Google Spam Update Sparks Relentless Discontent

Google spam updates have in previously been welcomed by the search marketing community. Today’s announcement reflected the sour mood of the search marketing and publishing community that is still reeling from six months of disruptive updates and the rollout of AI Overviews which is widely regarded as a traffic-stealing feature.

It’s not an overstatement to say that the response to Google’s spam update is relentlessly negative.

Not The Update Publishers Are Waiting For

Google’s March 2024 Core Update, which took about 45 days to complete, devastated the rankings for many site owners. Although Google no longer has a Helpful Content system (aka HCU), many site owners and SEOs who were affected by the HCU from last year are still waiting for a new update that would hopefully “fix” what many feel was a broken update.

One person tweeted:

“@JohnMu @searchliaison can this update remove the sitewide classifier still applied to sites since last September HCU? Or do we need to wait for a larger core update?”

Another person appeared to be laughing through their tears when they tweeted a screenshot showing their web traffic was down to six organic visitors:

“Google is coming after my last 6 organic visitors🤣Bring it on! Let’s see if we get to 0.”

Another person shared that they are demoralized from having lost 95% of their traffic from past updates:

“Honestly, it doesn’t matter what update you have under your sleeve. I’m uninstalling Google Site Kit from my site. Seeing constant, declining charts and figures every time I log into WordPress is demoralizing. They remind me that I’ve lost 95% of my traffic for no reason at all.”

A tweet that’s representative of the widespread sentiment that Google’s updates are broken:

“Your harmful monopoly is ruining the internet. Every one of your updates kills more independent websites while boosting spam.”

Another person tweeted:

“Google has turned many helpful websites into lost places”

It could be that Google’s last update missed the mark. But some of those who are affected by the updates from last year could (rightly or wrongly) be suffering from a shift in how Google defines site quality or relevance. Many are hoping that Google reverses course.

Backlash Against Pinterest In SERPs

Some of the feedback was about dissatisfaction with how Google ranked websites. One person tweeted that they hoped the spam update fixed Google’s preference for ranking Pinterest:

“Does this update means that Google will start to show my website when users make a “brand search” instead of my pins on pinterest?”

Backlash About Reddit in SERPs

Another person offered feedback about the (common) perception that Google is ranking Reddit for too many queries.

They tweeted:

“Reddit is the only spam in the SERP right now”

That sentiment about Reddit in the SERPs was shared by many others:

“Interesting to see Google roll out a spam update! I wonder how it will affect Reddit’s ranking in search results. Personally, I haven’t found a lot of truly helpful content there, Reddit is just spamming in search result.”

What About The Site Reputation Update?

Site reputation abuse is a form of spam where a digital marketer publishes content on a third party website for the purpose leveraging the site reputation for quick rankings. It’s a shortcut for avoiding having to create and promote an entirely new website.

Google SearchLiaison responded to a question of whether this spam update included the algorithmic version of the site reputation abuse update that Google announced was forthcoming. SearchLiaison responded that no, this update didn’t contain algorithmic elements for targeting site reputation abuse.

He tweeted:

“For the third time now, I’ll say again, I have every confidence that when we’re acting on site reputation abuse algorithmically, we’ll say that. It’s not right now. I also won’t be responding to this particular question every week so maybe let it go a month between asking (I don’t mean that as harsh as it sounds just that it’s not useful or productive for me to do the “are we there yet” over and over again)”

SearchLiaison followed up with:

“I mean I’d figure most wondering about this would know it’s a standard spam update given there’s no blog post, no “FYI things to know” and it’s just a regular posting to our dashboard

That said, I know people are asking Barry even though I’ve said what I just said above at least twice before. So I figured if I’m going to say it at least a third time, I’ll try again to explain why it’s not really something to ask about each week.”

No Description Of Spam Update

Changes to Google’s rankings are rarely announced except when it’s anticipated that the effects to rankings may be noticeable, which by that measure makes this update notable and significant, particularly because the update will take an entire week to roll out.

Google sometimes publishes a blog post about their spam updates but there is no accompanying article that details what this spam update is targeting, which may be a factor contributing to the anxiety expressed in some of the responses to Google’s announcement.

Related: An In-Depth Look At Google Spam Policies Updates And What Changed

Google Has A Sentiment Problem

A combination of AI Overviews, Helpful Content Update from late 2023 to the recent updates dating from March are all combining to create negative sentiment in the digital marketing community. The so-called leak added to fuel to that fire. Even though the data revealed nothing that wasn’t already known, some are using it justify their long held suspicions and accusing Google of lying.  And it’s not just the search marketing community, independent web publishers and big brand news organizations have soured on Google, too.

So much negative sentiment has accumulated over the past year that the spam update, which would normally be cheered, is now met with skepticism and complaints.

Read Google’s spam announcement:

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Cast Of Thousands

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