What is the Payday Loan Algorithm?

In June 2013 Google decided to target search results for some specific terms, which was a new direction in their web spam attack strategies.  Google had previously attacked poor backlink profiles (Penguin) and poor content (Panda – updated to 4.0 this week as well)  This week Google refined the ‘PayDay Loans’ algorithm to version 2.0

Matt Cutts refers to these as ‘very spammy queries’, and the industry has labelled this as payday loans as it is a classic example of these searches.

Why ‘Pay Day Loans’?

'Payday Loans' searches in Australia The search Pay day loans is a strong sales signal for the short term finance industry (NB I didn’t say ‘loan shark’ ) Regrettably its a term that is used increasingly frequently as you can see in the Monthly Searches provided by Google’ Keyword Planner. Is it an indicator of our economy or maybe the increasing reliance on credit?

You might be surprised to learn Keyword Planner also reveals that an AdWords click for payday loans will cost the advertiser upwards of $23 – BTW this is paid to Google. The cost per conversion would be very expensive indeed, and so as you might expect the corresponding organic search (ie SEO) competition would also be commensurately intense. Competing in this environment means that online marketers need to go hard to get a result for their clients, which often leads to schemes that cross Google’s ‘Quality Guidelines’, and that is presumably why Google have decided to address these markets.

 Who is really getting the money?

Given there are approaching 10,000 searches per month this is a big marketplace, and with Google collecting $23+ for every AdWords click they would be making lots of money from it as well as the financiers. You have to wonder if Google’s motive is purely to make an ‘equitable internet’, or is there a hidden agenda to generate more AdWords revenue by controlling the organic search outcomes more tightly?

 Update Pay Day Loans 3.0

13 June 2014 and Matt Cutts from Google has announced the launch of Pay Day Loans 3.0 update

Search Engine Land notes Payday 3.0 specifically targets spammy queries, versus spammy sites. What exactly that means is not 100% clear. But the types of queries this targets includes terms like [payday loans], [casinos], [viagra] and other forms of highly spammy queries.

Watch for more info as it comes to hand…