How Big Is The Latest Google Penguin Update?

    May 24, 2013
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

Webmasters have been expecting a BIG Penguin update from Google for quite some time, and a couple weeks ago, Google’s Matt Cutts promised that one was on the way. Finally, on Wednesday, he announced that Google had not only started the roll-out, but completed it. While it was said to be a big one, it remains to be seen just how big it has been in terms of impacting webmasters.

Have you been impacted by the latest Penguin update? Let us know in the comments.

Just what did Cutts mean by “big” anyway? When discussing the update a couple weeks ago, he said it would be “larger”. When it rolled out, he announced that “about 2.3% of English-US queries are affected to the degree that a regular user might notice,” and that “the scope of Penguin varies by language, e.g. languages with more webspam will see more impact.”

As far as English queries, it would appear that the update is actually smaller. The original Penguin (first called the “Webspam” update) was said to impact about 3.1% of queries in English. So, perhaps this one is significantly larger in terms of other languages.

Cutts has also been tossing around the word “deeper”. In the big “What should we expect in the next few months” video released earlier this month, Cutts said this about Penguin 2.0: “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.”

Cutts talked about the update a little more in an interview with Leo Laporte on the day it rolled out, and said, “It is a leap. It’s a brand new generation of algorithms. The previous iteration of Penguin would essentially only look at the homepage of a site. The newer generation of Penguin goes much deeper. It has a really big impact in certain small areas.”

We asked Cutts if he could elaborate on that part about going deeper. He said he didn’t have anything to add:

The whole thing has caused some confusion in the SEO community. In fact, it’s driving Search Engine Roundtable’s Barry Schwartz “absolutely crazy.” Schwartz wrote a post ranting about this “misconception,” saying:

The SEO community is translating “goes deeper” to mean that Penguin 1.0 only impacted the home page of a web site. That is absolutely false. Deeper has nothing to do with that. Those who were hit by Penguin 1.0 know all to well that their whole site suffered, not just their home page.

What Matt meant by “deeper” is that Google is going deeper into their index, link graph and more sites will be impacted by this than the previous Penguin 1.0 update. By deeper, Matt does not mean how it impacts a specific web site architecture but rather how it impacts the web in general.

He later updated the piece after realizing that Cutts said what he said in the video, adding, “Matt must mean Penguin only analyzed the links to the home page. But anyone who had a site impacted by Penguin noticed not just their home page ranking suffer. So I think that is the distinction.”

Anyhow, there have still been plenty of people complaining that they were hit by the update, though we’re also hearing from a bunch of people that they saw their rankings increase. One reader says this particular update impacted his site negatively, but was not as harsh as the original Penguin. Paul T. writes:

Well, in a way I like this update better than any of the others. It is true I lost about 50% of my traffic on my main site, but the keywords only dropped a spot or two–so far anyway.

The reason I like it is because it is more discriminating. It doesn’t just wipe out your whole site, but it goes page by page.

Some of my smaller sites were untouched. Most of my loss came from hiring people to do automated back-linking. I though I would be safe doing this because I was really careful with anchor text diversity, but it was not to be.

I am going to try to use social signals more to try to bringt back my traffic.

Another reader, Nick Stamoulis, suggests that Google could have taken data from the Link Disavow tool into consideration when putting together Penguin 2.0:

I would guess that the Disavow tool was factored into Penguin 2.0. If thousands of link owners disavowed a particular domain I can’t imagine that is something Google didn’t pick up on. It’s interesting that they are offering site owners the chance to “tell” on spammy sites that Penguin 2.0 might have overlooked.

Cutts has tweeted about the Penguin spam form several times.

With regards to the Link Disavow tool, Google did not rule out the possibility of using it as a ranking signal when quizzed about it in the past. Back in the fall, Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan shared a Q&A with Matt Cutts in which he did not rule out the possibility. Sullivan asked him if “someone decides to disavow link from good sites a perhaps an attempt to send signals to Google these are bad,” is Google mining this data to better understand what bad sites are?

“Right now, we’re using this data in the normal straightforward way, e.g. for reconsideration requests,” Cutts responded. “We haven’t decided whether we’ll look at this data more broadly. Even if we did, we have plenty of other ways of determining bad sites, and we have plenty of other ways of assessing that sites are actually good.”

Searchmetrics released its list of the top losers from the latest Penguin update, which you can see here. It includes some porn, travel, and game sites, as well as a few big brands like Dish and Salvation Army.

What is your opinion of Google’s latest Penguin update? It it doing its job? Let us know in the comments.

  • http://www.pegasushealth.com Mark

    I’ve seen my site drop across a whole bunch of keywords. From 2 to 8 on ‘horse supplements’ And one particular site that is only 6 months old – a large corporate using PPC is now number one on ‘horse supplements’ keyword!

    • http://www.pegasushealth.com Mark

      BTW this is on google.co.uk

      I can’t understand the drop as other updates have always favoured my site. We use no black hat or spammy links, run a weekly blog, tonnes of unique content, great ecom site in a niche market.

    • http://www.rankwatch.com Rank Watch

      Google Penguin algorithm update has been for the goodwill of the web and its users. People who always do manipulative stuff to overcome competition and leap search benefits require to be penalized as they not only add any value to the users but are also tricking people. Hope Penguin iterations have very huge impact on these kinds of sites.

  • http://www.usa-hero.com/ Don Jones

    I don’t know about Penguin but I got hit big time when they stopped showing the arrow image on my ads. That arrow really brought me in some clicks but then I read where Google had withdrawn the arrows from 5000 sites saying that some of the arrow clicks were considered invalid since people didn’t spend enough time on the advertisers site. I really don’t feel it is fair for some webmasters to be allowed to show the arrows and others not.

  • http://Mabuzi.com Mabuzi

    Still the same but some sites never seen before are in the 1 position. Still the guys with 20 000 links are at the top

  • http://www.bbsnetting.com/ Pala

    Now it is time to create Apps that will decide how to write articles for search engines. They will count key words, number of words and so on.
    Still the web sites with hidden scripts are champions.

  • http://www.app-developers-india.com/ Modan Farhan

    My keywords also dropped but in this update I have seen some totally spammy linking website suddenly come in ranking means in top positions.

  • http://www.twitter.com/smopankaj Pankaj Thankur

    Thanks webpronews for shearing such a good article i get clear information about Latest Google Penguin Update? through this article

  • http://www.gorilla-tracking-uganda.com Amos

    Google will always do this over and again. What should we do to always prepare for this?

    • https://twitter.com/weboptmization Rajesh

      Stop targeting Google and try to target Bing. Google is Pushing all webmasters to choose for Google Adwords cause it’s revenue.

  • knysna

    J give Penguin a high five and thumbs up.

    Prior to the Penguin update my +- 10 page site was battling under all the local directories, news paper and free classifieds (a usual issue for small sites) that specific site of mine is still quite virginal and has NOT got a single backlinks to it (I don’t believe in creating backlinks)

    12 hours after Penguin was unleashed my site not only increased under all keywords but came up above all classifieds and directories including local advertising news papers sites. And what was even more surprising was it anchored at #1 under most keyword phrases even beating well established sites with high PR (backlink spammers)

    This Penguin has effected more sites than the older Penguin. The reason webmaster aren’t complaining is due to there sites not dropping very low. A more of a shuffle around on the top pages. That is without a doubt noticeable (under my keywords) when I view the new search results compared to the older results. Estate agents and tourism sites seemed to have vanished to lower pages, not appearing were they once did, pushing smaller relevant sites up in the search.

    As I said – HIGH FIVE for the Penguin update, and may all Link Web Spammers grobble in there own acquired crap they brought upon themselves 😉 Thanks Matt.

  • https://canadaseopro.ca Todd Herman

    We didn’t see much of a ranking shift at all, any rankings that did drop by one or two spots came back today. Quoting from my blog post yesterday, “In short, webmasters with content visitors want to share naturally and explore have not been negatively affected. It is obvious Google is not creating anything new with Penguin 2.0; it is generally tightening its algorithm so that users are provided with the relevant and highest quality possible.” Go Google go!

  • http://saliu.com/google-search-google-shit.html Ion Saliu

    Incredible! A bunch of bullishly-insane idiots, Google, created an army of addicts and slave-followers! They waste their lives following every act of insanity (“search updates”) and chasing links to disavow!!!

    And, then, what? What was good yesterday is bad today; what is “insanely good” today will be “insanely bad” tomorrow! And thusly them slaves are wasting their lives…

    • http://cass-hacks.com Craig

      What you are complaining about is “SEO”, chasing the latest and greatest short-cut.

      All one really needs to do is follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and forget about ‘this’ or ‘that’ update.

      Updates only ever negatively affect “SEO’d” sites. “SEO” in this sense taken as a pejorative to mean dishonest means employed to artificially elevate one’s site’s standings.

  • http://www.netprofitmarketing.com Jared

    Will admit that it isn’t as big as I thought it would be but I’ve seen some sites that I’ve been following that have been affected by this update.

  • http://www.techwork.dk Thomas

    My blog has been hit bad by this new update. my traffic has dropped 50-60% overnight. It is a bit frustrating that Google have so much power on the Internet. I guess I will just have to fight my way back with hard work.

  • https://twitter.com/weboptmization Rajesh

    I hate Google and Start Loving Bing :)

    • http://www.delhi-lawyers.in Delhi Lawyers

      Nice but I want to always update with google related SEO so this is possible that mail me proper.

  • http://www.amantel.com Prem Rawat

    My site has been hit bad by this update. My traffic is dropped 30-40% from 23rd of may. Its big and deep as matts said. its effect all my pages not only the home page all my category pages has been affected and drop ranks from 1st page to 2nd.

  • ranzualam


    Thanks for inform us new update, my website has been drop down 50%-60% home page with other page, but I want to improve my rank again, please write us right way about this.


  • http://www.pharmacytechnicianhq.com/ Rob

    I saw an increase in site traffic with Penguin Update 1, and just saw a 30-40% drop with Penguin Update 2. It is tough when you create good content, and subscribers/readers are providing positive feedback, yet you have little control over search rankings. Kind of frustrating.

  • http://www.graciousstore.com Gracious Store

    However big or deep the new penguin update might be, let it be as long as it is targeting webspam, that is fine. Once it does not affect honest and hard working webmasters’ websites

  • http://www.fixxoo.de Avirat

    My rankings has been dropped poorly.

    21 May = 2361 Visits
    22 May = 2097 Visits
    23 May = 1470 Visits
    24 May = 1359 Visits
    25 May = 1013 Visits
    26 May = 1231 Visits

    Is there any solution to find out exact cause of effect and gain my lost traffic. I didn’t got any message on Webmaster account.


  • http://www.fixxoo.de Avirat

    Yes and my website is in German language.

  • http://www.6packersmovers.com/packers-and-movers-delhi.html packers and movers delhi

    thanks for nice update. please not submit any spam link

  • http://twitter.com/david_frankk David Frankk

    This is surely the biggest update I have seen in a long time. A few keywords I had been targeting had low quality sites on the first page till before the update. Now, nearly the whole first page for that particular keywords has different results. All high quality and more relevant websites.

  • http://cass-hacks.com Craig

    “Most of my loss came from hiring people to do automated back-linking. I though I would be safe doing this because I was really careful with anchor text diversity, but it was not to be.”

    Well D’Uh! Really careful about dishonest SEO?

  • http://www.reviewsbytodd.com Todd Coldeen

    I feel bad for a friend of mine, I just checked out his website its pr n/a and his search queries have dropped off considerably… Im talking about a big company that is around 12 years old who was prospering in internet marketing. he must of got hit hard Im not sure if it was penguin 2.0 though because his rankings dropped in the beginning of May.

  • http://internetmarketingconsultanttexas.webs.com internet marketing dallas

    The article written very well, writing technique looked very skillful and has a good sense of humor, let a person think, and let people with a cheerful mood, the feeling is very good. I like the article, the heart be thank the authors of shares.

  • http://digitalmarketingagencydallas.webs.com marketing dallas

    I am glad after reading that post. I was searching that topic from few days its increase my knowledge.

  • http://vanillavanka.blogspot.com Riio Vanillavanka

    I think google trying to do something that is best, but may be a lot of pros and cons among certain.

  • http://www.expertsmind.com Bella johonson

    My keyword goes down poorly.

    last month I got 2 or 3 page position on SERP. But now there is no result in SERP for my keywords up to 10 pages. Can someone plz help me to get back that position.

  • http://www.keyrealtynw.com Cap City

    I use a native WP site, my home page completely disappeared from the SERP’s. Some of my blog posts are ranking (but not well). I still rank decent for my second target keyword, although it did drop a few places. At least it wasn’t completely fallen off.

    • http://www.consultancymarketing.co.uk Ian Smith

      Have you been involved in any ‘bad practices’ Cap City?
      Trying to ascertain whether all those hit by this are ‘fair’ or not.

  • vipul jaiswal

    I don’t think so, penguin is much effective for Spammy contains…
    I have seen a website http://www.krmcorporation.com have doing lots of stuffing by image & text… and using another domain…
    It’s coming always upward on SERP….

    • https://profiles.google.com/118136876707370977663/about?hl=en Henry

      For what keyword terms?

  • EV

    So many sites now back to square one

  • https://profiles.google.com/118136876707370977663/about?hl=en Henry


    It is again so much to do with the webserver I believe. We have plenty of small sites with exact match domains with few directory links and we improved our ranking since the last update. These websites has lighter database and are hosted on dedicated server.

    My recipe suggestion: Drupal website, reliable dedicated server, and share-worthy content with good on-site optimisation.

  • https://profiles.google.com/118136876707370977663/about?hl=en Henry


    It is again so much to do with the webserver I believe. We have plenty of small sites with exact match domains with few directory links and we improved our ranking since the last update. These websites has lighter database and are hosted on dedicated server.

    My recipe suggestion: Drupal website, reliable dedicated server, and share-worthy content with good on-site optimisation.

  • https://profiles.google.com/118136876707370977663/about?hl=en Henry

    your comment box is not working

  • http://www.povazanphotography.com Jozef Povazan

    Well I have no idea if penguin caused a bog drop of my blog this month but my website went up on the other side. Google needs another big competitor to calm the waters a bit I guess.

  • http://www.euro-pc.ro Elena Popescu

    thanks for nice update

  • http://www.intuitforce.com intuitforce

    I think this penguin update gives a lot of relief to those seo’s who are doing untrusted seo with sites. Every time we wait for the update of penguin but nothing big happen.

  • http://www.seobirds.com/ SEO India

    tell about 2.3% of English-US queries.

  • http://www.impetuslabs.com Raj Yadav

    I already read thousands of article about google penguin updates, we follow the instructions, site does not seems any error have checked every thing on page and off page but still website ranking is dropping day by day even we have removed some links thats seems like spam. any help would be appreciated.

  • http://shilpasharda.wordpress.com shilpa sharda

    I have seen a website and that has keywords stuffing in each web page.That website has no relative content according to the web pages that the website have.Its ranked well in search engine.Google updates regular but there are so many sites which doing black hat and raked good position in search engine.

  • sourabh