Matt Cutts: The New Google Penguin Update Goes Much Deeper Into Your Site

    May 23, 2013
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

Google has been warning of a big and scary new version of the Penguin update for quite some time. When Google’s Matt Cutts released a video discussing the upcoming SEO menu earlier this month, he mentioned that Penguin 2.0 was getting closer. Now it’s here.

Have you been affected by the new Penguin update? Is this update good or bad for Google results? Let us know what you think in the comments.

In the aforementioned video (below), Cutts said this about the update: “We’re relatively close to deploying the next generation of Penguin. Internally we call it ‘Penguin 2.0,’ and again, Penguin is a webspam change that’s dedicated to try to find black hat webspam, and try to target and address that. 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.”

Even before that video, Cutts was discussing the update on Twitter. He pretty much said the same thing: it’s called Penguin 2.0, and it would be larger.

Late on Wednesday, Cutts revealed that the update rolled out. He took to his personal blog to say, “We started rolling out the next generation of the Penguin webspam algorithm this afternoon (May 22, 2013), and the rollout is now complete. About 2.3% of English-US queries are affected to the degree that a regular user might notice. The change has also finished rolling out for other languages world-wide. The scope of Penguin varies by language, e.g. languages with more webspam will see more impact.”

“This is the fourth Penguin-related launch Google has done, but because this is an updated algorithm (not just a data refresh), we’ve been referring to this change as Penguin 2.0 internally,” he noted. “For more information on what SEOs should expect in the coming months, see the video that we recently released.”

This does not mean that this is the last we’ll see of Penguin, by any means. When a reader of Cutts’ blog noted that he still sees a lot of spam in results, Cutts responded, “We can adjust the impact but we wanted to start at one level and then we can modify things appropriately.”

Side note: Cutts tweeted out a link to a “special spam report form” for spam that Penguin missed:

So, it sounds like they’ll still be working on Penguin-ifying results more beyond the update that has already rolled out. I presume this will come in the form of data refreshes, much like the last two version of Penguin we’ve seen.

Penguin is all about webspam, and Cutts discussed other webspam initiatives in that video. Specifically, he talked about denying value upstream for link spammers.This is not part of the Penguin update that just rolled out, so expect more there too.

“That comes later,” said Cutts.

Another reader suggested in the comments of Cutts’ blog post that people are finding it riskier to spend the time buildling authoritative sites that Google supposedly likes, because there’s still a chance that an algo update will (even if unintentionally) knock it down for one reason or another. He makes the case that it’s easier to build a bunch of “throwaway affiliate spam sites” that could easily be replaced if Google shuts them down.

Cutts’ response to that was, “We have some things coming later this summer that should help with the type of sites you mention, so I think you made the right choice to work on building authority.”

Cutts briefly discussed the new Penguin update in a conversation with Leo Laporte on Wednesday right before it was getting ready to roll out. In that, he 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.”

It will be interesting to see how long Google waits for a data refresh on Penguin again. Unlike Panda, which saw many refreshes, before ultimately transforming into a rolling update, Penguin, since originally launching in April, 2012, only saw two refreshes before this new update (May and October, 2012). If this one is even bigger, should we expect refreshes even less often? The less often they happen, the harder it is to recover, some webmasters have discovered. I’m guessing a lot of those impacted negatively by this new update will be looking at starting over with new sites.

It remains to be seen just how big the impact of this update really is on webmasters. If you’ve been affected (either positively or negatively) let us know in the comments.

  • http://www.pluginsdeveloper.com Frank

    I got my ranking back yesterday, thx google :)

    • http://www.marketingonlinept.com jorge

      i suspect that google is favouring the big name brands, i feel this beacuse i was competing for 3 years with really huge private and public companies that serve the same market and for 3 years it was possible, i believe that the online dream of yesterday is in decline, the big guns are still big online now, and there will be no space for keyword optimization coming from a non reputable well known brand.

      • http://www.infusion-labs.com Marcus

        Well of course they’re catering to the big companies. That’s been the open running platform since day one.

    • 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. Quality and informative sites will stand out and spammy ones doesn’t get visibility.

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

    Nice. I wonder how many stories like that we’ll hear.

  • http://www.internet-image.co.uk Richard

    The idea is good, but the execution so far seems poor.

    I have a client with a really superb site we have developed, yet a competitor whose link profile is obviously dire is still ranking higher.

    Google keeps saying ‘relevant content’, yet it still gives high rankings to sites with little content and a mass of seriously irrelevant links.

    As it was, so, apparently, it will always be.

    • http://www.novaimagem.co.pt Jay

      Right and “by coincidence” these sites are adwords clients,
      And what about serps pages full with the same domain, this is not spam?

      • http://www.infusion-labs.com Marcus

        Absolute power corrupts absolutely. This pig will eat all, until none is left.

    • Joseph

      I agree with you 100%! We have put plenty of good and unique content on our site, gained natural links, have plenty of social site likes, but Goole still lowered our rankings yesterday. It is true that I see so many big sites ranking well for irrelevant keyword phrases with hardly any content. So how can this be? I thought building a great site with great content is what Google wants. No they want your money for their ads because that is what they rely on for their revenue.

      • http://www.homecareeblog.com Akash

        Let us wait a little more and I sure Google is trying to give better experience for users. I agree now Google is favoring big brands too much by showing multiple pages of big brands for same search query in single page and eliminating small players from the first page.

    • http://www.htpcompany.com Tom Forrest


      I agree with you 100%.

  • http://www.spybubblefree.co Paul T

    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.


    • http://appattract.com Geoff Lord

      paying people to get back links is in my opinion now a a complete waste of time, effort and money. I put up a new site three months ago and have done everything myself manually like we used to do in “the old days” and this policy has in my case worked extremely well as My new site is now ranking on page one ahead of all of “The Big Boys” who cheat on a massive scale and have up until now always managed to escape being penalized by Google.

      Geoff Lord

  • http://seoservicesjk.com Sahib web solutions

    This 2.0 version would affect blackhat SEO.

  • http://www.azanunturi.ro serjuc

    This update has finished?thx…i can’t see any changes to my site..

  • http://www.trainingconnection.com Training Connection

    We were hit quite badly, can one only recover from Penguin once the next update to Penguin is done? Does that mean sites could be affected for extended periods say 6 months?

  • http://twitter.com/NashRyker Nash Vega Ryker

    So far my rankings seem to be ok as well. I’m glad to hear that this update now goes page by page instead of affecting an entire site at once.

    Thanks for the updates Chris!

  • Alex

    I paid an SEO company (which claimed to be impervious to Google updates) thousands to get me on the upper front page of Google. After this latest update, my ranking has gone from #4 to # 22.

    Is there any hope of some recovery in ranking any time soon? Or is this update all done, and settled?

    • http://www.e12monthloans.org.uk/ Neil Browne

      You have thrown to 3rd page there is recovery for that but please avoid the purchase of links..

  • http://www.premierhomeownersinsurance.com Morgan Moran

    We have seen improvements with our rankings since yesterday. Still hitting the filter with certain pages. I’m hoping it doesn’t take another 6 months to launch the next big update that gets you our of the filter.

  • http://Www.thenet.ie Scott graham

    There are still websites ranking on google who are using linking techniques to gain market share . The sooner penguin is running the same as panda the better.

  • http://www.marketingonlinept.com jorge

    My website dropped to second page, after 3 years of dominating the serp´s on my country.this time i did used the link disavow tool, as i believe it was some competition doing spam links to my website.
    But the funny thing is that i suspect that google is favouring the big name brands, i feel this beacuse i was competing for 3 years with really huge private and public companies that serve the same market and for 3 years it was possible, i believe that the online dream of yesterday is in decline, the big guns are still big online now, and there will be no space for keyword optimization coming from a non reputable well known brand.
    The good news is that the searches for my brand have improved its exposure on serp, thats why i think this will only benefit big brands across different market and business sectors.The websites from the big brands that we “compete” with have gradually risen the serp´s as the new “algo” updates started.
    Do you think thats the main purpose of all this updates and g bombs?
    Keep the big offline guys still big online?

    • http://www.grupoalianzaempresarial.com Angel

      It’s not only the small brands dropped, big brands too.

  • http://magentohosting.nl Nico – Magento Hosting

    Google’s Panda en Pinguin updates forces us to be better marketers. It forces us to write quality content in exchange for backlinks. Maybe thats why most valuable content can be found free on the internet. Maybe this is Google’s way on making the internet a bit opener… and ofcourse a bit more difficult :)

  • Randy Fox

    Cutts is a pompous gimp. Google spies on people, doesn’t pay taxes, is working for Bilderbrand. These nerds they hire try to justify their overblown salaries by coming up with stupid algorithms like Panda, Penguin I mean what moron comes up with these high school names? Their programs hurt small business, you would need a staff of lawyers to interpret their guidelines. A logical mway to regulate low quality sites would be if a used tire dealer has 20.000.00 links coming in it’s phony Duh.If I site sends out 100K e-mails a day take a look. Google seems the think websites should be like the bible or Gone With The Wind. If your a small business you don’t have time for a masterpiece. The problem is the highly paid nerds at Google have never had a business or ran a business. They know nothing except to sit in their little cubicle and try to excel by damaging small business. Then have the audacity to buy adwords~! Give me a break! Bing and Yahoo are climbing in search engine audience every week. Plus with Google you have to be extorted by them to get ranking. Nerd thugs

    • http://growmap.com/farmer-update-google-competitors/ Gail Gardner

      Penguins and Pandas are black and white. Think about that and you’ll realize why they named the updates that way. Google’s CEO openly told us that they favor big brands. Every update moves us more in that direction. It should be no surprise to anyone by now.

      Panda did not do what the spin claims it did; it slapped Google competitors. Every update will take away more and more of the best converting keyword phrases. You either have to find new phrases that have not yet been broad matched. That is very hard to do if the businesses involved have been using AdWords for years.

      Buying AdWords ads is not a great solution because of distribution fraud and selectively raising bids during critical sales periods.

      The bad news is there is nothing that converts like search and Google has a monopoly on both paid and organic search. Nothing to do but get over and do 100s or 1000s of other things to get traffic from other sources and increase conversions.

  • Irina johnsten667

    good article ya google

  • http://www.belfast-architects.co.uk Alan

    When I use Google often up comes a list of directory type sites topping the search. Is this what Google sees as quality? If I want Yell, then I will type Yell. If I want a local garden centre, then I want a list of local garden centres, not sites in which I do a further search.

    I find Bing and other search engines better. Growing discontent, adverse news coverage, perhaps Google has peaked and is in slow and steady decline? Decline is very hard to stop if it sets in.

  • http://bestmoviesevernews.com/ Curt

    Thanks for the Penguin update and breakdown to better understand it.

    I’ve noticed the times that we’ve tried to follow exactly everything that Google wants, we’ve not done so well in SERPs. It was when I realized to just focus on the content and not stressing about Google that we did way better.

    With Bing being so aggressive now and slowly eating up more of the search market, it’s wise to realize that solely focusing on Google isn’t always the smartest thing to do. Eventually other competitors like Bing will begin surpassing them so putting all your eggs in the G basket could wind up hurting you in the long run.

  • Nicole

    Google is greedy, it’s obvious. And Google is killing small business… but thanks god we have Bing. Keep calm and use Bing and ask your friends to use Bing or Duckduckgo instead of greedy Google.

  • http://www.tastythailand.com Rachel

    Same garbage on top of Google as before — that’s why I now use Bing for everything :)

    My sites unaffected in search except Google AdSense earnings have dropped like a rock. I’m switching to Media.net at the end of the month. They pay a lot more now. Hell, even Chitika does better for me than AdSense.

    And yes, like someone else said, Google still favoring all the big brand names and all the spam sites that paid for links. That’s why I didn’t even bother following Google’s supposed ‘rules’ before this update. No point. Google is lying about what they want and Matt Cutts is nothing more than a paid professional liar. No change there :)

  • http://www.bloodygoodgames.com Rachel

    I highly recommend ignoring Google and concentrating on Yahoo and Bing instead as this is where the traffic is going to start coming from. Nobody I know uses Google anymore as, why would you. It’s all spam sites and big brands at the top. Even more so since yesterday’s update.

    BTW, just a hint for everyone, if you haven’t signed up for Bing Webmaster Tools do so. I signed up just two weeks ago, and have already seen a 20 percent increase in traffic to my sites from Bing. It’s a much better tool than Google’s webmaster and, as Bing traffic is increasing worldwide monthly and Google’s is dropping, it’s going to be far more important to use than Google’s pathetic tools pretty soon, IMO.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3VQjxyjy7w Pov

    This Google updates will affect at page level while previous update target homepage level only. It is the time that every marketers, webmasters and business owners focus more on creating a really high value content that touch people live so that they want to share it throughout the web, however, great content is not enough without effective outreach strategies such as guest blogging, email marketing, social media and forum engagement.

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/108629021382837771966 Kyle Sanders

    While this iteration is better than the first, there’s still a ton of terrible websites ranking well. What’s worse, is the number of atrocious websites ranking #1 for nationwide search terms.

    Joe Karate and his website from 1998 deserve to rank #1 because he can’t optimize a page and his only links are from when Yodle ripped him off for a handful of citations?

    Want to take a market? Get an EMD, build a few citations, guest blog twice, half-ass your optimization, and wait for a Penguin data refresh.

  • http://wpappdeveloper.com/ Robert

    Its all about spammer, we should follow organic SEO technique.

  • http://arvixehostingreview.org Michael

    There are always businesses who end up suffering every time Google puts out a new and/or major algorithm change. And no, it doesn’t mean they are necessarily “spammy” sites either. Regardless, there are always sites (both spammy and non-spammy) that will get hit, while others will slip through the cracks. As Google is king in the search industry, there’s not much we can do but hope that Yahoo or Bing steps their game up in the coming years to actually “challenge” the big G.

  • Sam

    No body is going to dominate front page for a long time, there are exceptions like Big brands. You work hard and get rank but Big “G” will make a big mess with your hard work. Branding with seo is a myth. If you are doing black hat or white hat, it doesn’t matter. If you are ranking well today, you’ll be drop tomorrow. Don’t get so excited. Once you hit, you can’t get in to front page ever. This is a real pain in back. After all this is temporary world :)

  • Lorillia|Your Money Mentor

    Hi, My client’s site got penalty from this update. I do not know the exact cause, I was creating backlinks from relevant and non-relevant Blogs only, but last week I did some bookmarking with blog-commenting.

    Now my client wants to know why we got the penalty!! Please give me some ideas on how to recover from this penalty? I am looking for the answer!!

  • http://www.knightrealm.com Mick Lehr

    These updates are aimed at spam websites.

  • Jignesh

    I was just reviewing the quality of search result after Google’s penguin 2.0 algorithm update which was rolled out yesterday.

    What i observed is, rather than displaying actual service providers, they started giving more priority to informative websites like forums and other micro blogging domains, social media websites etc. You can see the best example in this image which shows screen-shot of Google US search result on “Magento Development Company”.

    In my surprise, Google is displaying first result of forum post, second is “exact match query domain”, 5th and 6th are from slideshare and tumblr !! what a crap.

    If i am searching for “Magento Development Company”, i should landed on website or webpage of a company which is offering magento development services !

    Checkout this screenshot: https://fbcdn-sphotos-c-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn2/168289_10151506537383229_380634789_n.jpg

    This is not a one case, i found same results in different industries for different keywords. They have included Linkedin, facebook, blogspot, and such other results which are not relevant.


    I admit that they are working hard since last couple of month to remove spam result from their organic search but i also feel that, by removing actual service providers from top result, they are encouraging them to goto use their Adword services.

    Kindly share your feedback guys !!

  • Peter

    It’s actually becoming more apparent to me that Bing is providing more relevant & accurate search results, these updates are actually killing Googles accurate search results, it wasn’t that long ago that when you searched for something on Google it provided a relevant result, sure there would be some Spam results in there as well, but they always ranked lower and you tended to ignore them. With these new updates even if you include the keywords and the name of the site you still get other irrelevant sites appearing first and sometimes even the first 2 results, the bigger sites/companies are appearing first, what is Google thinking with this? I have seen Bing results provide good quality search results time after time.

  • http://www.vendecar.es/ Paul Axford

    A good article, thanks. We have been hit badly.
    Vendecar.es is a highly popular used car portal covering Spain and in Spanish. We have always hovered around position 4 for the main key phrases. We don’t employ Spam – we don’t need to.
    Now disaster strikes – we are off the first page on all keywords with our main phrase at position 15. We have had no warnings or messages from Google of any sort.
    Does anybody actually know if it is possible to recover? Can recovery only happen after a refresh (which may take 6 months)?
    If a reasonably quick recovery (doing whatever it takes) is not possible then I presume we will go out of business.
    I notice, however, that our main competitor (a much larger European portal) have improved to position 1 on all keywords.
    Is there a conspiracy against the smaller firms such as ourselves? We have a lot of very worried people here in the office who are scared they will lose their jobs – because of another Google update.
    And we have done nothing wrong (that we know of) and follow the guidelines closely. The site is full of great content and widely used until now.
    Google have too much power – and although I agree with what they seem to be doing to cut Spam I also think they should learn how to do it by firing their guns at the more obvious spammy zones first before damaging the real world.

    • Muhammad Imran

      Hi Pual,

      Why are you worry? I’m here to guide you please contact at my skype for free advice skype:muhammad.imran8000


  • http://goo.gl/QXa01 Valeska

    I was wondering how to improve my business. Then I finally visit this blog, i found something interesting and helps me to understand my way to improve my business. Great blog!

  • http://www.punjabihungama.com/ Ravi

    Hello Sir,
    i have lost my traffic when Penguin 2.0 is update.

    on may 22 and site traffic goes down. from 2 days i have lost 40 % traffic from search… kindly help me

  • http://www.arcanemotif.com arcane motif

    nice post… i liked it…

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    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.

    • http://www.autoinsuresavings.net/ Greg Fowler


      This disavow tool is for those which couldn’t remove the link which they believe is doing more harm than good. If it is a poor site the other sites with links on there possibly could be affected or may have. I don’t know. Another good reason to watch your backlinks carefully!

  • http://www.technokrats.in/ Technokrats

    I think the update has not hit Asia yet, there are no major changes in serp. Hope to see a positive impact with this update!

  • http://www.balcovaklima.com Balçova Klima

    Thanks the post.

  • http://www.googleredirectvirus.net/ Nick Terracciano

    Google rules and there is no way around it, sticking by their rules those sites will prosper at least until they change the rules, then those sites will again sink like a stone, they are the rulers of search engines and tax avoidance.

  • Nicola Cairncross

    My traffic has nearly doubled at my totally non-spam authority site I’ve been building for a couple of years now and I wondered what was causing it – started a few days before the official roll-out date though…I am delighted at my hard work and white hat seo paying off at last!

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

    I don’t care how deep the 2.0 penguin might go, if only it is targeting webspam. It will be disastrous if for any reason it affects website that have genuinely been building their authority and doing white SEO

  • http://tutorsforless.ca Tutors Toronto

    Very true. This affects small business. Seo companies are trying to offer 1k per month to be on top of Google results. Who has that kind of money when you a small business. Bing is slowly creeping up as but it would take about 5 years before bing gets even close to google.

  • http://www.customcorvetteaccessories.com/ Chip

    No impact here

  • Marcie

    As I see it the monopoly on the big brand stores is not valuable to consumers on the first page as there always up in your face and if we wanted them im sure we could remember their names, we are obviously looking for something new. It seems that with google we have to rifle through all of the high end stores to get what we want and thats why so many are moving on. As a site owner, we sometimes need to pay for directories to get found, I hope google dosnt want to take that option away being seen as spammy. I think many of us are disregarding googles demands and are going with shopping search platforms like “The Find” , which is free and Shopzilla which is still cheaper than google merchants. If google needs the money that bad to stay afloat, we need to worry about their future anyway. I say quit worrying about conforming and place your links where people are looking for your services : )

  • http://www.mystoragecabinets.com Don Minus

    If you were successful in the past and stayed white hat and after this latest update your searches dropped 40-50%, I would recommend changing all your search habits as well as telling your family and friends search habits to go Bing and Yahoo. I have an issue of the SERPS being a glorified yellow pages for the big box companies, time to make a change.

  • http://www.w3sols.com/ Simo

    I don’t see any effect on my some keywords but some of my keywords rank well or rank on 1 page from the 3 page after the latest google pengin 2.0 and I feel that penguin 2.0 effect only on spamming or low authority sites or who using duplicate content. I want to know that is there any chance to overcome from penguin effect who sites effect by penguin.

  • http://cstrohmeyer.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/led-reef-aquarium-lighting-google-adwords-fail/ Carl

    Matt Cutts seems to be in some kind of reality show where the winner is who can be the most dishonest person in America.

    I have now documented (with new software) several cases of invalid clicks in my Adwords.
    One of my most popular and often plagiarized articles was once again plagiarized by one of Google’s favs (I will not mention this site here, since they did finally comply with legal demands and credit my site).
    HOWEVER Google still recognizes this website for my content (when specific unique phrases are searched) and my site is now missing off of Google (still number one for “Aquarium UV Sterilization” on Bing, DuckDuckGo and others.

    Then today, a friend who also writes aquarium help websites decided to try Google Adwords and was charged large amounts per click for what Google calls poor relevancy when in fact this web page could not be more relevant for the term he was seeking: “Reef LED Aquarium Lighting”
    My name links to a post I made after he emailed me about his experience