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The SEO community has known for a while that something was happening behind the glass walls of Google, and earlier this week Search Engine Journal and Google confirmed the updates. Some websites have reported up to a 20-30 percent loss in organic search traffic thanks to the tweak.
Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Roundtable dubbed it the Maccabee’s Update, and discovered it focused on two ares: keyword permutations and low-quality websites with spammy ad practices (an extension of Google Fred).
We break it down further below:
What Is the Google Macabee Update?
The Google Maccabee update is a recent Google algorithm update. It’s somewhat of an extension of the Fred algorithm update, and it’s focused on user experience.
A couple years ago, SEOs wised up to the usefulness of long-tail keywords and answering questions. As in any field, when a new success tactic is discovered, black-hat professionals figure out how to manipulate it. Thus, creating low-quality web pages for similar long-tail keywords–keyword permutations–rose in prominence.
Keyword permutations refers to multiple phrases or long-tail keywords that essentially mean the same thing. Barry Schwartz lays it out like this:
“By far, the biggest bulk of sites that I saw got hit all had tons and tons of landing pages target massive arrays of keyword permutations. So for example, if they are a travel site, they would target all the destinations they service and also add landing pages for [destination sub name] + [activity name] and sometimes even go beyond that. If they were a service business, they would target [city name] + [service A] and then [city name] + [service B] and so on.”
What was happening was SEOs and marketing managers started to create multiple pages for each of these almost-identical keyword permutations.
Here, I’ll give you an example. Let’s say I have a plumbing company, and I want to rank for “how to plunge a toilet.” Instead of making one amazing page on plunging a toilet, I make five identical pages targeting different versions of the same long-tail keyword:
- How to plunge a toilet fast
- How to plunge clogged toilet
- How to plunge toilet
- How to unclog a toilet with a plunger
- How to use a plunger
Bad news bears.
While that may have helped you rank for both key phrases, you’re creating a confusing and often irrelevant user experience. If you want to tell people how to plunge a toilet, do it—but instead of trying to rank for keywords, why not try and write the best damn blog post out there on plunging a toilet?
Google Fred Extension
Another feature of the Maccabee update is the Google Fred extension. In a nutshell:
Google Fred was a Google update that targeted black-hat tactics tied to aggressive monetization on websites. “Aggressive monetization” referred to an overload of ads, low-value content, and few user benefits. The majority of the websites affected had one (or more) of the following:
- An extremely large presence of ads
- Content (usually in blog form) on all sorts of topics created for ranking purposes
- Content has ads or affiliate links spread throughout, and the quality of content is far below industry-specific sites
- Deceptive ads (looks like a download or play button to trick someone into clicking)
- Thin content
- UX barriers
- Mobile problems
- Aggressive affiliate setups
- Aggressive monetization
Was I Affected By the Maccabee Algorithm Change?
If you were affected you would have noticed a drop in organic search traffic, specifically a drop in search traffic from Google. If you are guilty of any of the tactics above, there’s a good chance you were.
About The Author: Betsy is the social media lead and a digital marketing expert with Blue Corona. When she’s not managing Blue Corona's digital content campaigns she’s urban exploring, hiking with her dog, or teaching horseback riding lessons. Twitter: @educatedbets
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