Google has confirmed that yesterday (June 23rd 2021) saw an algorithm update roll out to fight spam in the search engine’s search results. While the rollout was relatively short by Google standards, completing the same day it started, a second update is due to follow next week.
These spam updates are not core algorithm updates, which take multiple days to roll out but are part of what Google calls its regular work to improve search results for users. The updates follow on from work that Google carried out last year to fight spam, although it has always been trying to limit the number of spam results.
What does Google classify as spam?
Google has a very strict definition of what is classed as spam, which means that legitimate websites are unlikely to be affected – although you may see the odd temporary fluctuation. So long as your site follows Google’s webmaster guidelines, you shouldn’t be negatively affected by either rollout.
Essentially, the sites that Google will be targeting are those considered to be low-quality ones that attempt to trick people into providing personal information or installing malware. The updates will also be targeting sites that pose as highly relevant pages or those identified as phishing scams.
However, the update could affect sites that have been hacked to serve spam to users without the site owners knowing. This is why it is vital that sites are adequately protected against hacks.
Google releases a spam-fighting update annually, which indicates that hacked spam is currently a huge problem. This means that if your site is legitimate but has seen a ranking drop after yesterday’s update or experiences one tomorrow, it could have been affected by a hack. In this case, you should check over the security to assess whether there are signs of an attack.
How does Google deal with spam?
When Google identifies a spam site, it either demotes the content in search results – meaning that legitimate sites are more visible – or it removes the site from its index completely. The result is that Google estimates 99% of visits from search results are kept free of spam.
Last year alone, Google locked 25 billion spam pages from being indexed every day, which is great news for legitimate sites following the rules. However, spammers are continually changing methods to get around Google’s algorithm, which is why it is releasing these two new spam updates.
We will likely get to see the results of the updates in next year’s spam-fighting report.
Do I need to do anything about the update?
Most sites won’t need to do anything about the update at all, so long as they are following the rules. If you have been subject to a hack that sees you serving spam without realising it, you will want to beef up your site security to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Our CEO Matt Janaway said: “In most cases, these spam updates don’t affect genuine sites and can actually benefit them in rankings by removing spam results ranking for their keywords. As with any Google update, you may see some fluctuations in rankings over the next week, but you won’t be affected if your site is legitimate.
“In order to avoid being affected by spam updates in the future, as well as other algorithm updates, it’s best to ensure you are following Google’s webmaster guidelines, publishing helpful, quality content and constantly ensuring your site’s security is working.”
Google has said that it will announce when the next stage of the update starts and finishes in its Twitter thread.