Last month at SXSW our good friend Matt Cutts announced that the web spam team was working on an over optimization algorithm update that would target and penalize sites that are "over-optimized" or "overly SEO'ed."
Yesterday afternoon, Matt announced on the Webmaster Central Blog that they are officially rolling the update out "in the next few days" (we saw shake up in the SERPs starting around 8pm last night) and that the update will be focusing on cleaning up webspam and taking action against sites that violate their quality guidelines.
If you are in the online marketing space, you've been hearing about this all day today. Although it's normal for Google to make tweaks to the algorithm after a major update improve upon the initial results, this is one of the worst updates since the Florida update in regards to ridding the search engine of webspam.
Early this morning, one of our guys sent me a link to the search query "make money online". Here you can clearly see an example of what Google believes to be a better result for users.
As you can see from the screenshot above, Google is clearly favoring Blogspot (a Google property) for a very competitive term. Okay, maybe they earned that position, but wait a minute it gets worse... See the next screen shot.
Where's the content? Clearly Google can't think this is an authoritative site that provides value to the end user. If this is what you call webspam cleanup, we are all in for it! Thanks Google! (as of 4:52 Google has pulled this from their results after mass circulation on forums and social networks)
If you think this is an isolated example, let's turn to Search Engine Land's winners and losers that was published this afternoon.
So here's our take on this. Clearly the update sucks and has negatively affected quite a few legitimate business out there. We realize that we are about 24 hours into this thing and Google can do one of three things, first, roll back the update, two, quickly make tweaks to help improve current results, or three, leave it as is and risk billions of dollars in paid advertising. Obviously the third is probably not an option for them.
In the meantime, it would be very smart for everyone to check their on page optimizations as referenced by Rand Fishkin on Friday of last week, and also check their off page link building efforts as referenced by our own Kevin Phelps on Monday. There are countless posts about how to properly publish content, attract quality backlinks, and convert your visitors into paying customers... so get busy!