Google’s October 2022 Spam Update Explained
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Google announced on Wednesday 19th October that they’ve started rolling out their October 2022 spam update.
This marks the third algorithm update in the last three months, following August’s helpful content update and September’s core update.
They are spoiling us, aren’t they?
As always, each update brings about some new changes to the way Google ranks web pages, so here’s what Google has announced for this update and what it means for your website!
What is a spam update?
Google’s automated systems use a range of signals to determine whether a website uses spam tactics to manipulate their search rankings.
Every so often, Google updates these automated systems so they can better identify these websites, monitor their actions, and issue penalties to sites that break their policies.
Here is Google’s statement for this month’s update:
“While Google’s automated systems to detect search spam are constantly operating, we occasionally make notable improvements to how they work. When we do, we refer to this as a spam update and share when they happen on our list of Google Search ranking updates.
For example, SpamBrain is our AI-based spam-prevention system. From time-to-time, we improve that system to make it better at spotting spam and to help ensure it catches new types of spam.
Sites that see a change after a spam update should review our spam policies to ensure they are complying with those. Sites that violate our policies may rank lower in results or not appear in results at all. Making changes may help a site improve if our automated systems learn over a period of months that the site complies with our spam policies.”Google’s Announcement on the October 2022 spam update.
While it doesn’t seem to be a drastic update to their processes, like with all their other updates, it will have some form of impact on Google Search results.
The good news is, there are steps you can take to ensure that your website is spam-free and doesn’t take a hit once the update has been fully rolled out.
What you need to do
To avoid your rankings taking a dip, or dropping off completely, you need to make sure that your website follows Google’s spam policies.
This means you need to check your website internally to ensure that you’re not using any design or SEO practices that go against Google’s rules, and also review your backlink profile to make sure any spammy websites aren’t dragging you down.
Keep your links and text visible
When crawling your website, one factor that Google’s system will look for is hidden text and links.
People often try to add hidden text, typically links or keywords, to their web pages to improve the SEO of that page, without it being visible to users and making the page look messy.
But Google is more intelligent than you think.
Rather than finding the link or keywords and using it to add context to your site, Google will see it as a spammy attempt to manipulate their algorithm.
So, if you’ve got any of the following on your website, you should remove it as soon as possible:
- Text hidden behind image elements
- White text hidden on a white background
- Text that is positioned off-screen using CSS
- Hidden links that are created by linking small characters, like apostrophes, full stops, commas etc.
- Test that is transparent or too small to see
Implement keywords naturally
Keywords stuffing is definitely one to avoid.
If you’ve intentionally filled a page with keywords in the hopes that Google will pick it up and rank your page higher for those keywords, then that goes against Google’s spam policies.
You should only use keywords naturally throughout your website content.
But, that’s not to say you shouldn’t strategically place keywords.
As a general rule, if you have a specific keyword you want a page to rank for, try to include it in:
- Page headings (H1, H2, H3)
- Page content (use the keyword a few times throughout your writing)
- Anchor text (any linked text)
- Meta titles and descriptions
- Page URLs
- Image names and alt-text
Avoid link spam
Internal link spam is a big part of Google’s spam policies.
If you have any links on your website or links pointing to your website that are intended to manipulate your search rankings or another site’s rankings, then this goes against Google’s policies too.
- Buying and selling links to improve your rank
- Using link automation tools and services
- Linked advertisements that aren’t tagged as ‘nofollow’ or ‘sponsored’
- Low-quality directory backlinks
- Links from mass linking sites (link farms)
- Blog comments with spam links
- Forums comments with spam links in the footer
These are all examples that Google give of link spam.
To make sure your links aren’t being seen as spammy, check your website’s internal links, and check that your backlink portfolio is healthy with low spam scores.
Be original with your content
Copied or plagiarised content is something that Google certainly frowns upon and can be considered spam.
If you’ve copied content from another website to use on your pages and left it as it was or only swapped out a few words, Google sees this as scraped content.
Especially after the helpful content update in August, Google is doubling down on rewarding content that provides a lot of value and penalising low-quality content.
To avoid creating spam content, make sure that you’re producing original content that provides value to your target audience, and if you take content from another source, change it up so that it doesn’t get flagged as plagiarised content.
Keep your website secure
If your website isn’t secure, you’re at a much higher risk of being hacked or hijacked.
Because of the dangers of malicious hacked content online, Google sees any sites injected with malicious code, content or entire pages as spam. Also, if hackers have redirected any of your pages to external malicious sites or content, there’s a risk to your users as well as your rankings.
Make sure that your website’s SSL certificate is in complete order and that your website’s server security is strong.
Need some help with your SEO?
If you’re worried that the spam update might impact your website and you’re unsure how to fix it, get in touch!
Our SEO experts can run a full audit of your website, identify any potential problem areas, and take the proper steps to improve your website’s SEO.
Give us a call on 01329 565001 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to speak with a member of our team!