On Wednesday, December 14, 2022, Google rolled out a major update to its search algorithm. The goal of the update was to reduce link spam on the internet and penalize websites found to be engaging in it.
While reducing link spam is generally meant to improve the quality of search content on the web, website owners and digital marketers could have noticed and been affected negatively by this update.
You may have seen a drop in your web traffic as your keyword rankings dropped.
The big change that the Google December 2022 update brought was how it handled backlinks.
Any website found to be engaging in link spam will now receive a penalty, causing its search ranking to drop.
Referring to the link spam update, Google announced:
“Today, we’re leveraging the power of SpamBrain to neutralize the impact of unnatural links on search results.”
SpamBrain is an AI-based tool from Google that helps identify link spam and discrepancies in website SEO.
“SpamBrain is our AI-based spam-prevention system.”
The December 2022 Link Spam Update is just one of many Google algorithm updates that have been released recently. To avoid a penalty, it’s usually best practice to stay on top of the latest Google updates and audit your website for any potential issues.
“Besides using it to detect spam directly, it can now detect both sites buying links and sites used for the purpose of passing outgoing links.”
What this update means for your site
For most websites, the December 2022 Link Spam Update should not have a drastic effect on rankings and web traffic. However, if Google’s SpamBrain found you to be engaging in “link spam,” it’s possible that your website could have been affected.
Consequently, you could see a hit to keyword rankings and website traffic.
Links for search rankings
Google’s official statement, titled the December 2022 Link Spam Update, acknowledged their efforts to reduce link spam on the web:
“Our launch today, which we refer to as the December 2022 link spam update, will take about two weeks to fully roll out. Ranking may change as spammy links are neutralized and any credit passed by these unnatural links are lost. This launch will affect all languages.”
“As we have always emphasized, links obtained primarily for artificial manipulation of Search rankings are link spam.”
“Our algorithms and manual actions aim to nullify these unnatural links at scale, and we will continue to improve our coverage.”
Google then stated,
“If you come across sites that engage in inorganic link building, please report them to us.”
Recognizing that buying links is part of the everyday web economy, Google encourages a “nofollow” link attribution.
The December 2022 Link Spam Update is part of Google’s continued effort to combat said “link spam” and improve the quality of its search results.