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Google’s Spambrain: Marten Lazarus, Head of SEO at 72Point shares why quality link building is more important than ever


You might remember Google’s announcement back in December 2022, an update to its ever-evolving link spam efforts called “Spambrain”, Google's spam-detection algorithm, designed to find and remove low-quality websites from the search results.

When I fell into SEO over 16 years ago, the techniques we were using to improve our clients’ websites would not even be considered today as it would be both a waste of time and incredibly risky for all parties involved! Google has come a long way in developing its systems and algorithms to, in my mind, try to replace as much of the human review required when determining what is constituted as “spam”.

If you look at what is considered spam today from old backlinks, it is obvious that these pages are not built for humans to read, but purely for links. I still occasionally see examples of this, but nowadays it is far more carefully done.  If you look at a bunch of the links pointing to your site and think “I would never read this page” then you might be sitting on a timebomb waiting for Google to bring the match to light the fuse.

As someone who worked in SEO before the Panda (low quality content penalty) and Penguin(low quality backlinks) updates, and can even remember the Caffeine update in 2010, it has (at least in my mind) always been a balancing act when it comes to link building. Something that might provide quick results and shoot your rankings up on Google does often sound very appealing. As the classic saying goes “if it sounds too good to be true”... and you know the rest! 

Those that have more of a medium to long term view will already have realised that along with traditional marketing practices, SEO is an ever-evolving practice in which one builds an amazing website upon a strong set of technical principles and foundations.

For PR and SEO, it’s the best ideas executed in the best ways that bring top-class results – something that is true for both disciplines. It is also true that you remember a failed campaign, rather than the great early work that went into it.

When I train or educate people on SEO, it starts with how you think about your business, clients, and current and potential customers.  I then branch out into understanding what search engines are built to achieve – the highest possible quality of results based on what the searcher wants.  We must first broadly understand the criteria that search engines are using to best match these searches before we can then understand how to adjust things on our websites.

With increasing developments in AI and machine learning, it is a matter of when, not if search engines will be fullyrun by machines. A scary thought? –  perhaps this article you’re reading was entirely written by one.