Google has confirmed that their anti-spam algorithm, Penguin, was updated for the first time in over a year on Friday 17 October. Penguin is designed to target sites that it deems to be ‘spammy’, especially those that violate Google’s guidelines about links and link building. As of yet, Google hasn’t given any indication about the percentage of search results this update has affected.
Attacked by Penguins?
This latest Penguin release has been highly anticipated by everybody in SEO. The previous Penguin update was released on October 4 2013. 56 weeks ago.
And the reason that this one has been so highly anticipated is because until it happened, none of the changes that webmasters made as a result of being impacted by the last version, would show their effect until it happened.
So if you were affected by Penguin 2.1 in 2013, and made all the necessary changes to be compliant over the next week, your site would have still been penalised until now.
What to Expect From Penguin 3.0
Well it doesn’t seem like there will be very much that’s new or different about this version of Penguin. Mostly what it means is that if you’ve run meticulous link audits over the past few months, and gone to extreme lengths to remove or disavow every single link Google could interpret as being part of a link building scheme, you should see a lift in your ranking on SERPs.
The best way forward is likely going to be following the same best practice guidelines from the previous Penguin versions and making sure that you keep a close eye on your link profile.
Some websites may see a drop in rankings without being directly affected or penalised by Google. This can be explained by Penguin causing a wide range of links to be discounted by the search engine, meaning that they will no longer be able to help your Page Rank. Another possibility could be that sites which have now recovered from their previous penalty are ranking again.
The Good, the Bad, and the Penguin
The good news from all of this is that Google has suggested that, along with this new version of Penguin, it will also have a system that allows for more regular refreshes.
However, the not so good news about this good news is that we can never be fully sure of what Google really means when it makes vague statements, so while we hope that the effects of Penguin 3.0 will be short-lived, we could also be in for another 12 month wait with greatly reduced organic traffic, whether you’ve been hit by this one, or haven’t finished cleaning up after the last one.