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Google's latest Penguin update lets you squeal on spammy websites -- as well as anyone else

The latest version of Google's sophisticated anti-spam algorithm, dubbed Penguin 2.0, was announced yesterday in an official blog post from the company's well-known webspam czar, Mike Cutts.

The 2.0 label was applied, according to Cutts, because the update is a major one -- it includes changes to the underlying algorithms used to evaluate whether a website is spammy or not, not just the dataset Google uses. About 2.3% of queries in U.S. English will be visibly affected by the changes.

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Cutts also posted a link to a webspam report page, where anyone can flag sites they consider spam for the attentions of Google's engineers. The form doesn't ask for any identification by the reporting party, requiring only a copy/pasted URL.

While this appears to present a golden opportunity for abuse -- as severalTwitterresponses to the announcement noted -- Cutts noted on Twitter that Google has always had an extensive array of options in place to report spammy sites, and that "we'll listen to feedback and look for ways to improve results."

Search Engine Land Editor Barry Schwartz wrote that this is actually the fourth major generation of Google's current anti-spam algorithm. However, its effects have been wider-ranging than all but the initial release of Penguin, which reached 3.1% of queries.

Cutts didn't discuss the algorithm changes in detail, so as not to provide too much information to black hat search engine optimization practitioners, but laid out some broad goals that Google is working toward in a video released earlier this month.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.


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