Andy Atkins-Krüger posted an awesome news story at Search Engine Land covering how Yandex is changing their algorithm for some types of queries to no longer count links as a ranking factor.
Yandex is the leading Russian search engine, way bigger than Google in Russia. They announced last week that they will no longer use links in their ranking algorithms specifically for commercial queries in its Moscow region. This accounts for about 10% of the queries Yandex sees, which is a lot.
Alexander Sadovsky, who is the Head of Web Search at Yandex, told Andy:
There is a lot of noise around the links signal particularly for commercial queries and especially in Russia. We see a lot of paid links and even automated paid links where there is no human actually involved. The problem with these links is they’re frequently off-topic and are effectively cheating users.
Alexander added that "there is a bigger problem of spam links in Russia than elsewhere because Russia has a lot of programmers who have been turning link building into a new profession."
The truth is, there are tons of link networks in Russia that spam and manipulate Google, as well as other engines. In fact, Google publicly went after two well known ones including Ghost Rank and SAPE Links. Heck, even this morning we covered another link network Google went after.
It seems like while Google actively goes after the link spam, Yandex is simply going to remove links as part of the algorithm for the query types that get spammed the most? It feels like when search engines stopped using the meta keywords tag but a heck of a lot more shocking.
The question is, how long can Google keep manually breaking into link networks and then reverse engineering them. Are they fighting a battle they can get ahead of or will they have to take Yandex's approach and remove links from the algorithm for certain query classes?
I did ask Google to comment on this and they declined.
Forum discussion at Google+.