Baidu’s Anti-Spam Algorithm Updates 2013 (So Far)

Baidu has released two major anti-spam algorithm updates in 2013 so far

Posted by Ryan Chooai on 2013-05-28

Baidu has released two major anti-spam algorithm updates in 2013 so far, one in February and the other in May, both of which I think very important. So, instead of waiting till the end of 2013, I decide to give an introduction on the two algorithms now, mainly because:

1. The wait will kill me.

2. Google has rolled out Penguin 2.0, and I don’t think it’s nice to let Chinese webmasters feel like being ignored.

Speaking of anti-spam algorithms, Google has made theirs a zoo of black and white animals. At the same time, it seems Baidu is going to make theirs a garden…the names of the two algorithm updates are “Money Plant (绿萝)”, and “Pomegranate (石榴)”.

Baidu Money Plant Update

Money Plant is about link spam. To be more exact, it’s about public link trading.

Link purchasing, both public and under the table, is very popular here in the Chinese SEO world.

There are quite a few link trading platforms, where webmasters that want to sell links can list their websites with prices that are visible to everyone, and people that want to buy links can just go there and pick websites, like ordering in KFC or McDonalds.

You can imagine the quality of the listed websites. (Quick hint: what j_nk food do you buy from KFC?)

So, Baidu decided to take action.

Does It Work?

We collected around 150 websites that purchased links from these trading platforms and started to monitor their rankings on Baidu immediately after we heard of the update in February . It is not hard to find who are buying links from these platforms, since the sellers are just listed there, accessible to both spiders and human.

The 150 websites were from 5 industries, so we had only to prepare 5 keyword lists for ranking monitoring purpose.

We also started to monitor the indexation of 100 websites that sell links on the platforms. (We decided not to monitor the rankings of these sites because they are from a lot of different industries and it would be very time consuming to set up keyword list for each of them.)

By the end of April, we found 17 of 150 buyers lost all their rankings (out of the first 10 pages of Baidu’s search results) and 56, around one third of the 150 websites were seriously affected, losing at lease 30% of their rankings.

Unfortunately our experiment for the 100 seller sites failed, because more than 30 of them shut down (see another reason why you shouldn’t buy from them?). There is also a flaw in the experiment: most of the websites that sell links are also actively doing content scraping and content automation, so you don’t know if they are de-indexed because of selling links or other bad practices.

Please note our sample set is very small and there are also uncertainties and flaws in the experiment itself, for example, some buyer sites might disavow the purchased links so they were unaffected , so the results may not be true to other websites in real world.

What Should You Do?

Don’t buy links from these trading platforms. It’s a silly choice for people that dont’t want to lose their search marketing efforts overnight, before and after Baidu rolled out Money Plant.

Baidu Pomegranate Update

This update was newly released on May 17th 2013, and its purpose is to strike down websites that have excessive or intrusive ads that infuriate users, especially the ones that use pop-up ads or mix ads with real content.

Does It Work

Well, we are yet to see.

Most of today’s pop-up windows use javascript and we are uncertain of how well Baidu can handle javascript codes. Maybe there are some easy-to-spot characteristics among pop-up ads. For example, many pop-up windows use onclick event for javascript or the click() method for Jquery.

When I read about the Baidu Pomegranate update, the first type of websites that jumped into my mind is pirated software download websites, which are very popular here.

These websites usually have annoying ads, such as blinking gif images, hot girls saying hi, etc. They also use pop-ups. For example, when you click “Download”, the download doesn’t start as expected, but instead a pop-up ads shows up, usually about online games. You have to close the pop-up and click the download button again, then the download will normally start.

We have collected a number of these websites, to see where the Pomegranate update will bring them.

What Should You Do

Baidu has sent out a clear message to warn the webmasters who display annoying ads on their website. But I also want to give a heads-up to webmasters that use pop-up windows in clean ways, such as using pop-ups to display welcome messages and newsletter registration forms. Maybe you want to stop using them too, just in case you become the victim of friendly fire from Baidu.

Money Plant 2.0 (Update on July 15, 2013)

In July 2013, Baidu upgraded Money Plant to 2.0. This update is mainly targeting paid article trading platforms, paid article directories, and other websites that charge people for posting articles for marketing purposes, such as news portals and press release websites.

Possible penalties range from rankings going down to total de-indexation.

Related posts:

baidu seo guide

Stay up to date