Google Penguin 3.0 – first analysisOctober 18, 2014
Today, October 18th 2014; one year and 2 weeks after Penguin 2.1, we’ve finally got a new, fresh Penguin 3.0!
This time, the update wasn’t as obvious as Penguin 2.1. I believe it rolled out slower and didn’t hit some websites as hard as the last one. This meant there was a lot of doubt in the SEO community as to whether it is really Penguin.
— Christoph C. Cemper (@cemper) October 18, 2014
— Dejan SEO (@dejanseo) October 18, 2014
Penguin 3.0 Recoveries
There is quite a lot of recovery samples all across the internet. I will focus on just one that I can share (got the green light from the owners).
The website was hit with Penguin 2.0 and then with 2.1. I have worked on this website for a few months now and managed to triple their visibility in SearchMetrics. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get any higher because of Penguin. Now, the site seems to have recovered to an extent.
- Recovery is visible because of the 100s of keywords going up and which almost flooded my position checker.
- Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like the site has fully recovered yet, as our expectations were much higher. Its either Penguin 3.0 is still rolling, or the website didn’t recover as good as we expected.
- Some keywords plummeted in rankings totally.
Sites penalized – examples
Some examples of sites hit with Penguin 3.0 (negative impact)
So far, I’ve counted around ~50 sites deeply affected by Penguin 3.0. Recoveries of my Penguin customers, just as well as affiliate sites and spammy sites. I am working on a group analysis of all the websites I’ve managed to gather so far. Soon, I will publish all the findings here and also on www.linkresearchtools.com.
SearchMetrics – losers
- Googlers mentioned a few times that the next Penguin updates will be rolled out on a monthly basis (just like Panda).
- From the few websites I saw already, I wonder if Penguin will also be applied on a page level instead of domain level (it was like that so far). Some of my findings confirm this, but it is most likely just a coincidence.
- 90% of people mentioned that they are really disappointed with this Penguin. Most likely because the “spam” tolerance is much higher than many expected.
- It didn’t fix the negative SEO problem (again Penguin hit the negative SEO websites, including my “Kumar negative SEO” customers).
Overall, I hope it is still rolling or that maybe they will create some backdoor for small business owners hit with real negative SEO (for example Kumar’s directories etc.). So far, Penguin got most of the spammiest sites, but guys doing “some” black hat, are still doing fine.
Update – October 21st 2014
Before the Penguin 3.0 release, we heard a lot about Penguin being updated on a monthly basis. Unfortunately, today’s hangout with John Mueller didn’t confirm this information.
Later in the discussions, John mentioned that the holiday season is coming, and he is not expecting any major updates during that time.
Later in the discussions, he also mentioned that he is not expecting any further updates till the beginning of next year.
In my opinion, John Mueller wasn’t informed about the update and it seemed like he is a little bit confused with the questions. Pierre Far confirmed it for me in his Google Plus announcement today.
So we’ve got two statements now, one from John Mueller and one from Pierre Far. I believe that Pierre wanted to correct John Mueller’s answer from yesterday’s hangout.
In my opinion, Googlers are not too happy with the scale of Penguin 3.0 and will run it again with a stronger “threshold” this time. Matt Cutts mentioned a few times that they read black hat forums after releasing new algorithms. Imagine Matt Cutts (or whoever has taken his place now) reading a “So why I survived in Penguin 3.0?” post on www.blackhatworld.com.
Therefore, I would expect Google to push the red button again quite soon with a stronger threshold this time
Updated October 18th 2014Finally – it’s live! Penguin 3.0 was rolled out today. A lot of interesting observations so far. I would say it was much milder than the last one. Many SEOs are really disappointed with the scale.Updated October 2nd 2014
There is a lot of Penguin gossip before SMX East. Now we got a confirmed info from Gary Illyes – Webmaster Trends Analyst and Search Quality Engineer at Google.
Penguin 3.0 will be released frequently and should be more user and webmaster friendly than recent ones. Of course release date is not sure yet (we got used to that already). It depends if the new algorithm is actually going to work well.
Anyways finger crossed again. Within 2 days, we are going to have 1 year anniversary of Penguin 2.1. Quite a long time to keep webmasters waiting!
Updated July 21st 2014
I came across an intersting question at the English Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangout.
The question was posed by Karl Baxter:
If Google has decided not to use the Penguin algorithm ever again, would Google re-run one last time to help the sites affected that have cleaned up or would the penguin hit site be affected forever?
Also, later in the resulting conversation, John Mueller confirmed (~24th minute) that Google is working on speeding up the process of releasing Penguin 3.0.
Updated June 24th 2014
Since April 3rd 2014 when I originally wrote this post a lot has changed. Obviously, Penguin 3.0 was not released.
Now everyone is a little bit confused. For the first time in 2 years we have gone 9 months without a Penguin update. Most people keep on asking me “when it is going to be released then?“.
To even start thinking about the Penguin release date, we need to think about WHY it wasn’t released in the 2nd quarter of the year as usual.
Why wasn’t Penguin 3.0 released?
To answer this question let me go back in time a little bit.
Google before Penguin 1.0
Before Penguin 1.0 Google was a paradise land for black hat sites. If you had the right technique, it wasn’t easy to get your site penalized (with a manual penalty). There was more and more software created by and for black hat reasons (one of the first being Scrapebox). Google started to fill with SPAM.
Google’s solution to SPAM overflowing the SERPS – the Penguin algorithm targeting unnatural linking patterns.
How does the Penguin Algorithm work?
The answer is simple – nobody knows that precisely, but there are some known things I would like to point out:
- It is not a human driven algorithm
- It is based on links
- It does not inform website owners about being influenced by Penguin
- It only decreases the rankings of a website (of course you can go up on the Penguin date, but only if a site above you was affected negatively by the update)
- It is not a penalty, it is an algorithm (according to the Googlers)
- You can’t recover quickly from the ranking decrease (I am trying to avoid the work penalty)
What does this all mean for an average webmaster?
There are more than 150 million domains in Google’s index with billions of pages. Even if the Penguin Algorithm is really fine-tuned (it is not, in my opinion) there will be some false positives and negatives. Let me prove it to you.
Imagine for a second that you got to release an algorithm taking all the spam out of the Search Results. With billions of pages and millions of domains, it is impossible to be 100% sure that guys working hard on their sites and providing great content are not going to be affected. Lets say that a 3% “loss” is acceptable for Google. With ~ 150 million domains in the index, that is 4.5 million domains out of Google search results.
What if the Penguin Algorithm is perfect?
Let me give you a few examples proving this:
- I had a few extremely spammed black hat sites that “survived” Penguin 2.1. In my logic, if there are false positives, there are false negatives, too.
- Probably most of you didn’t ever use Black Hat tools. I think that Matt Cutts and his engineers didn’t either. This is something really interesting for them:
Most black hats believe that a perfect article for submission is one with links to a black hat domain AND TO THE AUTHORITY domain in a given field!
3. Negative SEO. I have customers being blackmailed by a guy from India to pay $2000 – $3000 for removing the links from his network of spam directories. He seems to be popular as most of the Link Research Tools certified guys I know worked on at least 1 site affected by that guy’s actions. Googlers seem to underestimate negative SEO and treat it as an excuse of people spamming for results. They are right, in probably 90% of cases.
4. SEO agencies lying to people about White Hat links they are creating. This is in my opinion the most popular reason for websites failing in Google during updates. Trust me, it is not easy to find an SEO agency doing really safe SEO work. If you don’t believe me, Google “SEO agency” and check the average link profile and on-page optimization of the agencies listed in the top 10.
There was some gossip and noise recently that Google may be holding Penguin updates for few months to tweak the algorithm a little bit. In the meantime, they will focus on the “Payday loan algorithm” and Panda. Now this is really funny too, as I had a lot of really cool sites (that I would recommend to my mother) hit with Panda recently.
Now let’s go back to the main subject.
When is Penguin 3.0 coming?
After all the recent craziness, it is hard to say. One thing is sure – I see more and more spammy results in really competitive niches. Google will have to deal with that and finally “release” that new Penguin 3.0 or 2.2.
Whenever they will do it, it is not going to be perfect again, as this is not possible on such a scale. Also – I highly doubt that they will inform or help webmasters to deal with the new Penguin. This would mean too much work and money for them.
What to do?
To be “Penguin Safe” I would focus on a detailed link audit for my domain(s) and then closely monitor all the new links on a daily/weekly basis (e.g. with Link Alerts).
If you want to be “Panda Safe”, of course optimize your on-page SEO, kill all the duplicate content within your domain that you can find and be really obsessed with delivering a mind-blowing user experience.
Most of you have probably got SEO experience if you’ve made it to this point of this post. If not, you can always use my services to Penguin/Panda proof your website.
End of update
Original post below
I’ve never had any kind of “abracadabra” or “I know some Google leaks” or “Matt Cutts is my uncle” etc. kind of post… This is my first crazy SEO post!
No matter whether you’re a black hat or white hat SEO guy, the Penguin Algorithm is one of the most interesting pieces of news in the SEO community. Mostly because it is so secret.
Of course, all the white hats will tell you that they couldn’t care less – “My SEO is so clean that I was never worried“; all the black hats will say – “for each penalized domain, we will buy 10 new ones.”
It is all a lie.
We all care. And we are all a little bit nervous before, during and after Penguin updates. Till this day, nobody has a clear explanation of what the exact Penguin factor metrics are. Especially for Penguin 2.0 and 2.1.
There are a few people in the SEO community claiming to have a perfect (but secret) SEO technique that is going to rank your site, which just happens to be “penguin proof“, too. We even have a special name for those guys – “crazy lunatics”.
Let me give you an example. The search query below might sound funny to some of you, but believe me, there are a lot of people buying such services…
After looking at all those offers, I’ve decided to write about something crazy, too.
I KNOW THE DATE OF NEXT PENGUIN!
Finally – I had to tell somebody! 😉
If you are not sure if I am first – here is the proof:
I don’t only base my knowledge on the fact that I have been severely sleep-deprived over the last few weeks. I base it also on logic and math. In our agency, we try to stay on top of things and we’ve also got software engineers. Google has Navneet Panda responsible for their Panda Algorithm, we’ve got Lukasz Kolec. After months of data processing, he’s come up with the Penguin 3.0 release date!
He came up with a simple enough idea about the Penguin release schedule based on previous Penguin release dates. Now – here comes some really complex math, so focus!
April 24th 2012 – Penguin 1.0
May 25th 2012 – Penguin 1.1
October 5th 2012 – Penguin #3
May 22nd 2013 – Penguin 2.0
October 4th – Penguin 2.1
The dates above are known to everyone. There is one thing that Łukasz figured out by staring at those release dates for many long hours…
April 24th 2012 – Penguin 1.0 – BETA
May 25th 2012 – Penguin 1.1 – Penguin 1.0
October 5th 2012 – Penguin #3 – Penguin 1.1
May 22nd 2013 – Penguin 2.0 – Penguin 2.0
October 4th – Penguin 2.1 – Penguin 2.1
Quick explanation of this hypothesis.
If we would look at Penguin 1.0 as at BETA, and Penguin 1.1 would be Penguin 1.0, then the pattern is really clear and Penguin 3.0 should be launched at the date I stated below…
We all know that updates happen during the weekend. I am only guessing that this is because Googlers can go home and come back on Monday when the dust settles after all the mess in serps. There may be no reason for that, either. I mean, it’s Google – you never know
Anyways, if we take a look at the dates above again, the date for Penguin 3.0 is quite clear…
May 23rd 2014 – the Penguin 3.0 release date!
So,any thoughts on that? Please comment below
ahhh, almost forgot – remember to warn your friends via your favorite social media!