The Payday Loan update is the name of a Google search engine algorithm change, which was launched in June, 2013. The aim of this update was to improve search results for spam-prone searches. The Payday Loan update 2.0 was rolled out in May 2014.
Although Google search results have qualitatively improved tremendously since its introduction, the search engine company has been increasingly fighting against inferior quality of websites and in a wider context, against webspam since the Panda algorithm update in 2011.
The algorithm adjustment nicknamed “Payday Loan” which was initially introduced to the US search on 06/11/2013 was specifically directed against webspam measures and related searches. Content or linking of websites was not the focus of this update, but it was the affected searches and spam techniques intended to manipulate the SERPs.
Compared to the big updates like Panda or Penguin, far fewer searches were affected. Google or Matt Cutts stated at the time that the Payday Loan update was relevant only for 0.3 percent of all search requests. However, this figure varied from country to country. According to Matt Cutts, in Turkey, 4 percent of all entered search requests were affected by the Payday Loan update.
As with other updates, a memorable name was chosen, “Payday Loan.” The question is who will benefit from a corresponding credit after the algorithm change or who has already profited too long from a corresponding credit. At the same time, the name may also indicate that only payday is valid for a specific loan, in the sense of a too long-lasting use of illegal SEO techniques or black-hat techniques.
The name of the update was subject of sarcasm in the United States as noted by Barry Schwartz from Search Engine Roundtable in his post.
The Payday Loan update was primarily aimed at webspam techniques and the associated techniques and related searches. Specific topics mentioned by Matt Cutts in a video included credit, pornography, gambling, drugs, and pharmaceuticals. Thus, this algorithm change targeted specific markets, which were particularly affected by SEO spam. It would be comparable if the webspam team would increasingly work to discover spam measures in the areas of clothing or insurance and implement an appropriate update and not concentrate on the quality of websites or backlink structures in general. One might therefore assume that websites that do not fall within the above-mentioned topics felt little effect from the Payday Loan update.
In May 2014, Google once again upped the ante and rolled out the Payday Loan 2.0 update almost time-coincident with the Panda 4.0 update. The company indicated that 0.2 percent of all English searches were affected. Interestingly, even Ebay lost ranking for some searches after this update. Google tightened its measures against illegal techniques to manipulate the SERPs with the new version of the update.
Google appears increasingly intent on cleaning up inferior websites from its search results in recent years. This is evidenced by three distinctive and impressive updates, Panda, Penguin, and Payday Loan. Thus, it will likely be superfluous in the future to ask whether SEO measures outside of Google’s policies will be of any benefit, but more so anyone using them would have to ask themselves just how long these measures will remain successful. Currently, Google is handling any bugs in its algorithm system increasingly faster and ensures that the quality of the SERPs improves steadily.