In his latest Webmaster Help video, Matt Cutts confirmed the recent rumours of a fairly major algorithm update due in the next few weeks, saying “We’re relatively close to deploying the next generation of Penguin. Internally, we call it “Penguin 2.0”.
“This one is a little more comprehensive than Penguin 1.0 and we expect it to go a little bit deeper and have a little bit more of an impact than the original version of Penguin.”
For better or worse, Penguin happened. Some link spam networks were rendered inert overnight, and Google have evidently continued to improve their link spam detection, as more and more website have found themselves caught in the crossfire.
But it is still all too common to find examples of shambolic websites that rank highly for competitive keywords based purely on a backlink profile consisting largely of optimised anchor text links from questionable sources. These nefarious practices have allowed these websites to cheat death and gorge themselves on the benefits of taking the place of websites that have lost visibility due to link building often performed years ago by people they no longer have any relationship with.
Damnit Google, you’ve made zombie websites!
But it’s OK! Matt Cutts and his trusty crossbow/algorithm update have been taking this sort of website down for quite a while now. And they seem to be getting better at it.
Cutts clearly recognises that they have to kill the head zombie to defeat the horde (or is that vampires? Vampires are a type of zombie, right? Shut up), saying “We’re also looking at some ways to go upstream to deny the value to link spammers. We’ve got some nice ideas on trying to make sure that that becomes less effective and so we expect that that will roll out over the next few months as well.”
So when he says they’re planning on clamping down on link spammers “advertorials, native advertising and those sorts of things that violate our quality guidelines”, I wonder if he finally means it? The webspam team at Google have been tackling the issue for years and it still seems that every time they deal with one source, the epidemic moves elsewhere. But there’s no denying the effect that the first Penguin updates have stemmed the tide significantly, so it’s not so hard to believe that they are getting closer and closer to their goal of eliminating webspam as a viable long term strategy, if not entirely.
Better yet, Cutts tells us that “We hope in the next few months to roll out a next generation of hacked sites detection that is even more comprehensive and also try to communicate better to webmasters”. What’s more useful in a zombie epidemic than early detection and a robust communication system? Besides a pump action shotgun, obviously.
“Try to make sure you make a great site that users love, that they’ll want to tell their friends about, bookmark, come back to, visit over and over again” says Cutts. “As long as you’re working hard to show great content to your users, we’re working hard to try to show your high quality content to users as well”.
So the message, as ever, is simple – Google want to include lively, healthy websites in their results pages, not a useless, unintelligent mess that serves only to gobble up as much traffic as it can. If you can only succeed by spamming, then Cutts warns of an “eventful Summer” ahead.