Google has rolled out an update to its search ranking algorithm designed to target spam in search results. The “November 2021 spam update” marks the fourth spam-related update that Google made this year.

“As part of our regular work to improve results, we’ve released a spam update to our systems,” the company wrote in a tweet. “This November 2021 spam update should be fully rolled out within a week. We encourage sites to follow our best practices for Search.”

Why does Google work so hard to fight spam in search results?

Google defines spam as “…using techniques that attempt to mimic [quality] without actually delivering on the promise of high quality content.”

Last year its automated systems blocked 25 billion spammy pages from being indexed in search results every day.

Google’s priority has always been to ensure that the best and most relevant web pages rise to the top — it knows that people use Google to find trustworthy information. If spammy sites make their way to the top of search, people would be less inclined to use Google.

“Without our spam-fighting systems and teams, the quality of Search would be reduced–it would be a lot harder to find helpful information you can trust,” Google wrote in a recent blog post.

“With low quality pages spamming their way into the top results, the greater the chances that people could get tricked by phony sites trying to steal personal information or infect their computers with malware.”

What does this mean for your law firm’s website?

If you follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines — and you have a secure website — you have nothing to worry about.

However, if your current law firm website doesn’t have appropriate security measures, it may be vulnerable to hacking: That could result in your site producing spam or malware without your knowledge. (LawLytics members, you’re all set — your site automatically includes native SSL security.)

Because the responsibility of security is on the site owner, Google treats hacked sites in the same way that it treats sites that are deliberately spammy: by relegating those sites in search results. In its yearly spam-fighting report, the instances of hacked spam continue to rise, which highlights the importance of having a secure website.

Alternatively, your firm may be at risk if you’re paying a company or individual who claims to know how to “trick” Google’s algorithm. If you have a sense that someone associated with your firm is creating web pages with the sole intention of tricking Google for search rankings (as opposed to content designed for your potential clients), you should stop immediately.