Google has confirmed that the December 2022 link spam update is now finished rolling out. The update took 29 days to roll out, starting on December 14, 2022 and ending on January 12, 2023. Google has posted it was completed today, January 12.
What is a link spam update. A link spam update looks to neutralize, or no longer count, links that Google finds to be spammy and against Google’s guidelines. Google wrote that this launch “may change as spammy links are neutralized and any credit passed by these unnatural links are lost. This launch will affect all languages.”
First time using SpamBrain for links. This is leveraging what Google calls SpamBrain, Google referenced it in the 2018 Google spam report, specifically the spam trends section where Google talks about its “machine learning systems” to improve search spam detection.
Google added that SpamBrain can not only “detect spam directly, it can now detect both sites buying links, and sites used for the purpose of passing outgoing links.”
Nullifying link spam. Google used the word “neutralize” links, and in the previous link spam update Google used the word Google used here was “nullifying,” which does not necessarily mean “penalize,” but instead, to ignore or simply not count. Google’s efforts around link spam have been to ignore and not count spammy links since Penguin 4.0 was released in 2016.
Why we care. If you saw ranking declines in Google over this rollout period, it might be related to this new link spam update. Ensure your links are natural and follow Google’s webmaster guidelines. Work on improving your site to naturally attract new links over time.
As Google wrote with previous link spam updates, “Site owners should ensure that they follow the best practices on links, both incoming and outgoing. Focusing on producing high quality content and improving user experience always wins out compared to manipulating links. Promote awareness of your site using appropriately tagged links, and monetize it with properly tagged affiliate links.”
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About the author
Barry Schwartz a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry can be followed on Twitter here.