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Google Penguin Update 2.1 Is Bigger Than Your Average Penguin Refresh

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Google Penguin Update 2.1 Is Bigger Than Your Average Penguin Refresh
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Google’s Matt Cutts announced late on Friday that Penguin 2.1 was launching, affecting roughly 1% of searches “to a noticeable degree.”

Did you notice? Has the update had any impact on your own rankings (positive or negative)? Let us know in the comments.

This is the first official Penguin announcement we’ve seen since Google revealed its initial Penguin revamp, with 2.0 in May.


Penguin 2.0 was the biggest tweak to Penguin since the update initially launched in April of last year, which was why it was called 2.0 despite the update getting several refreshes in between.

Cutts said this about Penguin 2.0 back when it rolled out: “So this one is a little more comprehensive than Penguin 1.0, and we expect it to go a little bit deeper, and have a little bit more of an impact than the original version of Penguin.”

Penguin 2.0 was said to affect 2.3% of queries with previous data refreshes only impacting 0.1% and 0.3%. The initial Penguin update affected 3.1%. While this latest version (2.1) may not be as big as 2.0 or the original, the 1% of queries affected still represents a significantly larger query set than the other past minor refreshes.

Hat tip to Danny Sullivan for the numbers. The folks over at Search Engine Land, by the way, have been keeping a list of version numbers for these updates, which differs from Google’s actual numbers, so if you’ve been going by those, Danny sorts out the confusion for you.

Penguin, of course, is designed to attack webspam. Here’s what Google said about it in the initial launch:

The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines. We’ve always targeted webspam in our rankings, and this algorithm represents another improvement in our efforts to reduce webspam and promote high quality content. While we can’t divulge specific signals because we don’t want to give people a way to game our search results and worsen the experience for users, our advice for webmasters is to focus on creating high quality sites that create a good user experience and employ white hat SEO methods instead of engaging in aggressive webspam tactics.

Word is that Penguin 2.1 has had a big impact on webmasters.

“We have threads at WebmasterWorld, Black Hat Forums, tons at Google Webmaster Help, Threadwatch and many others,” forum watcher Barry Scwhartz said on Monday. “Keep in mind, this was announced late Friday afternoon and the threads are just going to get worse when more people check their analytics after the weekend is over, sometime this morning.”

“I’ve seen screen shots of Google Analytics showing websites completely destroyed by this update,” he added. “I’ve also seen screen shots of Google Analytics showing websites that recovered in a major way from previous Penguin updates. This had huge swings both ways for webmasters and SEOs. Some recovered and are back in business, while others are about to lose their businesses.”

On figuring out if your site was affected by Penguin 2.1, Kristi Kellogg from global Internet marketing firm Bruce Clay, Inc. says, “BCI recommends monitoring your organic traffic in Google Analytics over the next two weeks, looking for a dip. A dip in traffic occurring on this date may indicate that your site has been hit by this update. In some cases, you might see an increase in traffic, which would indicate an outranking competitor took a blow from Penguin 2.1.”

On combating Penguin 2.1, she says to clean up your backlink profile, adding, “Going forward, move away from a ‘link building’ mindset. Over and over, Cutts has warned that links should not be your main focus. The main focus should be the user experience. Focus on creating and promotion quality content, that is useful, has value — in short, create something compelling that people will want to share. If you do succeed, natural links will be a byproduct of your efforts.”

And remember, Cutts and co. are paying attention to what people in the “black hat” forums are saying.


As you can see, Penguin is still part of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm. That was an overhaul of Google’s larger algorithm, which still includes various pieces, such as Penguin and Panda. So if you were expecting those pieces to go away for some reason, let Penguin 2.1 be your wake-up call.

More of our past Penguin coverage here.

Have you seen any noticeable effects of Penguin? Hummingbird? Let us know in the comments.

Image: Batman: Arkham City

Google Penguin Update 2.1 Is Bigger Than Your Average Penguin Refresh


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  • http://www.rameezulhaq.com M. Rameez Ul Haq

    Well, My traffic increased to 10% after the effect.

  • http://www.maheshkapshikar.com/ Mahesh

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for the update! I have been looking at few searches in Google and I can surely say Google is failed to achieve with this algorithm update what they were targeting on.

    “Actually the Penguin2.1 change has increased rankings for sites that Google believes who are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines.”

    What do you think??

    • http://www.webpronews.com/author/chris-crum Chris Crum

      I haven’t immediately come across any problematic examples, but these things are never perfect. I’m sure we’ll be getting another refresh in the not too distant future.

      • http://www.maheshkapshikar.com/ Mahesh

        Hi Chris,

        I hope your words may come true. When can we expect another refresh? as I can see my website is coming back in Google UK and Google Canada for some competitive search terms. Do you think we will back to the Google USA too?

        Can you comment here too?

        http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!mydiscussions/webmasters/feBh9tkFOFI

        Look forward for the same support in near future.

        Many Thanks,
        Mahesh

        • Julio

          The more Google tries to combat spam, the more Negative SEO works!

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Brick-Marketing-SEO-and-SEM-Firm/14204584980 Nick Stamoulis

    I’m looking out for one client that got hit with Penguin 2.0 before they started working with us but because their traffic is always slower on the weekend I can’t tell for sure whether it had any positive impact or not. I guess I will give it today and tomorrow and see.

  • http://pagearabia.co news

    Oh, ze irony.

  • http://www.vacpartswarehouse.com VacPartsWarehouse

    Looking forward to seeing how these changes will affect SERPS. I think Google has a pretty good understanding of what is spam and what is worth-while. I just don’t get how G+ continues to affect results.

  • Rodrick Van Stelfindorfin

    Of all the sites we rank we’ve seen the ones previously pushing the envelope with aggressive BL’s that have definitely been hit, some harder than others..some are right off the grid.

  • http://www.aegisisc.com chirag

    hello, one plz tell me how to recover my ranking.

    • encore.digital

      can u give me some details about your site so i can give you some quick suggestion.
      skypeid:encore.digital

    • http://softsunrise.com wajid

      this is affecting our earlier sites the policy affect my old site

  • http://www.cartoonmini.com/ cartoonmini

    my website is new there is a huge drop in organic search in late 2 to 3 day i was searching for the reason thanks for the update Chris.

    • encore.digital

      Good ethical techniques and good understanding knowledge of analysis can only help you to get recovery and improvement. Me and my clients are example of it.
      Skypeid:encore.digital

  • http://www.optiproerp.com ERP Software

    There is no major traffic change at my site because of this update

  • http://rkwebspace.com RK Web Solutions

    Google Penguin 2.1 update could have large impact. Our clients are still having the similar traffic as of the past weeks as some of the keywords are dropped while are some are raised.

    Google updating these algorithm to prevent spam and for their audiences so to provide better results

  • http://www.libro-seo.it/corsoseo/ SEO Marco

    I love Matt Cutts

  • http://www.awalkonda.com Madhav

    My website awalkonda.com also hit by new update. I lost my 95% traffic from my site.

  • Sam

    One day you will search “google” on Google and it wont come up!! if they keep making this kind of Algo

  • Tad

    My web site naturalstoneoutlet.com was obliterated. I was given horrible SEO advice on backlinks and now even terms that are for my proprietary products are not showing. Super painful.

  • http://www.marketsharewebdesign.com/ Kathy

    Nothing really earth shaking in way of ranking changes on the sites I manage. Still have a couple of sites that have never fully recovered from Penguin. Seems like they always remain 2nd page. Nothing has changed with those two sites either.

  • http://www.backwaterstudio.com Kathleen Johnson

    I have been working hard with the Google Webmaster tools and, on my little site, the traffic and ranking is picking up. But, truth in fact, Google is making it very tough for the small business site to compete at the tech level expected at Webmaster Tools. It is not for the faint of heart or technically challenged. Gone are the days when you could pop a website up and let the chips fall where they may…….

    Where I was raised in the outback of Western Australia – we had no electricity, and outside toilets. When we did finally get DC power(yes, direct current and not AC), we got a large wood telephone on the wall that had a party line.

    Wow, in my lifetime, has the world changed……..

    And, for many of us BabyBoomers – this technical saavy is making it tough to compete.

  • http://www.thecatholictravelguide.com Gloria

    Looking at my stats since Friday, traffic has increased. Not sure if that has anything to do with the update….but will continue to knock on wood. I am so ignorant of Google that I had to do a search to figure out how to see my organic results….learn something new every day! Thanks for the article.

  • Christy

    I’m unsure as to whether or not my issue has anything to do with this update but my entire account was suspended. They claim it was a TOS violation. They are IMPOSSIBLE to get a hold of. How can they put you completely out of business and not give you specifics regarding why?

  • PenguinPoo

    Ahh… the old retrospective.. “one day this is ok” next day “no this is not” approach, ignorant company at best. Google have **** on me from great height with this one. They are as close to a dictatorship as a hyper capitalist company can get. I could have done no more to clean up and what do I get? Probable extinction in my line of work. Thanks a bunch.

  • http://www.eliquidlabs.co.uk Clare

    My website has been around 1 1/2 years and done well for various relevant search terms in its field. As of Friday not just my website drop for those search terms, it has disappeared completely.

    It is still indexed according to site: and wmt and if i type company name in G, it still comes as num 1. But all the various other search terms such as product names etc, gone, not just dropped a few pages…gone

    Fortunately I get lots of repeat customers and people who do direct to my site, so my business is not dead YET, but still I rely on G for new customers and to stay in view and keep up with competition.

    I have a blog on my site that I update with fresh content, fresh reviews are posted on product pages regularly, I post on our facebook, twitter and g+ pages. All as instructed by Google. The search terms I ranked for were relevant to my site and products, it is tricky to know what i can do.

    I havent done anything particularly blackhat, only thing that I wonder about is forum postings, there is an industry related forum that I have a sig link using a relevant search term and I post on their alot due to various industry discussions going on. Could it be that?

  • http://www.absoluteinspirations.com vicki

    Our small but up and coming inspirational gift stire was hit extremely hard. we have been doing search audits bi weekly sindlce 2010 and worked hard and fair to gaim and sustaim first or aecond page ranking on key words for almost 3 years. once before about 14 months ago we diasappeared completely and i spent two weeks trying to figure out how to recover and we sid.this time i am not as sure. google is killing small business with low to no advertising dollars and that add value. we are an inspirational gift store that has been bumped in ranking now to no where land and replaced by either amazon or cafe press and or duplicates of the same gift store ranking one after the othef ? ? ? seo companies and domain registrar comp are also getting hit because their ability to add real value against googles conatant changes is becoming less important. pretty much we as webmasters should be able to tweak things to gain rank it is not easy to do. and we should not have to have it be a full time job nor have to pay seo companies to do it for us
    ….
    by the way we are still ranking strong om bing and yahoo but we all know people still use google more :(

  • http://www.sktthemes.com Sonal Sinha

    My site was in top 10 on many keywords and was doing really well.

    Now from 4th of October it is dead just dead on google. Nowhere does it appear in search results.

    Someone said too many anchor text links causes this but my site is new and just linking from 200 domains in 4-5 months. I did no black hat seo and whatever was said is penguin safe i did to take it to top 10 of google from May till now.

    Now if i compare this with my competitors they also seem to have similar links, link structure, content on their site as well as even seo strategy. None of the other rankings seem to have affected except mine.

    Not sure what is going on. I will stop doing SEO now since it is boring and waste of time because Google is becoming unreliable day by day….

    • http://www.curat-confort.ro Lyz

      Same problem with my site!!!!!!I am waiting a page rank update to be again on first page. If no update, I am toast.

  • Shiloh

    Stop all your whining and start bowing to your leader King Cutts. He will lead you to the promised land…and then cut your freaking head off. Then you will have to purchase Google PPC ads :)
    So bend over and take it like a man!

  • http://www.lysaflores.com/ Lysa Flores

    After Hummingbird update my online florist got 10% extra traffic but on saturday penguin 2.1 really punished me… losing 45% quality traffic. Now working hard to get back again. cleaning old backlinks and optimizing internal linking…

  • http://www.cruelheartbreakerscinema.com Sublithium

    Actually, for the first time, it has helped me, I have seen a noticeable up tick in traffic. SO, I like it!

  • http://www.seostyx.com SEOstyx

    Hey, I have been doing some personal research around this and set up a case study for this exact reason just after the last update check my case study here http://www.seostyx.com/news/penguin-5-update-learnings-so-far/

  • http://www.decadent-femdom.com Sublithium

    I have never used black hat strategies, and for the first time I feel like google IS actually doing what they were saying that they were going to do and actually finding ways to improve the rankings of sites based on the context of the text within a site and it’s relevance to the user’s search, and as I said in my previous comment, it has increased my traffic. The only thing that bothered me is I thought the increase was due to something I was doing, not google, lol.

    The only problem I have now is that the google is still a bit too unclear on it’s SEO advice, but given the amount of blackhat people and techniques out there I don’t think they have a choice

  • MadMan

    The whole conversation about how the various Google “animals” are affecting individual site performance with regard to search results is not even academic, it is simply a waste of time!
    Unless developers can get access to information about what part of the page gave rise to what part of the ranking, we may as well not even waste the time and energy to discuss it.
    Matt and the other Google “talking heads” can say what they will, their only job is to put out enough “information” so that if/when Google gets accused of engineering a monopoly (as the EU did), they can point the “BS” finger at all the doublespeak and say “we are keeping the people informed”.
    If you believe that, I’ve got a whole pile of red painted metal over in San Francisco that I can sell you as scrap.

  • http://www.csomag-kuldes.com Csomag Kuldes

    What I’ve noticed since this newest update, my sites are getting more visitors. I have not done anything to my sites since this whole animal craze started and lost some rankings at the beginning, but they are coming back. You can’t change the fundamentals of a search no matter what animal you are using.

    Keywords! The basic of every search humans do. So, keywords stayed in. Links! Since the number of visitors are increasing and people have to find the information they are looking for, linking works too.
    Content! Information and products what humans are looking for, thus content has not changed either.

    Penguin, Hummingbird and whatever else is coming just a game google is playing and has not had much effect, because they cant change the basics. The basics always remains the same

  • https://twitter.com/livebhavik Bhavik

    A lot of relatively reputable ecommerce sites employ this tactic – black/gray hat or not – big box stores, electronics stores, auto dealerships, etc. I’ve got to assume that 1% is a very conservative estimate.

    • Scott

      More like the 1% they are talking about is the rich 1% of the world who now own the massive websites through shareholding…they get a boost.

      The way they see it they boosted the 1%, instead of penalizing the 99%.

  • http://www.diagnosisauto.com Diagnosis multimarca

    WOW just what I was searching for. Thnaks a lot.

  • http://www.candycartbuffet.co.uk Greg

    I have noticed an increase of hits as well as page position since the update. My SEO is no difference now than from any previous update.

    Content is king, that’s what makes the difference.

  • http://www.sharelocalbusiness.com Mandeep hooda

    There are some keywords for my website that becomes on low rank after this update. How can i recover them?

  • Robbie

    Oh I love it when Matt says linking shouldn’t be your priority and that content should be. He always seems to ignore the FACT that all those massive corporations Google likes to promote while destroying smaller businesses only got there because they spent years spamming their links all over the net.

    The reason some sites are on the first page is solely because they got there using black hat methods, and now all their competitors are being punished for doing things right and by the book.

    In the adult business Google promotes illegal tubes and file sharers with almost ZERO content on the page, above all the hundreds of affiliates writing about it, and above the source of the content itself too.

    If Google really was concerned about offering the most thorough and informative quality content, tube sites would not be constantly in the top of every adult search.

    To surmise – Matt is a liar, and Google is a corrupt monopoly king.

  • Rashad Evins

    my site was completely obliterated by this p 2.1 update. We were ranking 1st to 7th on about 10 keyword, now we are no where to be found. IDK what to do from here. I have only built about 300 high quality links but a link audit reveals my site has close to 6000 links so a clean up is probably not feasible. If anyone has any ideas about where to go from here, I’m all ears.

    • http://www.etrafficsolutions.com/ Mitch

      Rebuild; 301 redirect to new; keep new site backlinks very very clean!

  • http://myrujukan.com/ Juan

    i love penguin and panda because it make search engine more quality content than before

  • http://Www.creativestudiosderby.co.uk Mark

    I’ve always found any google update has increased our rankings, as designers we have always concentrated on user experience and keeping people on the site when they arrive, it’s good to be rewarded for this rather than spending hours building up pointless links.

  • http://www.ecommercemaker.com Dennis

    Google wants to gives better search result to the users so the update their search algorithm Google Penguin Update 2.1 It penalize the low quality content sites from the result.

  • http://www.seologico.it SeoLogico

    Why Google try to find out the websites using black hat strategies while site like text-link-ads.com and scrapebox.com has a lot of authority (PR6) and a lot of traffic from organic results? Thanks

  • http://www.bazarus.ro mercador

    thx for post

    • David Kinston

      I need everyone’s reply for my comment:

      It seems like ‘homepage’ rankings were impacted. Just about every search I do is only giving me results from sub-pages of sites, not the homepage. So it seems as if this update was weeding out homepage rankings (to kill off spam) because usually homepage rankings are the ones with the most artificially created backlinks, and the worst content.

      Can anyone else confirm this? I have a feeling I’m right.

  • http://www.sboag.com Peter

    Google has direct benefit in making the quality of the ads stand out above the top 10 search results, and that is exactly what they are doing.

    They hammer down on small business owners, knowing they dont have a voice and allow the big guys to rank..

    It is time for webmasters to understand that there are other traffic sources, and for google users to understand the ethics and morals of the Google company.
    Switch to duckduckgo, iquick or any other searchengine: we dont need Google, Google needs us. Its time to understand this!

    • http://timbiden.com Tim Biden

      “It is time for webmasters to understand that there are other traffic sources, and for google users to understand the ethics and morals of the Google company.”

      Google’s morals are in the gutter. They have no qualms wit selling you and your information to the highest bidder, all while removing the data they give us through the very tools that give them that data. (Analytics, webmaster tools, Adsense…)

      “Switch to duckduckgo, iquick or any other searchengine: we dont need Google, Google needs us. Its time to understand this!”

      I made the switch to Duck Duck Go about 2 months ago and I love it. These days, I only use Google when getting an approximation of the Google ranking for a given site. I also switched to using Chromium Iron to get the Chrome experience without reporting back to Big Brother G.

      • AK

        Thanks for sharing “Tim”.

        In fact duck duck go is good. All our lost articles and information looks intact on the first and second page respectively. Well, actually they are showing too many information on the first page itself.
        But we need to understand one thing. These engines are new and they are still on testing grounds. Many will still rely on the old horse. The question is why and how these updates have actually hit us and many like us. Is there a message? Its really hard to find out.
        Past few days I have been researching on this using few good sites I have been following along with mine. I have found that not all is lost. Couple of my articles is still visible on the first or the second page using various keywords and similar results appeared for the other sites too.
        Now the articles which are visible have a fair amount of backlinks just like any other articles and links and they are still generating traffic of some sort. These articles are once which created more inbound traffic and also very popular. And these are not dead, yet.
        Let me know if you have experienced anything like this.

  • Neha

    Can you please elaborate how Penguin and Hummingbird are interconnected and how they have impacted the websites as a combined change.

  • http://www.designfacet.com Sean

    Not sure about the search results I get. For example I get international graphic designers listed under local setting, or schools and institutions or jobs showing up when searching for keywords like graphic designer. The sad thing is that they take precedence over other local results.

  • http://thafederation.com/ VizFact

    We’re fighting the fall of Rome on our end… After Friday …. We’re rethinking everything.

    The collapse has occurred, its time to rebound.

  • http://konnectingu.com Aashish Sahni

    I think I have been hit by this Penguin update. The post that was getting me the maximum traffic has been demoted. Does this mean that every post I publish from now on will never get to the front page?

    Please answer if you’ve any idea!

  • wesam

    if you building links with same ip address. you wasting time

    • http://www.ndragon.pl nDragon

      Right.

      And check whois in domain names, DNS , backlinks group etc. And others circa a’100 other factors :)

  • Claire Read

    My site got hit badly. It is 17 years old.
    I’ve never created a link, never copied a piece of content. I am a photographer who posts my images to my blog and have been since 1996. The site has about a million words of text written by either myself or those commenting on my images – and around 12,000 images.
    Never made a link in my life but a few days ago I recieved an “unnatural linking notice”.
    I no longer even rank for my own name or my name appended with any photography or image based words.
    I looked in webmaster tools to see what had happened.
    The report showed I had been attacked in July some time by Black Hat linking, around 12,000 links appeared in my Google webmaster tools in the space of 48 hours, and for three months I had no idea. I certainly didn’t benefit from them during that 3 months. My traffic, which had been around 2,5000 visitors a day median and mean average for the last 9 years. It didn’t move in any noticable way. Until I got the bad links notice – then it did. 2,500 to under 300.

    I’m told to “apologise” and “own up to Google” for what I’ve done. I find this attitude infuriating. The link removal process is like jumping through fire hoops with no guarantee of achieving anything. I’m shocked to see that Google would suspect a venerable site like mine to do this for no benefit.

    I didn’t do it and it gave me no benefit at all.
    Going through the link removal process I found this spreadsheet tool which really helped me get to the kernal of the problem links very quickly.
    http://www.demondemon.com/2013/10/16/a-simple-process-to-prepare-your-link-lists-for-google-disavow/

    Turns out 10% of the links were mine and made my my visitors over the years, and I could sort those out from the rest in a few hours.
    I’ve written to over 200 web site owners asking for them to be manually removed, though why I have to spend hour upon hour of my time doing this when I didn,t make them in the first place is very very annoying.

    Then I’ll send the list to Google. You might say I’m a little annoyed.

    Claire

  • http://www.seostyx.com Lucas

    I have made an update on what i had written before about the penguin update http://www.seostyx.com/case-study/penguin-5-update-learnings-so-far-19/ had good feedback from here do thought i would update you

  • http://securedl.net M.Arnold

    I think this hits my site very bad, my site is not to be seen :( or maybe temp issue.

  • http://www.ndragon.pl nDragon

    Some of sites after down do top100 for some months ago are back in top20 after Penguin2.1 and some “sh..t” site are go up too
    A big work with top domain go away and some cheap sites go up – the algo su…

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