The much anticipated over-optimization penalty has arrived, and the most roguish (or simply the most uninformed) SEO's are in full-on panic mode.
Google announced that it has taken a step to reward high-quality sites, but what it has really done is punish those engaged in techniques and tactics that don't provide a good user experience. Sounds Ok to me.
Google has been very vocal about its anti-webspam efforts the past few months, rolling out some serious Panda changes as well as a page layout algorithm which lowered the ranking of sites that emphasized advertising over content clarity particularly above the web design fold. But this algorithm change is different.
This change takes a direct shot at webspam and will (very likely) decrease rankings for sites that Google believes are knowingly violating its existing quality guidelines. While no mention of specific signals that would warrant a ranking drop were made, Google made it clear in the announcement exactly the type of behaviors that would be deemed black hat and jeopardize a high ranking. At least it’s a start.
Google referenced two web spam tactics in particular, the first being keyword stuffing - which has long been discredited as a reasonable means to optimize a page for higher rankings. The second example is a little more complex and something that Google has long struggled with in my opinion - article spinning.
The example provided by Google (see image below) showed "unusual linking patterns" - call it link spam - within the content. The links within that content were completely unrelated to the content itself – giving Google an indication that something was amiss. The article was spun, or created automatically with the help of software.
Article spinning essentially takes a piece of content and replaces different parts or elements of the article with “spintax” (a play on the word syntax) which is really just a list of text, but most often keyword-laden links used in an attempt to game the search engine. Many of the algorithm changes we’ve covered here at Website Magazine were focused on the use of anchor text and this may be one manifestation of those changes.
Google indicated that this change in particular will go live for all languages at the same time. While the recent Panda change affected about 12 percent of search queries to a “significant degree”, this change affects 3 percent of search queries in English to a degree that a “regular user might notice.” This algorithm change will affect other languages to varying degrees.
Link Spam Example Provided By Google: