Google released a Spam Update on October 19, 2022, which affected a lot of websites. While It decreased the traffic and rankings of some websites but at the same time, it was beneficial for some developers. But what was this update all about and how can a website avoid getting hit by this kind of update and ultimately use it to its benefit? That’s what we are going to talk about.
Please keep in mind that this was a ‘Spam Update’ and not a ‘Core Update’.
Difference between Spam & Core Update
As the name suggests, in the Spam Update Google tries to renovate its systems which prevent its search engine from getting tricked by spammers. In this update, websites can gain or lose ranks. However, in the Core Update, the target is to improve the quality of search results served on the search engine results page SERP rather than targeting or punishing a website.
Which Websites Got Hit?
All those websites, violating one or more than one of the Google Spam Policies got hit by this update.
Can Websites Recover from this Update?
Yes, according to Google, these websites on the receiving end can recover their rankings on google. But websites have to fall in line with the guidelines of spam policies. What are these policies and how affected website publishers can rectify their mistakes? we’ll discuss it at length.
Spam Policy Violations and How to Recover from the Hit
This Google Spam Update of October 2022 affected the websites which knowingly or unknowingly violated one or more of the following fifteen spam policies.
Link Spam or Backlink Spam
The most commonly violated policy of Google is this. In this, publishers use different fraudulent ways to create links directed to either their website’s homepage or any specific post. Fraudulent Links can be;
- ‘Purchased Backlinks’ from any website,
- ‘Exchanged Backlinks’; which were made by the give-and-take consensus between webmasters,
- Automated Links, using third-party software or services to create backlinks,
- Forum Comments, unnecessarily putting links in the comments section of forum posts like a signature or otherwise.
- Footer Links, these are made in many ways, some of the common ways are to place the website’s link in a free theme’s footer,
- Low-Quality Directory Submission Websites & Bookmarking Links. Directory submission is the process of submitting your site details to a directory to create links. While Bookmarking involves inserting links on different platforms beneath social posts, images, or videos.
Many webmasters think that how Google’s SpamBrain- An AI-based Spam Prevention System of Google, keeps an eye on these fraudulent ways. The answer is simple, whoever is selling do-follow backlinks will not do it only once, it will be a business and will do it multiple times. The other backlink-building methods are traceable with the websites. For example, the websites that have allowed you to create automated links or spam forum link comments will have the same rule for everyone. Therefore, hundred or even thousands of spammy links will be generated in a day attracting the attention of SpamBrain, which will then analyze your backlink profile to determine irregularities.
But if you have created these backlinks, then you can use the following;
- Google Disavow Tool: It is an official tool of Google Search Console to disown any link coming to your website. Simply generate a Disavow File using any generator available online, Fill it with what you think are spammy links (One URL per Line) and then upload this file to the Disavow Tool of Google.
Please remember that you should use this tool cautiously and disavow only those links which you think are made by you or are otherwise spammy.
You have done your research and now you have the keywords that are searched by your targeted users. But then you come across an idea to use these keywords in every heading, every sentence, and in every paragraph unnecessarily just to make sure that the search engine crawler of Google picks up your keyword, understands your intent, and then catapults your website to your desired ranking. Google Spam Update of October 2022 inflicted ranking penalties on the sites doing this.
You have to understand that Google uses ‘Web Semantics’ of machine learning. It is the concept of understanding the intent and sentiments of the user’s search. Therefore this ancient keyword stuffing concept should be laid to rest by webmasters now.
There is no safe limit or percentage of keyword usage recommended by Google. However, you should use the keywords naturally. If you feel that a certain keyword is necessary for a particular part of your content and its absence will make content ambiguous, then you should use the keyword.
The solution to this policy violation is quite simple. Just revisit the posts and pages that you think need editing and remove the stuffed keyword from your content. Next time whenever the google crawlers will crawl the website, the edited content will be crawled and will help the publishers to reverse the effects of the spam update.
As the name suggests, some scammers use cloaking to deceive Google. They present different content to the crawling bots of a search engine by using programmed commands to the servers. Cloaking can be done in many ways. The most commonly used cloaking practice is User Agent Cloaking. It will differentiate between the User Agent Bots or Crawlers and a living user and will show different content for bots and different content to the user.
For whatever reason, a webmaster is doing this, this malpractice should be stopped immediately. There is no second solution. Webmasters have to completely remove the program commands or whatever tricks they are using to deceive the search engine.
This is mostly done unintentionally but still, it is a policy violation of Google. In this violation, a webmaster uses the same or almost the same content to target multiple keywords.
For example; A construction firm is working in Newyork, Atlanta, and Chicago. It targets the ‘Construction Service’ keyword and it uses the same or almost similar content for multiple service pages like ‘Construction Services in Newyork’, ‘Construction Services in Atlanta’, and ‘Construction Services in Chicago’. It is a policy violation and publishers cannot use the same content to target multiple keywords.
There is no need to completely remove those pages from your website. However, those should be edited. Use unique content to target different keywords. If images are similar change them and most probably your problem will be resolved.
Google can penalize a site for its content. The available hacked content on a website may be due to a phishing attempt.
Screen your website and delete any forced content. Always Keep your website safe. Keep the account passwords of your CMS (WordPress etc), Hosting, Domain Registrars, and CDN (Cloudflare, etc) unique and strong. Never use nulled themes or plugins (free or hacked versions of the premium themes available outside the official developer’s site).
Anything in the content which is not visible to human visitors and is only visible to the Google search engine crawlers is a Spam Policy Violation of Google.
Webmasters use this as a ‘Growth Hack’ to achieve different objectives. Mostly they use it to add multiple keywords in the content without showing it to human visitors. There are many tricks to do it. For example, using the same color for the background and font, reducing the font size to zero, placing an image on such content, placing the desired hiding text outside the viewport, or making the font transparent using CSS.
It has already been discussed that Google doesn’t like keywords to be unnecessarily used. So, if you are using any of these tricks to feed keywords then simply abort this operation and your website will slowly get better.
Any automatic script which performs a search on Google using your server and later uses it for any purpose is a policy violation.
Google is free for everyone to perform any search but getting into the hands of bots put an extra burden on the server of Google. So, if you are using any of these map scripts you should remove them to gain back your ranking.
Scraping Other Websites
Using the same content, content with little change, or spun content from any other website is considered a spam practice by Google. Therefore, Google will punish your website and you will be de-ranked from the search engine positions.
You should use your own content with thorough research on the keywords that you are working on and remove the copied content from your website completely.
The use of content that is generated through AI-based tools is considered a Spam Policy Violation. Google is all about the user experience and it uses web semantics to learn more about the sentiment of the searches. Therefore, it expects publishers to use well-researched human-written content to improve its user experience.
If any such content is available on your website then you have to remove it.
If for any reason (phishing attempt or your own) your website attempts to download or install any unasked or unwanted malicious software, app, file, addon, or any browser extension in the devices of your visiting users then your website is violating the spam policy.
If you are doing it intentionally, please remove that script, plugin, etc. But if there is a phishing attempt on your website, you should thoroughly scan and clean your website. After all, this is a serious violation and needs to be addressed quickly.
If your website has brought or attracted visitors with a promise of any function but fails to provide the said function for whatever reason, your website is violating the spam policy of Google.
Simply provide the promised function on your website. If your website has promised that it will convert jpeg to gif format then this function should be present and fully functional on your website.
Creating different URL redirects for different devices, users, etc is a violation. For example, if your website has a different URL for mobile phone users and you use a redirect for desktop users taking them to a different page is against the spam policy of Google.
In some cases, redirection is fine but it is not good to show completely different content for users who have the same search intention.
Lazy Affiliate Pages
The websites not adding any value to their affiliate content and using the same content, images, and videos originally used by the manufacturers are violating the spam policy of Google. These sorts of affiliate websites are mostly affected by the updates.
Google has always demanded unique and value-added affiliate content from bloggers to explain the product more than the manufacturer with the help of images, videos, and audio. Therefore, just copy-pasting the content from the manufacturer will make you vulnerable to spam policy violation hit.
User Generated Spam
In October 2022, Google Spam Update affected these types of sites too. If your website does not have any system for moderating the content posted by different visitors on your website, then there is a mighty chance that your website will soon be loaded with spammy comments and deceptive posts. Eventually, Google will count your website as a contributor to spam, and your ranking will be greatly affected.
Check your website links, and text and clean up all the spam created on your site which will help you in restoring your ranking. As a preventive measure, your website should have a moderation system for the posted content with a default system of providing all the links a ‘UGC Link Rel Status’ (rel=“UGC”), which will signal Google that this respective link is in the User Generated Content.
If your website copies the appearance of a brand to deceive visitors, then your website may be subjected to the penalties for Spam Policy Violation of Google.
Just don’t do it. You should not copy the color scheme or logo of any brand site to deceive visitors. Also, make sure to be careful in declaring yourself an authorized dealer or affiliate of a brand.
We have tried our level best to explain every possible reason to explain the hit on your website due to this Google Spam Update of October 2022. Now it is time for you to take action on the recommendations. Please share your feedback either through the ‘Feedback and Contact’ page or the ‘Comments’ section below.
Enjoy your visit!