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New Google Search reputation abuse policy starts soon


Google’s new Search spam policy around reputation abuse – or what SEOs have referred to as “parasite SEO” – will take effect “after May 5,” according to Google. May 5 is this Sunday.

We knew this was coming. Google told us this change was coming in March, when Google announced multiple search enhancements, which also included the March 2024 core update (which completed April 19) and spam updates (which completed March 20).

Google’s reminder. Google Search Central posted on X:

What is site reputation abuse? When third-party sites host low-quality content provided by third parties to piggyback on the ranking power of those third-party websites. As Google told us in March:

  • “A third party might publish payday loan reviews on a trusted educational website to gain ranking benefit from the site.”
  • “Such content ranking highly in Search can confuse or mislead visitors who may have vastly different expectations for the content on a given website.”

Under Google’s new policy, site reputation abuse is defined as “third-party content produced primarily for ranking purposes and without close oversight of a website owner” and “intended to manipulate Search rankings” will be considered spam.

But. Not all third-party content will be considered spam, as Google explained:

  • “Many publications host advertising content that is intended for their regular readers, rather than to primarily manipulate Search rankings. Sometimes called ‘native advertising’ or ‘advertorial,’ this kind of content typically wouldn’t confuse regular readers of the publication when they find it on the publisher’s site directly or when arriving at it from Google’s search results.”

Google said in March that it would start to take both automated and manual actions on this abuse starting May 5. Now that time is just a few days away.

Why we care. Many SEO have been complaining about the harm and unfairness that comes from parasite SEO. With so many complaints about the quality of Search results lately, we’ll see whether this helps deal with the problem.

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About the author

Danny Goodwin

Danny Goodwin has been Managing Editor of Search Engine Land & Search Marketing Expo – SMX since 2022. He joined Search Engine Land in 2022 as Senior Editor. In addition to reporting on the latest search marketing news, he manages Search Engine Land’s SME (Subject Matter Expert) program. He also helps program U.S. SMX events.

Goodwin has been editing and writing about the latest developments and trends in search and digital marketing since 2007. He previously was Executive Editor of Search Engine Journal (from 2017 to 2022), managing editor of Momentology (from 2014-2016) and editor of Search Engine Watch (from 2007 to 2014). He has spoken at many major search conferences and virtual events, and has been sourced for his expertise by a wide range of publications and podcasts.


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