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Google Releases October 2023 Spam Update Targeting More Languages

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Google Space Invaders October Spam Update

Google has released a new spam update, the October 2023 spam update. This update goes after cloaking, hacked, auto-generated, and scraped spam. But those sites written in Turkish, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Hindi, Chinese, and other languages should see this more than maybe those in English languages.

This update will take a few weeks to roll out. It started yesterday, October 4th at 12:52 pm ET, as per the search status dashboard.

Below I will dive into what this update does, who it targets and what we’re seeing so far from this update (potentially). One note, this announcement was made by Duy Nguyen, a Google Search Quality Analyst.

October 2023 Google Spam Update Quick Facts

Here are the most important things that we know right now in short form:

  • Name: Google October 2023 Spam Update
  • Launched: October 4, 2023 at around 12:50 pm ET
  • Rollout: It will take a few weeks to fully roll out
  • Targets: It goes after cloaking, hacked, auto-generated, and scraped spam more so in Turkish, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Hindi, Chinese, and other languages.
  • Penalty: It penalizes spam techniques that are against Google’s spam policies.
  • Global: This is a global update impacting all regions and languages.
  • Impact: Google would not tell me what percentage of queries or searches were impacted by this update.
  • Recover: If you were hit by this, Google said you should review its spam policies to ensure they are complying with those.
  • Refreshes: Google will do periodic refreshes to the spam update. It can take many months to recover, Google said.

Spam Update Targets:

Google said this October 2023 spam update “applies globally and improves our coverage in many languages, including Turkish, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Hindi, Chinese, and other languages.”

This does impact English, Google’s Search Liaison confirmed:

This went after these types of spam:

  • Cloaking: Cloaking refers to the practice of presenting different content to users and search engines with the intent to manipulate search rankings and mislead users.
  • Hacked content: Hacked content is any content placed on a site without permission, due to vulnerabilities in a site’s security. Hacked content gives poor search results to our users and can potentially install malicious content on their machines.
  • Auto-generated content: Spammy automatically generated (or “auto-generated”) content is content that’s been generated programmatically without producing anything original or adding sufficient value; instead, it’s been generated for the primary purpose of manipulating search rankings and not helping users.
  • Scraped content spam: Some site owners base their sites around content taken (“scraped”) from other, often more reputable sites. Scraped content, even from high quality sources, without additional useful services or content provided by your site may not provide added value to users. It may also constitute copyright infringement. A site may also be demoted if a significant number of valid legal removal requests have been received.

Seeing Impact Yet?

It is hard to say if we are seeing the impact yet. We have been having a lot of chatter since the unconfirmed October 1st update – in fact, the chatter got a lot more heated yesterday and today. So this unconfirmed update may or may not be related to this.

I’ll share the chatter and Google tracking tools as well.

SEO Chatter:

Here is some of the recent chatter from comments from here and WebmasterWorld. Keep in mind, it might be too early to be related to this specific update:

HULK SMASH!

Yes. I too have felt the drop. Quite a big one this time around. It was steady these past few days despite the negligence. But nope Hulk arrived today and smashed the traffic to bits.

Automatic websites with AI are having a great boom after the update.

Yes, huge drop today. No reason for it.

Yes, the drop happened yesterday on 12:00 PDT. This is just latest drop after a series of drops since mid September.

Today the drop will be big. Has anyone else noticed extreme low traffic?

Here the decline continues. One day worse than the other…

My traffic drop again. I don’t know the reason. All sites except forum and brand sites have a decline of position in serp.

Insane amount of foreign spam in U.S. Google results since recent HCU update. See screenshot. Surely Google has gotta being seeing this and hopefully has a plan to tackle it. It’s showing up for so many different search terms.

There’s definitely been some more shuffling. Not sure whether it’s another small update or just something baked into the algorithm, but I’ve seen a few changes — pos. #3, #4, #5 leaping to top spot last 24 hours.

Also seeing strong but only tangibly related pages being shoe-horned into top spot for some larger queries. These sites are niche relevant unlike parasites, but don’t seem to be the best fit for the query. Of course, we know why that might be, don’t we?

The results are still full of spam, it hasn’t kicked in. Actually I have never seen so much spam as I’m seeing right now, something is wrong I mean massively wrong. Perhaps the Hcu broke something and if they don’t fix it, it will be their demise. I’m already noticing double traffic coming from bing already since the Hcu dropped

The traffic on my website today is such that it hurts to see, it feels like now we might have to shut down the websites, and the server payment is also not being made anymore.

After the first day, I did noticed a small boost in rankings – probably because the spam sites will removed and everyone’s rankings went up in the search results.

But there’s something don’t make sense. Conversion rates crashed like others said. That doesn’t make a single sense.

After the ridiculous update, what I see currently in SERPs of my niche are 4 ads on top, plus 1 Google product, then 3 organic results, two of which are brands who already buy ads from Google (so they are already on top). Then it is my site, and other organic results. Mine and the organic result above me are the ones that are really helpful.

Again, some of these comments may not be related to this update specifically and related to something else that started on October 1st but it is impossible for me to know for sure.

Google Tracking Tools:

Here is what the Google tracking tools are showing now; keep in mind that many tools have not been fully updated, and this is a three-week rollout. Plus, generally, spam updates should not show major fluctuations in these tools, especially since this seems to target languages outside of English in a bigger way.

Semrush:

click for full size

SERPmetrics:

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Advanced Web Rankings:

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Accuranker:

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Mozcast:

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Cognitive SEO:

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Algoroo:

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RankRanger:

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SERPstat:

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Wincher:

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SERPwoo:

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Previous Spam Updates:

Here is a list of the previous spam updates:

What are you all seeing?

Forum discussion at X, Black Hat World and WebmasterWorld.



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Daily Search Forum Recap: July 17, 2024

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Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web.


Google has finally ended its labs experiment for Search Notes. Google Knowledge Panels tests showing store rating reviews. Google tests renaming short videos to quick takes. Google Ads in Japan changed the term brand match to intent match. Google is testing query refinements under the ad carousel.


Search Engine Roundtable Stories:


  • Google Search Notes Finally To End


    There was a lot of speculation that Google would remove the Search Notes feature from the Google Search labs results last May after living past its official end date of December 2023. Well, Google told 9to5Google that Notes on Search and Discover is finally going away.

  • Google Ads Changed Broad Match To Intent Match In Japan


    Google Ads has changed what they call broad match to intent match in Japan. So now it is called (Intent Match), it was called (Partial Match).

  • Google Knowledge Panels Tests Store Ratings Reviews


    Google is testing showing store ratings review stars in the knowledge panels for some retail stores. Clicking on the stars will take you into the Google Store Rating panel.

  • Google Tests Renaming Short Videos To Quick Takes


    Google is testing renaming the short videos carousel to quick takes in the Google Search results. Short videos are quick videos Google surfaces in its search results from YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and other sources and now Google is testing naming them “Quick Takes.”

  • Google Ads Query Refinements Under Ad Carousel


    Google seems to be testing a query refinement ad option. Where Google is showing other search queries related to the ads it is showing under a sponsored ad carousel in the search results.



  • Google Paris France Olympics Signage Adapted


    In April, we covered the prep the Google Paris, France office put together for the upcoming Olympics events by dressing up its lobby signage in Olympic sports. Well, the sign changed a bit. Here is a more recent photo I found on Instagram.

Other Great Search Threads:

Search Engine Land Stories:

Other Great Search Stories:

Analytics

Industry & Business

Links & Content Marketing

Local & Maps

Mobile & Voice

SEO

PPC

Other Search

Feedback:


Have feedback on this daily recap; let me know on Twitter @rustybrick or @seroundtable, on Threads, Mastodon and Bluesky and you can follow us on Facebook and on Google News and make sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or just contact us the old fashion way.



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Google Core Update Expected In Coming Weeks

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Google Core Fire Balls

Danny Sullivan, the Google Search Liaison, said that he expects the next core update will be rolling out in the coming weeks. He said it is hard to predict because these updates are not scheduled to a particular day but rather tested and then once approved are launched.

Sullivan said this on a comment on this site, over here, he wrote, “I would expect we’ll see one in the coming weeks, because that fits in with our general cycle.” “But precisely when, that’s just not known yet,” he added.

In fact, he added that these updates are simple not scheduled, he said, “the ranking team makes changes, tests those, evaluates those and eventually we get a launch date.” But that, I guess, has not happened yet and thus we don’t have a date yet. When it is ready, I assume Google will roll it out and let us know and that seems to happen pretty quickly after the testing and evaluations are all approved.

He wrote:

We’d tell you when the next core update will be if we knew. But we don’t know exactly yet, that’s all. These aren’t scheduled to a particular day. The ranking team makes changes, tests those, evaluates those and eventually we get a launch date. There have been many times I could have said “Core update next week!” because everything was on track for that to happen, but then there’s a need to do a bit more work or other things that might cause a pushback. I would expect we’ll see one in the coming weeks, because that fits in with our general cycle. But precisely when, that’s just not known yet.

As to seeing changes? Well, Sullivan did also say in the comments, “I do hope we can improve in some of these cases where creators with their hearts in the right places, and who are doing the real content effort behind that, are rewarded as we should be doing.” This echoes a lot of what Google said before.

He also added something I did not know, that he interviewed folks at HouseFresh and RetroDodo in front of about 50 Google Search Quality team members, so the Google team “could hear first-hand directly some of the things that they’ve had relayed from me, John or which they’ve read about,” he wrote. “It was incredibly useful, impactful, and I’m deeply grateful for both of those for agreeing to do it,” he added.

So maybe we will have a July 2024 core update or maybe it will be an August 2024 core update – or maybe later. It all depends on how the testing and evaluations go… For all we know, that might happen later today, so buckle up.

Forum discussion at us and X.

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How To Remove Thumbtack Book Links In Google Business Profiles

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Google Appointment Book

There are new reports that a booking/appointment system run by Thumbtack, a local search service, is automatically adding its booking links and service to Google Business Profiles. Well, you can opt out, if you don’t want it. But I am sure most businesses will have no clue this was added to their local listings in Google Search and Google Maps.

To opt out, you need to fill out this form. This is from the Thumbtack help page – so check there if the form no longer works, maybe there will be an updated link.

The book now button looks like this:

Google Business Profile Book Button

As reported to me by Colan Nielsen on X and posted in the Local Search Forum, this business does not want the book link to go to Thumbtack, but it does – at least when I wrote this.

Colan wrote, “Looks like Thumbtack is automatically adding booking links to Google Business Profiles.”

We saw this happen a lot over the years, we even called it hijacking appointment links in Google – including with Postmates.

The Thumbtack help document says, “we’ve automatically added a Thumbtack booking option through your Google Business Profile. No further action is needed from you.” So this is not an opt in thing, rather an opt out thing – which is not good.

So please be aware of this and be on the look out for changes to your booking link.

Forum discussion at Local Search Forum.

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