Google’s Spam-Fighting Algorithm: Then and Now [Infographic]

Google is making changes to its algorithm that will penalize websites for “over optimization.” It’s not the first time that Google has tried to cut through the spammers and content farms to bring better content to the top of the search results. This infographic has the details.

Matt Cutts, principal engineer at Google announced some upcoming changes at a South by Southwest Interactive panel called “Dear Google & Bing: Help Me Rank Better!” Search Engine Land posted an audio clip from the panel and provided this transcript:

What about the people optimizing really hard and doing a lot of SEO. We don’t normally pre-announce changes but there is something we are working in the last few months and hope to release it in the next months or few weeks. We are trying to level the playing field a bit. All those people doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or overly SEO – versus those making great content and great site. We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect. We have several engineers on my team working on this right now.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Google’s engineers are adding “semantic search” to their algorithm, which would improve the search engine’s ability to understand the meanings of words and even entire sentences. According to the article, if you type in, “What are the 10 largest lakes in California?” Google will be able to answer the question without linking to another website. This would have an impact on sites like or, which respond directly to questions typed into the search bar.

In addition, Google has compiled a database of people, places, and things that it will be able to use to match a person’s name with the company where they work, or a geographic location with details about its climate and major attractions. It’s a likely extension of the personalized search elements introduced with Google+ and its social search tool, Google plus Your World.

Google makes an average of 500 – 600 changes to its algorithm per year, but most are too minor to report. This infographic from Martina Seefeld outlines the highlights from 1998 to January 2012.