Google Payday Loan Algorithm and Its Updates

Courtesy of Carlos Muza /


Why is it that Google named its 2013 algorithm update so peculiarly – Payday Loan Update – and how it affected various websites, payday loan ones including? Here are some facts.

The Payday Loan Update was one of the major and also pretty much significant updates that Google initiated. Its target was various spammy queries associated with such notorious industry sectors as porn and expensive payday loans (hence the name). As a result, about 0.3% of super spammed queries were affected.

Some History

  • Payday Loan Update (2013) – The first one, it was aimed at payday loan and porn industry and other sectors with heavy amounts of spammed queries. The update got huge reaction.
  • Payday Loan 2.0 (2014) – Google updated the payday loan algorithm to target spammy sites.
  • Payday Loan 3.0 (2014) – Came out less than 30 days after the previous one, this Google anti-spam algorithm update actually had all the spammy queries targeted.

Thus, in the result both spammy queries and spammy sites were affected by the Payday Loan updates.

Three Examples of Websites Affected by the Payday Loan Update (that are interesting from the SEO point of view)

There are many case studies of the sort, here are just three to start with. Their examples are quite informative; and they also provide us with better understanding of how Google updates generally work (how to fall into disfavor, how to recover, or not to lose your search engine position in the first place) and what useful lessons can be drawn from such experience (especially for the industry players.)

Link Research Tools case study by Bartosz Góralewicz concerns the British website Cashlady, and it is a very interesting text that deals with spammy links and Google manual penalty as well as possible ways to lift it.

TrenchWorthy case study by Josh Sturgeon offers all types of examples: paid backlinks, guest (sponsored) posting, even hacking as a way of getting a new link. It also focuses on blog comments which are spammy but still capable of making it through the Google’s filter. It is an interesting case study, worth reading.

Moz case study by Steven Macdonald concerns the British website and describes how it ended up with an 81% organic traffic loss after Google Payday Loan Update. It might be interesting to see how one website managed to use almost all the unhealthy linking techniques in order to get good rankings and search engine position. They had to made a huge effort to recover – deal with their links as well as content and usability. The decision to shift their content focus to education is also a fascinating one (and is pretty much popular and successful technique nowadays.)

Google Payday Loan Adwords Ban

However, Google didn’t stop there and introduced another restrictive measure – this time it targeted the AdWords sector. All payday loans or similar ads were to be banned. This was in 2016, and a year later Google doesn’t seem to change its mind no matter how liberally-oriented AdWords placement initially was meant, no discrimination intended.

Lessons to Learn

So, what were all those steps supposed to teach industry-related businesses?

Well, in order to be good, comply with the Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and do your best improving your search rankings by using white hat methods, not scammy ones. That’s what serious reliable businesses do, they don’t resort to manipulation, and they are also aware that it’s quite easy to get caught now – Google is much more fastidious and it reacts very fast.

That’s what some payday loan websites and their affiliates should start doing, too – using only clear well-thought SEO strategies; the industry is notorious enough to be called predatory and not to be trusted in the first place.

What to expect in the future? Will there be any more restrictive actions from Google that would deliberately concern payday loan industry and websites? It’s hard to tell. Policymakers are presently trying to figure out which side will win and whether the recently drawn CFPB payday loan rule will actually come into effect in 2018. If it does, perhaps, we will see Payday Loan 4.0 Update in the nearest future.