December 2022 Google Updates

Jon Robinson (00:02):
Hi everyone. Jon Robinson here, SVP of Digital Media at Consumer Attorney Marketing Group. We are going to talk about what is going on in Google Search over the past two weeks. Today’s December 16th, 2022, and starting on December 5th, we have seen a flurry of news come out of Google’s headquarters.

The first thing was on December 5th, they announced an update to the helpful content classifier. So originally announced a few months ago, we thought that the helpful content update was going to be this huge change in the search results because of the way that Google talked about this update, really focusing on how helpful content will finally be valued as much as they have talked about it being valued. And it wound up being a bust. We didn’t see that much of a change. It really wasn’t as impactful as everybody thought it would be. So that’s sort of kicked things off.

December 5th, they said, Hey, we’re releasing an update to this helpful content update. Okay. We really haven’t seen much happen from that so far. It’s going to take two weeks to roll out. Google has a history of releasing updates during holidays. Really didn’t surprise us that much. Well, here we are, December 16th and two days ago on December 14th, Google announced the December, 2022 link spam update. Now this sounds very similar to the tone that they took with the helpful content update. Therefore, SEOs all across the world are saying that this will finally be potentially have the impact that Google has been talking about for over a decade with regards to manipulating back links.

So there’s some specific things that they call out here. The first is they’re going to be penalizing people who both sell links and buy links. They’re able to use what they call spam brain, which has artificial intelligence to detect sites that are selling links and sites that are buying links. Also, this is not a manual penalty, so because it is algorithmic, you will not get any sort of notification that you’ve been affected by this link spam update. And this is running in parallel to that helpful content update that we just spoke about.

So we don’t know what’s going to happen here over the course of this two weeks. Google has said that you will start to see the impact as unnatural links are neutralized by this update. But we don’t know what the impact is going to be yet. We are really, really hopeful here at CAMG that finally Google has put something in place that neutralizes the effect of purchase links. This has been running rampant across the personal injury and mass tort legal space for well over a decade. You see law firms come in, get sold snake oil by an SEO agency who then goes out and purchases a bunch of links, points those links at their website. They may see a little boost, it may drop. Sometimes we see that it actually is effective, but really is not something that Google says you should be doing.

Well, here is finally an update that they’re releasing that is specifically targeting that activity. If you are buying links, if you have a back link profile that maybe from a prior agency has a bunch of purchase links, you are going to see the effect of those links effectively wiped out if this actually does what Google says it’s going to do.

I do want to touch on what the right way to actually acquire back links is. And when we talk about back links, for those of you that don’t know, these are when you get one site that is not yours to link to your site. So you create really great content, and then other sites link to it as a reference. Those links sort of act as votes in Google’s eyes to say, Hey, this site A trusts site B, enough to link to it as a reference. So what you really want to do is constantly be acquiring back links to your site, sort of votes to help Google determine that your site should be ranking higher.

I’m going to pull this up here. This is something that those of you who are clients of CAMG have probably seen when we first met. One of the big differentiators that we talk about here at CAMG is the fact that we do not cut corners when it comes to link building. We do not do any guest posts. Google has said repeatedly, guest posts for back links to manipulate search rankings are against their guidelines. We do not purchase any links at all. There are networks of companies out there that own networks of websites and blogs, or will facilitate the purchasing of links on other websites. Again, directly against Google guidelines.

Link wheels where you have one site linking to another site, linking to another site, and then that site links back to try and manipulate search rankings. Not something that we would ever recommend doing. Any type of link scheme, like scholarship link building, we see a lot of law firms that kind of got duped into this practice around four or five years ago where SEO agencies said, Hey, create a scholarship. Give away a thousand bucks, and we’re going to use that to reach out to all these universities and high schools and try and get them to link back to that scholarship. That is a link scheme. No blog networks and obviously outsourcing link building to a third party team, not something that we would ever recommend because you have no control over what’s happening.

The right way to actually build links. Treat it like PR. We call link building digital PR here, where we create really, really great content. We put it on your site, we support it with design elements, and then we have a team of people who just reach out to other websites to share those resources that are now on your site. It is completely up to the other website as to whether or not they want a link. It is very resource intensive. It is difficult, but this is what actually works in terms of generating quality back links to your website.

So that is the link update, the December 22 link spam update. Now they announced something else yesterday, so you have probably heard of E-A-T or Eat. Well, yesterday on December 15th, Google announced what they’re calling double E-A-T. They have now added an additional word to E-A-T. So expertise, authority, and trust was the prior E-A-T. Now they are adding on experience and they’ve sort of said that it exists in an overlapping Venn diagram with expertise, authority, and experience. And in the center of that is trust.

So in addition to this post that they put out about double E-A-T, they also updated their search rater guidelines. This has been one of the most significant updates to the search rater guidelines that we have seen, and these guidelines are given to the people who are responsible for reviewing search results and feeding the machine learning algorithm that then determines how pages should rank.

Some of the things that are in here now require the search raters to evaluate the experience of the people who are contributing content to your website. It is extremely important that you don’t just acquire content that is written for search purposes and only search purposes. The content on your website needs to be of high quality, needs to serve a purpose, needs to fill a gap on the internet that other sites don’t fill, and needs to showcase your expertise, authority, trust, and experience.

Being as how it’s only been a day since this has been released, we’re not really seeing any impact yet. However, this overlapping with the link spam update, overlapping with a helpful content update, means that we expect to see significant tremors and shake up in the search results as we head into the holidays about a week away.

So thank you for watching. I hope that this eight minutes caught you up on everything that’s been going on in Google Search in the past couple of weeks, extremely impactful updates that are going on right now and should be completed rolling out right at the end of the year. Good luck to you, and if you have any questions, please always feel free to reach out to me at CAMG if you want to talk about what’s going on with your site and your SEO rankings or anything else. Thanks again.

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