Penguin 3.0 Update Confirmed
The much anticipated Penguin 3.0 rollout began on 17 October and is expected to be completed over the coming weeks. While some believed this update was only a refresh, it’s proving not to be the case, Google having already confirmed it’s a major change. Remember, when there is a major update or refinement it can take time for the dust to settle. While early winners and losers may be emerging (just), it can take weeks (and usually does) to properly work through the significance of an algorithm change. So in a very real sense, we’re in a state of flux.
Historically, Penguin has been updated less frequently than Panda. You have to look back to May 2013 to the launch of Penguin 2.0 to find any major changes in the operation of the algorithm. Until now.
If you’ve noticed your rankings change over the last week, for better or worse, it may, just may have something to do with the rollout. However, Penguin 3.0 is said to be a slow release so it may not have reached your site(s) yet.
Why Penguin 3.0 is Different
Penguin was originally launched a couple of years ago to work in tandem with Panda. It’s an algorithm specifically designed to punish “webspam” both on and off-site including manipulative external link building.
Penguin 3.0 is believed to be a more sophisticated version of its previous incarnation. It’s said to affect only 1% of search queries. Penguin 1.0 impacted about 3.1% of queries. As I said barely a week ago, while more disruption may emerge my gut feeling is that Penguin 3.0 is more precise than its predecessors hence the delay on its release. What we may find is that rather than producing many false positives, it’s going to impact fewer businesses, but more severely.
Who is Getting Rewarded or Punished and Why
For those of you caught by previous Penguin updates, if you fixed your link profile, and onsite spam this version of Penguin will help you recover. I am pretty sure of that. False positives caught by earlier updates also appear to be gaining rank. That said, Penguin 3.0 is still punishing sites that have a bad link profile. Remember, links must be relevant, helpful and in some way valuable. In essence Google is always looking to reward authoritative sites. It’s my experience even small business sites don’t always have good visibility of their links or onsite spam because the people helping them build up an online presence come and go. You must always know what’s being done to your site! And of course, Black Hat SEO has no place anywhere near a serious business site, large or small.
It’s inevitable however that attention will turn to how to deal with fallout from Penguin 3.0. If you’ve not been penalised by previous updates your sites will probably be OK, but only if you have control over onsite and offsite ranking factors and awareness of what’s been going on.
Recovery from Penguin 3.0
It’s likely that the advice given to sites previously penalised by a Penguin rollout will still hold good. But it’s important not to jump the gun as further refreshes are likely to happen over the coming weeks.
If you do suspect there are problems you must identify the root causes – both onsite and off. You must then remove and change the offending links and onsite spam. For sites of any size this can be a challenging and time consuming exercise. A proper analysis of links is essential using Google Webmaster Tools or Open Site Explorer or a similar tool. Reviews should also look for hidden text, cloaking and more obviously key word stuffing.
Even if you can do all that without professional help, a Penguin 3.0 penalty should raise question marks about your approach to optimisation. A review of SEO practices may be needed to avoid further difficulty.
How I Can Help
I’ve nursed and supported many small businesses through various Google updates. I am famed for my straightforward advice and I call it how I see it. There’s also no jargon or sales talk. I am happy to work with businesses on discrete consultancy assignments from as little as half a day and there is never any tie-in or obligation to use me after that. My incisive advice is known to get to the nub of a problem quickly saving you energy and time.