Yandex AGS penalty, ironically named after aRussian grenade launcher, was first introduced back in 2009. From the beginning, the penalty was aimed against low quality sites, and mainly affected those that were created for selling links through Russian link brokers and otherwise did not carry any value for the user.
AGS had two versions in its history: AGS-17 (September 2009) and AGS-30 (December 2009). This year, on the 1st of November, Russian SEO community noticed a lot of changes in Yandex search results, which initiated a lot of discussions in forums and blogs. Many suspected it, but today Yandex officially confirmed [in Russian] that they released the new version of AGS — AGS-40.
AGS-40 and its impact on Yandex SEO
AGS-40 is an adjustment of the previous version to the evolved Internet and its new spam techniques. The purpose of AGS did not change though — it is still targeted against low quality sites, which are mainly created for selling links.
When AGS penalty is applied to a site, typically most of its pages would get removed from Yandex search index. The number of indexed pages in these cases usually drops significantly — from hundreds to something between 1 and 10.
From the early observations it seems that the types of sites affected most were:
- Networks of sites created for selling links
Usually the sites would have the same or very similar IPs, low quality content (spinned, rewritten or plainly stolen from other sites) and a lot of “SEO” links.
- Independent sites selling links in articles and blog posts through link brokers
Not all sites selling article space got hit. The affected sites would usually produce low quality and / or very short texts with “SEO” links in them.
- Sites that place blocks of random “SEO” links in footers or other unnatural places
A lot of sites selling links through brokers place those links in very desecrate places. Typically a footer of such site would look like the example below: a bunch of links to anything from Christmas office decorations to boots to metal-bending machines.
Just like its predecessor, AGS-40 is automatic penalty, and can be lifted after the quality of the site is improved.
Yandex is taking an interesting approach to fighting web spam. Instead of punishing link buyers, like Google does with Penguin, Yandex puts focus on measures against link sellers. At the same time, removing sellers from the search index results into shrinking inbound link portfolios, lots positions and wasted money for the companies relying their SEO efforts on buying low quality links.
Good news for good guys — the natural high quality links, that you’ve been investing you time and effort in, just increased their value! :)