After months of waiting, the most recent update to Google’s Penguin algorithm went into effect at the end of last week. It’s been a year since Google last updated Penguin, so there was a lot of anticipation around this release. As is usually the case with Google’s algorithms, not a whole lot is known for certain about what has changed and how it will affect websites. Though much remains unknown about Penguin 3.0, there’s enough information available to let business owners what they should be on guard for when it comes to their search rankings
Google first released Penguin back in the distant past of 2012. Penguin is an accompanying algorithm to Panda. Whereas Panda handles search queries and keywords, Penguin is related to how the backlink profile of a site is factored into the search engine results. It’s goal is to reduce webspam and improve the quality of search by finding sites that are trying to deceptively use backlinks to make their site look more useful to Google than it really is.
“On Friday last week, we started rolling out a Penguin refresh affecting fewer than 1% of queries in US English search results,” wrote Pierre Far in a Google+ post. “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.”
Far’s comments point to one of the biggest advantages of the Penguin update for website owners. Many of the sites that had been penalized by the last Penguin update had yet to regain their rankings after they had fixed the issues with their backlinks. The refresh will give these sites a chance to have the penalty rescinded. And as was mentioned in another article on this site, it appears Google plans to refresh the Penguin 3.0 data more often, so sites won’t have to wait a year before they can recover from a Google penalty.
Because Penguin deals with a mechanic that’s easier for algorithms to understand, the Penguin 3.0 launch is global. Other rollouts for Google updates and services normally take time as each is tailored for specific languages. Backlink structure can be analyzed with fewer language barriers, so the worldwide rollout is faster. However, it will still be a few weeks until Google is completely finished with the Penguin 3.0 launch.
It’s too early to know who the winners and losers are from this most recent update. Depending on the site, the update can either hurt or help the site’s ranking. For sites that are still using outdated link building strategies, Penguin 3.0 may negatively affect their rankings in search.
Google doesn’t give a list of things the new update will be on guard for, lest webmasters search for a way to circumvent them. But for those who have been paying attention to the decrees from Google employees during the past year, there are a few things that may make a site stick out as targets for penalties.
Examples of things not to do that were recently mentioned in the news are:
Guest blogging on unrelated sites or sticking links irrelevant to that particular site into the author’s description
The Penguin 3.0 update is another reminder why its so important to have a website checked regularly for SEO issues. As the three examples above show, actions that were once considered smart SEO practices are now considered black hat and will get a site penalized. If business owners notice that their site’s ranking start to go down over the next few weeks, the Penguin update is the most likely culprit.
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