Google Set To Change Ranking Algorithm

Google is set to make changes to its search ranking algorithm to combat the spate of links leading to malicious web pages appearing at the top of Google’s search results, according to an inside source.
Malicious Links
Over the past few months, cybercriminals have been using blackhat SEO techniques to manipulate search rankings. When it first began, they were marginally successful at following Google Trends to find buzzy search queries and elevating a newly created targeted webpage.

But after a short period of time, these same gangs appear to have become disturbingly effective. Last week, when researching a news story, I found the top five results all led to fake scareware pages.

Obviously if Google fails to do something about this manipulation, users will lose trust and the good ole days of Google will be over fast. A Googler speaking on condition of anonymity told WebProNews a ranking change is pending that tackles spam of this kind. Once the change goes live, users shouldn’t see it “nearly as often.”

A report from security company PandaLabs identified over a million links targeting malicious webpages ranking for auto part searches. Google noted that many of the phrases mentioned in the report were rare. A phrase like [1989 Nissan Pickup Truck Engine Check Light Troubleshooting], for example, only appears on attack sites set up by spammers, which explains why Google brought back so many attack sites in response to it and similar queries.

Google’s response seems also an admission of how difficult it is to provide fresh, timely search results while simultaneously combating spammers. Part of the appeal of Twitter to many people is the platform’s ability to provide real-time information; the live Web works remarkably well there so far because Twitter’s set up isn’t very conducive to spam (yet). At least Twitter has to some extent control over accounts.

Google, on the other hand, cannot control for content appearing on the Web at large, and historically its famous algorithm performed better than any other at weeding out spammy webpages and malicious results. Unfortunately, that was a version of the Web that was more static. The live Web presents entirely new challenges manifesting as the first major weakness the search engine has faced.

The company naturally didn’t have a comment on the recently pondered “link velocity” ranking factor. Search engine optimization experts have identified the speed at which organic links appear as a possible important influence.

Link velocity therefore aids in explaining how blackhatters were able to manipulate search results by dropping enormous amounts of link spam into comment and discussion areas of social sites. The freshness or buzzy nature of a query also aided in this pursuit, and cybercriminals merely have to follow Google Trends and Google News to know which keywords and phrases to target.

Advertisements