What once seemed so close now seems so far. In other words, for some SEOs and webmasters who have been patiently (or impatiently in some cases) waiting, that glimpse of a light at the end of the tunnel has just faded from view. It's possible that its visibility is just being clouded and that the light is still close, but things just got a lot darker.
We're talking of course about Penguin. Perhaps this is a little dramatic, but it's clear from reactions around the web that people are growing more and more frustrated the longer Google takes to push out the update it has been promising for so long.
Are you anxiously awaiting Google's next Penguin, or have you simply moved on with your life? Discuss.
Penguin will turn 4 years old this April. The update has been the bane of many SEOs' and webmasters' existence for all this time, and things really haven't gotten a whole lot better for some of them, despite promises from Google.
The reason the update exists - to fight webspam - is important, and it's certainly a problem that needed to be addressed in Google's search results, but there's hardly been a consensus on how well it's been executed, and a great deal of frustration has lingered, largely due to how hard it can be to recover from getting hit by the update, even when the necessary changes have been made to a site.
The reason it is so hard to recover is that Google refreshes Penguin so infrequently. Affected sites must wait until Google releases Penguin again before they can recover, and that could take months. If you're trying to run a business and rely on Google for traffic, it can feel like an eternity, and that's exactly how it's currently feeling for some.
Google said back in June that it was working on a new version of Penguin that will run continuously (meaning webmasters and SEOs won't have to wait for long periods of time for a chance to recover). At the time, they indicated this would be months off. The last Penguin update had been launched the previous Q4.
In November, Google confirmed the update will be a "huge" change, but in December, they said “With the holidays upon us, it looks like the penguins won’t march until next year.”
It was interesting that they cited the holidays as having something to do with it because after that it was expected to come in January (following the holidays), but that didn't happen either. Google did, however, say last month that the updated timeframe on Penguin was now "this quarter".
Now, even that's questionable. We're not halfway through February, and Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Roundtable points to a tweet from Google's Gary Illyes indicating that he has no idea if the Penguin update is still likely to come this quarter.
@mrjamiedodd I haven't talked to the engineers for some time, I don't know.
— Gary Illyes (@methode) February 12, 2016
It's worth noting that Illyes isn't actually on the team that works on Penguin even if he generally serves as one of the main messengers to webmasters.
If this uncertainty wasn't enough, Schwartz points to another tweet from Google's Zineb Ait, who now says they're aiming the roll-out at "as soon as it is ready," and who knows when that will be?
@alekseo It is still work in progress at the moment. I can't tell when it will be rolled out. We are aiming at: "as soon as it is ready"
— Zineb Ait (@Missiz_Z) February 16, 2016
Will it make this quarter? Will it make Penguin's 4th birthday in April? Will it make it this year?
How do webmasters feel about this continued delay? Well, suffice it to say, we're seeing expletives thrown around pretty loosely.
When do you think Google will finally push out this update? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Image via Wikimedia Commons