In December 2017, the latest update to the core algorithm of Google was launched, and it was named the Maccabees update.
Actually, it was a part of the Fred update, as Google had announced in 2016 that every update, they will be introducing will be called the Fred update.
But since it was Hanukkah, Barry Schwartz decided to name this update as Maccabees. Let us know more about this update now.
What Does An Update In the Core Algorithm Mean?
Maccabees update was a part of the change in the core algorithm of Google. When we say the core algorithm, it implies a few things.
So, before we tell you more about the Maccabees update, it is important to understand what an update in the core algorithm means. An update in the core algorithm can either mean:
i) The algorithm that determines results in the search engine ranking page has been updated.
ii) When there is a re-ranking of different sites on the search engine page, a lot of websites that depend only on a simple kind of link might be in danger, if that links stops holding any kind of value anymore.
iii) It might also mean that there has been a change in the algorithm that determines how page content is scored.
All these imply that there has been an update in the core algorithm of Google. Now let us discuss what the Maccabees update is about.
What is Google Maccabees Update?
The Maccabees update is all about Google’s attempts to improve the search relevance on its search engine page.
It is basically an extension of the previously launched Fred update. This update is targeted at making the user experience better. It still targets and strengthens Google’s ideologies about quality content winning over everything.
The Maccabees update has targeted the affiliate sites the most. A few years ago SEO experts had discovered that long tail keywords and answering the question and answering questions go a long way in improving a website’s rankings. So they had started using this tactic more often.
Simultaneously, even black hat SEO-ers came up with a way to manipulate it. As a result, this gave rise to a lot of low-quality content pages that had similar combinations of the same long tail keywords that high-quality sites also used. This was hampering the user experience.
Google’s Maccabees update did not harm the normal e-commerce sites in general, but some still complained of significantly low traffic since the update had been launched.
Google Maccabees Update: What Business Owners Should Know
By now, business owners know that there is no getting away with black hat SEO techniques. Google is constantly updating its algorithms to spot low-quality websites and the ones using black hat SEO techniques and pushing them downwards to enhance user experience.
What the Maccabees update did was, it targeted certain kinds of websites. The impact of this update was not as huge as Penguin or Panda update, but some websites felt the brunt of it.
This algorithm update affected a few particular kinds of sites, like e-commerce websites, travel portals, individual blogs, and all affiliate sites.
With the Maccabees update, Google aimed at all the websites that had too much of long tail keywords permutations and combinations on their web pages.
What a lot of websites did was that they created lots of landing pages with similar search keywords. In these different landing pages, they had just tweaked a few words here and there, and the content had nothing new to offer.
Google targeted these kinds of websites and pushed down their rankings. As a result, their traffic went down too.
Websites that had very short content but lots of ads on their web pages were also affected by the Maccabees update.
One interesting thing that happened was that after this update, the traffic to official websites of celebrities also saw a downfall. Instead, the traffic to larger websites like Wikipedia, IMDb, Twitter, Instagram, etc. saw a significant rise.
What Things Did The Maccabees Update Change?
We have already explained above what the impacts of a change in the core algorithm of Google are. The effects of the Maccabees update were very similar.
It changed the way a web page is judged to have relevant content according to search engine keywords queries.
It also shows how page ranking is affected by the kinds of links a website uses.
Thirdly, it also changed how the types of content of websites help them score.
Theories And Analyses About Maccabees Update:
The Maccabees update was a silent update by Google in its core algorithms initially before Google confirmed that they had launched an update. But Google never reveals what all its targeting with its new updates or what kind of sites is going to be affected.
Since there is no official confirmation, several SEO experts have built different theories and analyses about the latest update. Let us have a look at them.
1. Excess keyword permutation and combination:
The most common theory about the Maccabees update remains that websites that used too many long tail keyword permutation and combination have been affected the most. Travel websites were one of the most affected ones.
Travel websites try to create different landing pages for each of their services or destinations using different permutations of similar keywords.
For example, they might create permutations like,
- Destination + Cheap air tickets
- Destination + Budget hotels
- Cheap air tickets + things to do in the destination
- Destination + paragliding options etc.
The result in the landing pages are all of the same websites, but nothing new to offer in terms of content.
2. Too many ads on a page:
This is actually an extension of the Google Fred update. The Fred update targeted websites with thin content and too many ads on a page that would hamper the user experience.
E-commerce websites that used affiliate marketing techniques were highly affected after the Maccabees update. Some e-commerce websites which used lots of ads and affiliate keywords to rank previously were brought down by Google in its search engine results page.
SEO experts did researches extensively to find out what other websites had been affected by this update. They found that a majority of sites that were Amazon affiliates were affected. But a lot of non-Amazon affiliate sites were affected too.
3. Websites that used scholarships to build .edu links:
This is another kind of affiliate marketing, that nobody talked about after the Maccabees update was launched.
But marketing expert Matt Diggity came up with this theory of .edu links. When he did his research, he found that out of all the websites that had been affected by the Maccabees update, more than 40% of them had used .edu links.
This is all about websites that use backlinks from .edu websites that post about scholarships. What they do is when a scholarship programme is launched, websites post about this scholarship with clickbait .edu links to look for and target education partners and sponsors.
It normally looks like these sites are promoting or offering scholarships for students, but it is their way to generate revenue by investing in authoritative links on a .edu site.
4. Websites that were not mobile friendly:
It is a known fact that in order to survive in the web world, websites need to have a responsive design. That means the website should load equally fast on mobiles, desktops or laptops.
Since people have shifted to browse data from their mobile phones, websites to have to be mobile responsive if they want to stay strong in the game. It was noticed that after the Maccabees update, a lot of websites that were not mobile friendly lost traffic.
5. Sites having weak content:
This is again an extension of the Fred update. After research, it was seen that most of the websites which were affected by the Maccabees update had one thing in common, that is, content cannibalization.
This means that these websites contained more than one article or page about the same keyword or same topic, with just a few modifications here and there.
As a result, these extra pages were getting no extra traffic and the user experience was also getting hampered.
How To Recover From The Google Maccabees Update Penalty?
By now you know what all sites and the different kinds of websites have been affected by the Maccabees update.
If your site too is affected by this update, here’s what you have to do to get rid of the penalty.
Stop excessive stuffing of keywords and avoid too many landing pages:
If your website has been penalized by the Maccabees update, there are chances that your website has many landing pages for the same set of keywords.
In such cases, try condensing the landing pages after you have been hit by the penalty.
The other reason for your website being penalized might be the excessive stuffing of keywords, that too with similar ones. The ideal thing your SEO team can do is that instead of searching for a huge number of long tail keywords, focus on finding the best two or three keywords that work the most.
Then build your entire content around these couple of keywords, with not more than one landing page for one set of keywords. This is how you can slowly recover from the penalty.
Avoid too much of ads on your web pages:
This was mainly an aspect of the Google Fred update. But by now you know that the Maccabees update is an extension of the Fred update itself.
If you thought that using too many ads on your web pages would get you higher revenue, you were wrong.
One of the reasons your website might have been hit by the Maccabees update is because your website was overstuffed with ads.
So it goes without saying that the one way to recover from this update is to evenly distribute the ads and properly place them on your web pages so that it does not hinder when a user is browsing through your page.
Try not to do anything drastic immediately:
It is very common that once a website is hit by any of Google’s algorithm updates and loses traffic, the owners start panicking and take drastic steps that might do them more harm in the long run.
If your website has been hit by an algorithm update, not just necessarily the Maccabees update, it means that there are several other websites too that have been affected.
So the ideal step would be to wait. Wait and observe what others are doing to revive their websites after an algorithm update. Edit and audit your website accordingly, taking each baby step at a time.
Google never talks about its updates in detail, as we have already mentioned before. It never says what all aspects it targeted in its updates.
So, you have to sit back and watch the other affected websites and then figure out the common things that your website had with them. Once you figure that out, you can start working on where you lacked.
Make your traffic sources as diverse as possible:
A great way to revive your traffic after being affected by a Google update is to diversify the traffic sources. This means that do not depend on just one source for traffic to your website.
While organic traffic is the best, you cannot ignore the huge amount of traffic you get from social media, email marketing, PPC, etc.
So when your organic traffic and page ranking is harmed, you can still keep the traffic flowing from these channels. In very less time, you will be able to get back on your feet.
With Google becoming less predictable day by day, SEO experts are now left in the dark as to how to recover from an update. Especially with the Maccabees update, Google has been very silent about it. So, the only way out is to observe your competitors.