Google Penguin Update: You May Not Be Safe Just Yet

As you may have heard, Google has launched a new Penguin update. It’s the first one in over a year, and has been anticipated pretty much since the last one. The update brings both good and bad n...
Google Penguin Update: You May Not Be Safe Just Yet
Written by Chris Crum
  • As you may have heard, Google has launched a new Penguin update. It’s the first one in over a year, and has been anticipated pretty much since the last one. The update brings both good and bad news. It’s good for those who were affected in the past, and have been waiting for a chance to recover. It’s bad for sites that may face the wrath of the new Penguin (3.0).

    Have you noticed any impact from the update so far? Good or bad? Let us know in the comments.

    The previous update was released in October 2013. A year is a really long time to wait for a chance for recovery, and Google has been heavily criticized for being so slow with Penguin. Either way, it’s here now, but it’s not finished. If you’ve not noticed any effect so far, that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear.

    Early reports from Search Engine Roundtable confirmed with Google that the update began on Friday evening, and then cited comments from Google’s John Mueller that he thought the roll-out was already complete by Monday morning. Well, that was wrong (I know. Google sending mixed messages? Never.)

    Google’s Pierre Far, which seems to be the chief webmaster updater on major algorithm changes, at least in the absence of Matt Cutts, gave an update about Penguin 3.0 indicating that it has only just begun, so don’t start resting easy just yet.

    Pierre wrote on Google+:

    On Friday last week, we started rolling out a Penguin refresh affecting fewer than 1% of queries in US English search results. This refresh helps sites that have already cleaned up the webspam signals discovered in the previous Penguin iteration, and demotes sites with newly-discovered spam.

    It’s a slow worldwide rollout, so you may notice it settling down over the next few weeks.

    There you go. This thing is going to go on for weeks. That explains why early analysis showed little disruption in data from third-party providers, as pointed out by Search Engine Journal and various others in the industry.

    As you may know, Google also recently launched a refresh to the Panda update, which was also a slow roll-out. It’s unclear if that one’s still happening. Last we heard, it was, but that was a while ago.

    Google has been teasing a new Penguin for quite some time. The discussion picked up steam in recent weeks. Google webmaster trends analyst Gary Illyes spoke at SMX East indicating the update was on its way, and that it would make webmasters’ lives easier. For most people, he reportedly said, it would be a “delight”.

    The word delight isn’t often used in the same sentence with the words Google Penguin Update, but that does give some glimmer of hope, not only for those affected by the update in the past, but for future victims, who may not have to struggle as hard to recover as the pioneers of Penguin victimhood.

    Illyes indicated that Penguin refreshes would become more frequent with the new algorithm, which would presumably put it more in line with Panda.

    He also mentioned that if you had just disavowed bad links within the past few weeks, it likely wouldn’t help you with this update. That’s not particularly great news for those who have done so, but is still helpful to know. At least the refreshes will happen more often.

    There is still some confusion as to if this current Penguin roll-out actually does work as advertised, or if these improvements will come later.

    Barry Schwartz makes the point: “Pierre said ‘refresh,’ which means to me there were no new signals added to the algorithm, that the only thing Google did was rerun the algorithm. Why couldn’t they just ‘refresh’ the algorithm several months ago is beyond me. I thought we were waiting for a major rewrite that adds more signals and makes it faster to run?”

    Far did, however, call it an “update” in the title of his post: “Penguin Update Rolling Out”. There technically is a difference between update and refresh, though I feel like they’re used interchangeably by webmasters and possibly Googlers alike sometimes, which just makes things all the more confusing.

    Cutts has explained this in the past. He compared updates to auto parts and refreshed to gas, if that helps.

    I would imagine this will be cleared up soon, but in the meantime, all we know for sure is that there is some iteration of Penguin rolling out currently, and it will be rolling out all over the world over the coming weeks. For a lot of webmasters that is probably enough for the time being.

    What do you think of Google’s new approach to Penguin? Do you expect to be delighted? Let us know in the comments.

    Image via Wikimedia Commons

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