Earlier this week in their corporate blog [in Russian] Yandex announced yet another penalty that is about to hit low quality sites created for the purpose of selling links. More precisely, they promised to change the way AGS penalty works.
AGS penalty was initially introduced back in 2009, and from the very beginning was aimed a low quality sites. Usually AGS penalty hits sites with thin content, created either for selling links through link brokers or placing contextual advertising.
AGS penalty went through several modifications, the first one being AGS-13 and the last – AGS 40. If any of these versions were applied to a site, most of the site’s pages were removed from Yandex search index.
The newest version of AGS, however, will be a different kind of punishment. Instead of de-indexing the site, Yandex instead will lower its TIC (thematic index of citation) to 0.
The sites that have already been affected by AGS penalty, will also suffer from TIC reduction, but the de-indexed pages will return to the search index. These sites, however, will rank low until necessary actions are taken, and the links from these sites will not be able to influence organic rankings.
During the last few years Yandes has taken multiple actions against low quality sites – from penalties for thin content and excessive advertising to excluding paid links from the ranking formula for several verticals.