Google spam update: Confirmed

On the morning of October 21st, Google confirmed that they completed their October 2022 spam update. It appears to have been relatively mild, which is fairly standard for a spam update, according to Barry Schwartz.

Thus far, overall rankings have not moved much since the start of the rollout, but stay vigilant, as some sites with a large amount of AI generated or updated content have seen volatility in rankings. If the content on your site is already in line with Google’s spam policies, you probably don’t have much to worry about.

But make sure to keep avoiding the types of spam that Google actively detects such as:

  • Cloaking: misleading searches about the content on the landing pages
  • Hidden text and links: any items not visible to humans
  • Keyword stuffing: unnecessary and excessive inclusion words or numbers
  • Link spam: links that don’t provide real value
  • Misleading functionality: pages that don’t offer the benefits they claim to
  • Scraped content: content essentially replicated from other sites
  • Spammy automatically-generated content: “auto-generated” content created for the sake of having content”

Recent rankings volatility

Despite the typically minor impact spam updates have on rankings, there’s been a ton of chatter. Some of that could be due to the hypothesis that Google may be showing fewer rich results and People Also Ask (PAA) results.

However, the declines in these significant result types seem almost too drastic to be legitimate, especially for PAA. It’s almost definitely that there was a bug with the tracking software since multiple tools are all showing PAAs drop to zero, which isn’t likely.

Google algorithm update: Unconfirmed

Beginning on October 13th, top ranking tools began noticing a significant tremor that seems to show Google is starting to roll out some type of new update. Thus far, the scale of the update—which is still unconfirmed by Google—seems to be fairly significant.

Graph depicting the fluctuations in rankings in relation to Google updates over the last four weeks
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The last time we saw a shift this large was in September when the rollouts of the Product Reviews and September core updates were completed. This newest update is already showing more volatility and it appears to just be getting started. So brace yourselves for more turbulence in the coming days.

Whether Google is turning the dial up or down is still unclear. But the updates from the second half of the year seem to be aimed at course-correcting updates from the first half. For example, a number of accounts saw huge drops in SERP presence and rank after a Product Reviews update in July only to have them return to more expected levels after September’s Product Reviews update.

Graph depicting Google Search Console rank fluctuations over the summer.
Source: Google Search Console

While there may be some seasonality at play, including traffic declines during Q2 due to increased travel as more of the world opened back up this summer, Q3 traffic may see rebounds to quality sites and content.

However, the helpful content updates do still appear to be working correctly to deflate duplicate, unoriginal, and unhelpful content, which is, of course, the overarching goal of these updates.

Stay tuned for more updates.

In the meantime, visit our Google algorithm updates resource page to learn more about the history of Google’s updates and the impact of the most recent ones on SERPs and websites.

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