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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.zenfly.co.uk Zenfly WebDesign

    Google is going to rule the world, they have the power!

  • http://in.linkedin.com/pub/bhavik-vyas/50/8b9/1a6 Bhavik Vyas

    Strange, no keyword ranking change whatsoever neither for us or any of our competitors. Not even competitors I know of who dramatically cleaned up their back link profile after a Penguin penalization. I know of competitors who did spam after Penguin 2.0 and neither were they affected by Penguin 2.1.

    What’s going on?

  • http://www.firstgameworld.com Jason Lee

    Google doesn’t affect any of our sites, we don’t use SEO, we don’t rely on search engines. We are the internet, so our sites are not associated to anything, such as yahoo, google, twitter, facebook, etc. Our sites are 100% clean with real invited people to visit our sites. So we don’t need such things like yahoo or google to say who is better, we depend on real people, not something from the internet. Remember the internet is just a network of machines, not people.

  • ramon

    My client has a web site and I think he got hit hard by penguin 5 that is gone from all the locations he was.

    I promoted the site using only white hat with little links each month.
    Can anyone identify if the site was hit last penguin? I will pay course

  • http://ConciseMarketing.com Steve Mauldin

    We saw an 18% increase in organic Google traffic compared to the previous 30 days.

  • http://webhostinggenius.net/ Jermaine

    Submission to poor article directoires is DEAD.(i.e penalized sites)
    links from poor web directories is DEAD. (i.e penalized sites)
    Sitewide links. Very dangerous.
    No more anchor text promotion.. (we can promote up to a limit.)
    All links from dofollow sites is dangerous.
    Links from poor pages. (i.e penalized, banned, low back link profile sites)

    So, we need to be very careful while dealing with penguin.

  • http://www.sharelocalbusiness.com Sharelocalbusiness

    There is a vast effect on my Website and my keyword fall to low rank in SERP. Can anyone please help me to recover from it. IIFP India .COM

  • http://www.birthdaywrap.com Sandeep

    Suggest me what to do for best seo.

  • Amit

    After latest Google updates that previous methods of link building isn’t working like social bookmarking, comment, forum profiles etc. Now I started cleaning up some spammy or low-quality links, I also posted some articles on article posting websites.But I posted duplicate articles in many of them with my site’s links in those articles. now i really don’t know whether should i remove this article or not ? to recover form Google penguin 2 (May 22, 2013) update.

  • http://pagerank-up.net/seo-training-karachi/ Ali Jan ( SEO Expert )

    SEO optimizer mus keep in touch about recent Google Update. And as far as Google Penguin Update 2.1………….The its bad new for black hat word………….Thanks & Keep Writing Like This Topic

  • http://www.livecasinodirect.com/ Joshua

    I think google is really getting down to it. Spammers still have chances, though. Legitimate sites with some unnatural links suffer the most out there. Spammers simply do not care as they have a different approach and ashort term view. I f they can create lots of backlinks overnight and the site ranks for 2 weeks they can move on to another domain and start the whole thing. So the real losers are those that have started good work and made some mistakes. Of course, google is willing to cooperate and you can get rid of penalties – that is good news.

  • http://www.hostingrev.org Prasanta Saikia

    I finally succeed in Penguin penalization by submitting the unnatural inbound links to disavow. Anyway great topic.

  • http://anunturio.com/ anuntur

    I think this hits my site very good

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