Caption: With so many Google algorithm updates coming our way, it can be quite difficult to keep up. But, to make it easier for you, we have brought this blog detailing everything about Google’s October 2023 spam update and its effect on SEO for local search.
Being the most-used search engine, businesses and digital marketers keep an eye on Google algorithm updates. Once again, Google has shaken up the SEO industry with its October 2023 spam update. This is quite surprising as it is the third core update on Google algorithm changes after the August 2023 and September 2023 update. Although this can be quite confusing, as digital marketers and social media experts, we are here to break down what the October 2023 spam update means and its effect on SEO for local search. Jump right into the article to get started with navigating SEO updates to ensure better rankings as seamlessly as possible.
What is an Algorithm and what is its significance?
Search engine algorithms are a set of complex formulas, functions, and rules that help determine the order in which web pages are displayed in the search engine result pages. Since Google is undoubtedly one of the most-used search engines, most social media experts recommend businesses focus on boosting their local search rankings by optimizing content as per Google’s algorithm changes. But, what exactly is the purpose of Google’s search engine and ranking algorithm? Well, these algorithms are aimed to provide users with the most relevant search results to ensure a better and more seamless user experience.
Google’s search algorithm takes a number of factors into account to ensure that the results offered are as relevant as possible. Some commonly known factors include the web page’s content, relevance of the content to the search query, the reputation and trustworthiness of the web page, and user engagement. Based on all the factors, Google assigns each web page a score or rank and displays pages with higher scores at the top of search results. This is why a number of websites focus on optimizing content based on Google’s local search ranking factors to ensure a good ranking. We recommend utilizing popular and commonly used local SEO strategies to get the best possible results.
The next question that you must have in mind is why Google’s algorithm changes so frequently. Some reasons why we see so many Google algorithm updates are:-
- Evolving user expectations
As the industries around us adapt to new technologies, user behavior and expectations keep evolving. To ensure that they properly cater to these, Google regularly changes and updates its search engine algorithm.
- Prevent spam and manipulation
With more and more people engaging in digital platforms, a lot of our data is present online. This also means that more businesses are looking for ways to game the system for their profits. With regular algorithm updates, Google combats spam, and black hat SEO practices, and prevents low-quality SEO content from gaining engagement. Ultimately, this ensures that deserving websites with engaging content rank higher.
- Technology advancements
As technology keeps advancing, Google keeps updating its search algorithm. This is done to ensure that the algorithm utilizes advanced technologies like AI and ML to improve the quality of search results.
- Improvement and higher relevance in search results
With the constant growth of the internet and increasing digitization, new content keeps on being added. Search engine algorithms are updated to ensure that the changes in web content are registered and the results shown are as per user interests. This is another reason why small business SEO and commercial SEO are becoming more and more popular.
- Enhanced user experience
Search engines aim to enhance the relevance of search results to benefit users and provide them with access to the best possible web pages. With algorithm updates, search engines are more capable of understanding user intent. This also means that search engines deliver more accurate and reliable results to their search queries.
- Mobile and local search
With the increased usage of mobile devices and the increased importance of local SEO, Google algorithm updates are important to ensure more relevant results for specific contexts become available. After all, local SEO is a great way of ensuring that businesses better reach their target audience concentrated in and around the business areas.
To summarize, Google algorithm updates are a great way to ensure that our search engines are functional and provide the best possible results to search queries. These are also a great way to ensure that search engines are aligned with today’s user behavior, technological advancements, and the ever-expanding internet content.
A Brief on Google’s October 2023 Spam Update
Google utilizes automated systems to detect search spam and periodically releases updates that are labeled as spam updates. These spam updates provide information on how Google ranks websites and detects spam to ensure that they offer reliable results to search queries.
Google’s October 2023 Spam Update is aimed at enhancing spam detection across different languages and spam types. Under this recent update, Google’s search engine will become capable of detecting spam in languages including Turkish, Vietnamese, Hindi, Indonesian, Chinese, and more. In this update, issues like cloaking, hacked content, auto-generated content, and scraped material are also dealt with. The ultimate focus is to reduce visible spam in search results and the update is planned to roll out over several weeks.
After this October 2023 spam update, websites experiencing changes must ensure that they are following Google’s algorithm guidelines. This is all the more necessary to ensure that they are not suffering from spam penalties and can boost their chances of appearing in local search results. Note that violations can lead to lower search engine rankings or complete removal of online visibility for local businesses. We also recommend that sites aligned with Google’s spam policies make required changes and improvements over time.
In case any link spam update is published, modifications and improvements might not yield any benefits in the business’ ranking. This is because the impact of spammy links will become nullified and businesses will not be able to restore any ranking advantages that were previously attributed to these links.
How can you recover your penalized website for better local search rankings?
Since the October 2023 spam update will be launched over several weeks, website rankings and SERPs might take some time to stabilize. We recommend waiting for some time before checking whether the spam update affected your local search rankings or not. If affected, you must follow local SEO best practices to ensure that your content is relevant and helpful. You must ensure that your website content aligns with Google’s local search criteria and its spam and overall policies. If your website has been hit with spam penalties, some items that you can check or fix for better local search rankings include:-
The process of cloaking involves the displaying of different content to search engines than to website users. This is a form of deception that is used to mislead search engines and manipulate the website’s ranking. Remember that cloaking is in violation of Google’s policies and can lead to lower search rankings. Hence, one of the best ways of recovering from SEO penalties to ensure that your website does not utilize techniques like cloaking.
If you are looking for ways to boost your local search rankings and appear in search results, check for doorway pages and remove them. Doorways are designed to ensure that the webpage ranks for specific search queries and leads users to intermediate web pages that provide lesser value than the final destination. But, how does Google identify doorways and hit them with spam penalties? Well, Google targets websites that utilize multiple pages with slight variations that are designed to maximize reach. It also targets websites that utilize multiple domain names to redirect users to the same page and content.
- Hacked content
Unauthorized content that is placed on a site and has high-security vulnerabilities is called hacked content. These can harm user experiences and can even install malicious programs on user’s devices. Google might also determine web pages with code injection, page injection, and content injection as hacked content.
- Hidden text and links
This type of content is hard to spot for human visitors and is included to solely manipulate search engine algorithms. Some common techniques utilized to include hidden text and links include – hiding text behind images, decreasing font size and opacity, and using CSS to move text off-screen.
- Keyword stuffing
A common mistake made by a lot of marketers looking to boost their local businesses’ online presence, keyword stuffing can lead to the delivery of unnatural-sounding content to users.
- Link spam
Google utilizes links to determine a webpage’s relevance and local search rankings. Actions focused on manipulating links, including buying or selling links for engagement purposes, are considered link spam. A great local SEO optimization tip is ensuring that your website does not utilize unnatural linking practices.
- Machine-generated traffic
Utilizing bots for automated website traffic to Google or scraping results to check web page rankings interferes with the overall user experience. This leads to lowered website rankings and is also in violation of Google’s policies.
The overall impact on local SEO strategies adopted by businesses
Since the October 2023 spam update is focused on pages that utilize duplicate content, the most affected pages seem to be location pages. Location pages are a great way to boost SEO for local businesses and allow businesses to utilize repetitive content to boost their local search rankings. Since this Google algorithm update is also focused on detecting spam content in non-English languages, businesses must focus on utilizing other local SEO tips. We recommend avoiding web pages created solely to boost geographic ranking and local SEO rankings. Instead, focus on Google My Business optimization for better results and online visibility.
To summarize, Google’s October 2023 Spam update is significant and has changed the complete SEO landscape. It is advisable that you focus on reviewing your content and ensuring that it aligns with Google’s local search criteria and quality guidelines. It can be quite challenging to figure out the required changes amidst multiple overlapping Google algorithm updates. We recommend getting in touch with a renowned SEO expert to optimize your website and bring in better local search rankings.