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Google Penguin Update: You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet

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Google Penguin Update: You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet
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Last year, Google launched the Panda update, and wreaked havoc across the web on sites doing little to contribute to the quality of content appearing throughout Google’s search engine. This year, it’s been the Penguin update doing the wreaking (with Panda continuing to do its job at the same time). There has been plenty of panic among webmasters caused by the Penguin update, primarily in the inbound links department, and from the sound of it, that’s really just getting started.

Is Google’s Penguin update making the web better? Is it making Google better? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Now, some would say that an update like Penguin is good for Google and for the web at large. It’s hard to argue that an algorithm update designed to get rid of spam is truly a bad thing. At the same time, many webmasters feel they are being unjustly punished by Google, and are essentially bringing a rocket launcher to a knife fight in the battle to get back into Google’s good graces. By doing so, they’re trying to exterminate links, which they may even find valuable, if not for fear of Google.

Based on recent comments from Google’s Matt Cutts, I would not expect this mentality to change anytime soon.

Cutts appeared at the Search Engine Strategies conference in San Francisco this week, talking about a variety of search-related topics, and of course touting Google’s Knowledge Graph.

Inevitably, the subject of the Penguin update came up. According to a paraphrased account of Cutts’ talk, he said webmasters could expect updates to be “jarring” for a while.

Matt Cutts commented on a Search Engine Roundtable blog post about it, saying:

Hey Barry, I wasn’t saying that people needed to overly stress out about the next Penguin update, but I’m happy to give more details. I was giving context on the fact that lots of people were asking me when the next Penguin update would happen, as if they expected Penguin updates to happen on a monthly basis and as if Penguin would only involve data refreshes.

If you remember, in the early days of Panda, it took several months for us to iterate on the algorithm, and the Panda impact tended to be somewhat larger (e.g. the April 2011 update incorporated new signals like sites that users block). Later on, the Panda updates had less impact over time as we stabilized the signals/algorithm and Panda moved closer to near-monthly updates. Likewise, we’re still in the early stages of Penguin where the engineers are incorporating new signals and iterating to improve the algorithm. Because of that, expect that the next few Penguin updates will take longer, incorporate additional signals, and as a result will have more noticeable impact. It’s not the case that people should just expect data refreshes for Penguin quite yet. Emphasis added.

Still in the early stages. Will have a more noticeable impact. In other words, Google is just getting started with Penguin, and you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Reader Josh Bachynski, responding to Cutts’ comment, said, “Matt, can you please tell us exactly what to fix now then so we are not caught off guard? Don’t give us the secret sauce, just be transparent and say ‘watch your linking text’ or ‘check your HTML for inadvertent alt attributes with keywords in them’ or ‘delete all your old links on ‘put-it-there-yourself’ pages (or nofollow them)’ or whatever this new penguin eats :-) That would be awesome transparency that does not give anything new away, just focuses our efforts.”

Cutts responded to him on Twitter, saying:

So, I don’t expect the mad rush by webmasters to have links removed anytime soon. I don’t expect to see less instances where people are charging to remove links. Yep, this is what the web has come to.

Of course, webmasters are still waiting on that tool that allows them to tell Google what links to ignore. That is supposedly still coming, and hopefully the next time the Penguin terrorizes its targets, the tool will be available. It would not only make things easier on the webmasters who are trying to clean up their link profiles, but for all the sites that have to deal with webmasters freaking out because they’re afraid of links.

Are you ready for more Penguin? How do you expect it to change Google results? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Image: Batman Returns (Warner Bros.)

Google Penguin Update: You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet
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  • http://www.computerfutures.com/ Tom

    Personally, I think that as much as it is good to get rid of all the spammers and over optimised websites, we know that Google does all these algorithm updates to make SEO harder and harder and get webmasters to get on Google AdWords instead…

  • http://www.atoznetventures.com A to Z Net Ventures (in Houston)

    I’m an SEO and I find I am using Bing for my own personal searches more then I did 3 months ago when I was using Google about 95% of the time. This tells me plenty of others must be doing the same! I wonder if Google is seeing a backlash following their Penguin updates. The guys at Bing must be quietly smiling to themselves.

  • http://www.bredbaand.me/ Bredbånd

    They have define the Google What on earth this new penguin eats would be awesome transparency that does not give anything new away, just focuses our efforts.

  • http://www.convurgency.com/reputation_management.html Online Reputation Management

    According to me Google takes an action against spammers but what about quality website, previously some good website was also affected by the Penguin. Google must reveal the complete details about the update so webmasters can avoid those practices to avoid penalty.

  • Oliver

    I really hope they GET TONS OF FTC complaints, their search engine is a joke right now. I’m done playing catch-up with them

    I dont have any bad backlinks, nor do I optimize for keywords, yet I lost 50% traffic, how is that fair in any way? From nearly 60k+ to 30k visitors per day — how is that something someone can build a business upon? No, I for my part will not spend another dime on AdWords and support Google. They lost a lot of trust and I hope a lot of others will stop spending money on Adwords so their stock price declines and they take the company private, because that would save the web

  • Jamie

    Google’s frowning of suspect links will create a whole new industry whereby people organise to have links to their competitors websites published within thousands of link farms in order to push them further down the SERP, thus making room at the top for themselves. Anyone noticed lots of new links to their sites as competitors try to attack their rankings?

    • http://www.teknohabercim.com gökhan

      Penguen :D

  • Toni

    Is Google’s Penguin update making the web better? Is it making Google better?

    The answer to both of those questions is NO!

    They have however succeeded in making a poor economy worse however. Million of websites are taking a hit from Google and 3/4 of those millions are good sites which shouldn’t get hit. Google however figures that if they can catch one crook among the millions of victims they have done their job. It’s almost like taking away the right of millions of Americans to vote so that the one guy is Battan Rough Louisiana voting illegally can’t do so any more.

    Good work Google. You the cop ! But, I’m the guy that just sold your stock, stopped using your advertising “and” your search engine. Pass it on.

  • http://e-cigaretguiden.dk/ Ecig

    We must accept that things are getting harder. Seo is’t for quiters

  • http://www.converthtmltowordpress.co.uk convert html to wordpress

    It does seem that they are trying to pave the way for a lot more adsense customers really and it is worrying the amount of control they have over the incomes of so many people to be honest!

  • http://www.excelcompressors.co.uk Steve Eyres

    We are an “SME” in the UK, annual turnover circa £2M. We have all our SEO carried out by a local specialist company, in addition we also spend a reasonable amount monthly on Pay Per Click.
    Over the previous 18 months we have steadily improved our organic listings on Google, arriving on Page 1 in our particular industry for the last 6 months or so.
    We continue to employ the SEO company.
    After the recent update took place our website disappeared from Page 1 overnight, ending up on page 3 & 4 initially.
    The situation seems to be slowly improving, over the last month or so we have moved back toward the top of Page 2
    The problem?? – we have seen a 24% REDUCTION in sales revenue as a direct result of the update.
    This is very frustrating, I am told that over time and with a different approach to our SEO the results will continue to improve and hopefully we should get back to the position we were in previously on Page 1
    As a service provider, if we went onto a customers site and made adjustments to a customers system, with or without their permission and it reduced the plant production output by 24% overnight??
    We would not be invited back to site again.
    I have always been a big fan of Google but the recent updates and the promise of further updates to their algorithm really worry me.
    In the meantime ……….. watch this space

  • http://forums.techhowl.com Tech Forum

    nice article, thank you so much for this great post

  • http://www.makemoneyteam.com Raymond

    It seems that Google now considers any incoming link that you somehow “made happen yourself” 100% proof that you are spam. Problem is, sometimes, one persons “spam topic” is simply another persons website. There is strong evidence out there suggests that Google is NOT applying certain filters to everyone, rather to specific targeted niches. So if Google doesn’t like “diet supplements” because they’ve seen a lot of spam in that subject area, then that area gets hit hard by the updates and anyone with a REAL dietary site and has created “too many” links themselves gets tangled up in the update along with websites which are totally inferior to their quality dietary website.
    So now, it appears to be a good time to start a blog and do nothing to it but add a post each day. Then as they kill off all the hard working webmasters, your blog might float to the top like all the lame ancient forum posts are doing now.

  • John B

    A site about a specific keyword is now cause for being kicked out of the organic listings for that keyword and is called ‘quality’ results? No way in hell is this better.

    The insinuation that, if you are hit by penguin you have a spam site only adds insult to injury. I have done exactly what I was told by google, build keyword links to my keyword site.

    In my opinion, one should be able to make a good site with quality content and that be enough, not have to spend years as a de-facto unpaid Google employee building out content elsewhere to game the listings on ‘social’ (and that is exactly what they are demanding if you want to rank) rather than building my own site as I should.

    Now ‘poof’, 13 years of work gone. In its place are large corporate gas giants that are very well known and get great traffic under their company names; they do not need the keyword searches too.

    NOBODY goes onto a search looking for something to buy thinking ‘gee, I sure would like to see a results page full of large corporate stores I already know about’.

  • http://www.billigelcigaret.dk/ El cigaret

    Yes link building isn’t getting any easier, googel is making it hard to these days..

  • http://elektronisk-cigaret.info/ Elektrisk cigaret

    Thanx for sharing this great info.

    Much appreciated

  • SallyMae

    Hell no, I had quality sites that I made from tons of research. The only reason I did seo like meta tags, link building, and keywords in title is because thats what was needed to improve my ranking and get my site found. That does not mean my content was not of quality.
    Really Specific keywords and terms suck at google now. No wonder more people are turning to Bing. If you search for anything really specific you will find results that are completely unrelated. Google you are just making it worse for your self by discouraging people to make content filled sites by creating such a risky environment when one day your site is in search engines and the next it is gone. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you!

  • http://www.connect-media.dk Jonas Jørgensen

    Just an update:

    The disavow tool from Google is now live, and have been for 3 weeks.
    Its easy to use, but not easy to see if Google have made the recuested action.

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