content.

Your content should be created for other people to read. Sure, you can optimize for search engines but the intention should be to help other people, not to rank highly in Google.

Read more from Google on how to create this type of content: Creating Helpful Content

How long will it take for the site to improve after unhelpful content is removed?

Months. The site-wide signal of unhelpful content is likely to last for multiple months. After the system no longer finds unhelpful content and no new unhelpful content has been added for a while the unhelpful content signal will be removed.

Google periodically updates the system and as a result of the update, the unhelpful content signal may no longer be applied to your site.

How Google detects Spam

Google tries to detect spam content and links. If your site is found with this kind of content expect your site to be impacted.

Check out Google’s spam policy here:

Some things you should not do if you don’t want to get penalized by Google:

  • Cloaking
    • Presenting different content to users and search engines with the intent to manipulate search rankings and mislead users
    • Examples: showing a page about travel destinations to search engines while showing a page about discount drugs to users, inserting text or keywords into a page only when the user agent that is requesting the page is a search engine
  • Doorways
    • Sites or pages created to rank for specific, similar search queries that lead users to intermediate pages that are not as useful as the final destination
    • Examples: multiple websites with slight variations to the URL and home page, multiple domain names or pages targeted at specific regions or cities that funnel users to one page, pages generated to funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of a site(s), substantially similar pages that are closer to search results than a clearly defined, browseable hierarchy
  • Hacked content
    • Any content placed on a site without permission, due to vulnerabilities in a site’s security
    • Examples: code injection, page injection, content injection, redirects
  • Hidden text and links
    • Placing content on a page in a way solely to manipulate search engines and not to be easily viewable by human visitors
    • Examples: using white text on a white background, hiding text behind an image, using CSS to position text off-screen, setting the font size or opacity to 0, hiding a link by only linking one small character
  • Sneaky redirects
    • Redirecting users to a different page than the one they intended to visit
    • Examples: redirecting users to a page with a different language or country, redirecting users to a page with malware
  • Spamming
    • Using techniques or tactics that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines to try to improve a site’s ranking in Google Search results
    • Examples: keyword stuffing, link schemes, cloaking, scraping content from other websites and republishing it, creating pages with little
  • Thin affiliate pages: pages with copied product descriptions and reviews from original merchants without added value
  • User-generated spam: spammy content added to a site by users through channels intended for user content
    • Spammy accounts on hosting services
    • Spammy posts on forum threads
    • Comment spam on blogs
    • Spammy files uploaded to file hosting platforms

Other reasons for demotion or removal from Google’s index are:

  • Legal removals: High volume of valid copyright removal requests can result in demotion of other content from the site in search results
  • Personal information removals: High volume of personal information removals involving a site with exploitative removal practices can result in demotion of other content from the site in search results
  • Policy circumvention: Actions intended to bypass spam or content policies for Google Search can result in restriction or removal of eligibility for search features
  • Scam and fraud: Automated systems seek to identify pages with scammy or fraudulent content and prevent them from showing up in search results

Final Thoughts

Google frequently updates its search algorithm and these updates can have a big impact on your site. Stay informed of changes and updates so your website keeps providing content that ranks well with Google.

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