Google's Helpful Content & Link Spam Updates Done Rolling Out On January 12th

Jan 13, 2023 • 7:51 am | comments (117) by | Filed Under Google Search Algorithm Updates
 

Google algorithm notebook

After a long slow, and paused rollout, Google has said that both the December 2022 helpful content update and December 2022 link spam update are now both done rolling out. Google said both completed rolling out on Thursday, January 12, 2023.

The December 2022 helpful content update started on December 5, 2022, and was completed rolling out about 38 days afterward.

While the December 2022 link spam update started on December 14, 2022, and was completed 29 days later.

Both these updates should have been done rolling out after 14 days, so it took a lot longer.

The two updates were delayed in its finish date because they ran into the holidays. Google said there was a security issue with completing them on the holidays, so they took a pause. We saw movement from these updates around December 18th and 19th and then some big turbulence days before Christmas, and then things calmed down a lot. We then also saw some fluctuations on December 26th, again on January 3rd to 5th, and then again on January 10th and 11th.

December 2022 Google Helpful Content Update Quick Facts

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

  • Name: Google helpful content update
  • Launch Date: It began to rollout on December 5th but not so noticeable until December 6th
  • Completion Date: January 12, 2023, 38 days later
  • Rollout: It will take about two weeks to fully roll out (it took much longer)
  • Targets: It looks at content that was created to rank well in search over help humans
  • Search Only: This currently only impacts Google Search, not Google Discover or other Google surfaces. But Google may expand this to Discover and more in the future.
  • Penalty: Google did not mention penalty but this update does seem to feel like a penalty for sites that will be hit by it
  • Sitewide: This is a sitewide algorithm, so the whole site will be impacted by this update
  • Not a core update: Many are going to say this is a core update, it is not.
  • Global and all languages: This is no longer just for English-language content, it is now all languages and global.
  • Impact: Google would not tell me what percentage of queries or searches were impacted by this update but Google did tell me it would be "meaningful." Also, Google said this will be felt more for online-educational materials, entertainment, shopping, and tech-related content.
  • Recover: If you were hit by this, then you will need to look at your content and see if you can do better with Google's advice below
  • Refreshes: Google updates the scores constantly here but there is a timeout period, and a validation period and it can take several months to recover from this update.

December 2022 Google Link Spam Update Quick Facts

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

  • Name: Google December 2022 Link Spam Update
  • Launch Date: It began to roll out on December 14th
  • Completion Date: January 12, 2023, 29 days later
  • Rollout: It will take about two weeks to fully roll out (it took much longer)
  • Targets: It targets both sites buying links, and sites used for the purpose of passing outgoing links.
  • Penalty: This will "neutralize" links that it detects as being spam and thus links that are detected won't be counted and may show a decline in rankings.
  • Not a manual action: This is not a manual action, so you won't be notified in Search Console if you are hit.
  • Global and all languages: This is a global launch and affects all languages.
  • SpamBrain: This is the first time Google is using its AI-based spam detection, i.e., SpamBrain, for link spam purposes.

Here is that infographic I made showing the 2022 Google updates and now when they are all completed:

2022 Google algorithm updates graphic - click for full size

So let's stick a fork in it - or maybe two forks?

Forum discussion at Twitter.

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