What is SpamBrain? Plus Google’s latest algorithm update

Published on November 9, 2022 by Alex Eade

SpamBrain sounds like something a children’s cartoon might magic up, but in actual fact it’s the brainchild of those geniuses over at Google HQ. Spam and spammy websites have always been the bane of Google’s existence, because in order for them to retain and grow their customer base, they need to provide a high-quality search experience. Spam is the antithesis of this. 

Black Hat SEO

Whilst Technical SEOs like ours (the dream team – Chris, Reuben, Steve & Sam) only perform SEO techniques that put the user first and improve websites for search engine customers, there are some out there who aren’t so trustworthy.

Black hat SEO is the practice of trying to make a website rank higher by using spammy techniques, and it was a big thing a decade or two ago. Back then, it was easy to make your website rank in first position for a specific keyword, simply by writing that keyword over and over again in your content. This is called keyword stuffing and Google very quickly got wise to this black hat spam technique, alongside a plethora of others (such as cloaking and redirects, comment spamming, scraping, unnatural links etc).

Google has been on a continual mission for the past two decades to root out spammy practices and stop ‘bad’ websites from ranking – SpamBrain and Google’s latest algorithm update are the latest attempts to ensure that when you make a search, Google only returns high quality web pages. 


Launched in 2018, SpamBrain is an ‘AI based spam-prevention system’ that is in continuous use by Google. It’s already yielding impressive results: 

  • In 2021, SpamBrain identified nearly six times more spam sites than in 2020
  • 70% less hacked spam in 2021 compared to 2020
  • 75% less gibberish spam on hosting platforms in 2021 compared to 2020
  • 99% of Google searches are spam free due to this system 

The key thing with SpamBrain is that it is constantly evolving. Internet spam used to be quite easy to identify (those stuffed keywords were pretty easy to see!) but spam, scams and other online nasties have become more intelligent, and harder to root out. People can fall prey to them, and Google doesn’t want that happening on their watch. 

The October 2022 Spam Algorithm Update

On 19th October, Google announced the release of their latest spam update, the first big spam update in 11 months (the last one being in November 2021). It was a global update affecting all languages, and it was expected to take a few days to roll the update out fully. 

After the November 2021 spam update, Google’s Danny Sullivan tweeted that ‘Spam updates deal with content that doesn’t follow our guidelines. Core updates are simply an adjustment to how we assess content overall.’ This comment suggests that in order to stay on the right side of Google’s spam updates, all you really need to do is follow the rules and create content that puts the user first. This means that, unless you know you are actively doing things that are spammy, you should be ok. 

Google Search Essentials

The guidelines that Danny Sullivan is referring to are the Google Search Essentials (formerly known as the Webmaster Guidelines). If you want to take a look at these guidelines in full, you can read them here. They include the spam policies that you should follow to ensure that you’re not partaking in ‘behaviors and tactics that can lead to lower ranking or being completely omitted from Google Search results’.