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

    May 23, 2013
    Chris Crum

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.


Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.