In a continued effort to clean up the Internet and rid search results of low quality, spammy links, Google has released another algorithm update to its Penguin filter.
The holiday release, confirmed by Google, launched a series of new updates to Penguin that will continue to penalize brands using black-hat SEO techniques to increase authority online through external links. The update began in late October but continued to roll out over the following weeks through December. Surprisingly, Google has remained quiet about the update despite more than a year since their last rollout.
The good news is that Penguin 3.0 seems to have only affected about 1% of English language queries, and if you’re sticking to ethical SEO practices you may have an opportunity to increase rankings. The bad news is that Google keeps marketers in the dark when it comes to total factors that influence Penguin’s effects on search rankings. How much your site is impacted will depend on your industry, current rankings, and competitors you’re sharing the SERP with. Your best defense is to watch Google closely and monitor analytics for drops in traffic and page rankings.
This new update has been said to only be a refresh of the previous algorithm with no new signals added. The bottom line is that if you are already monitoring the effects of Penguin on your brand’s search results and promoting your content with white hat SEO, keep at it. Down the road we expect to see more major updates to the Penguin filter to increase the speed and reach of search ranking adjustments.
Below is a list of the changes to Google Penguin to date. Some point number updates are still waiting to be confirmed by Google, but have been validated by publisher reports.
- Penguin 1.0 on April 24, 2012 (impacting ~3.1% of queries)
- Penguin 1.1 on May 26, 2012 (impacting less than 0.1%)
- Penguin 1.2 on October 5, 2012 (impacting ~0.3% of queries)
- Penguin 2.0 on May 22, 2013 (impacting 2.3% of queries)
- Penguin 2.1 on Oct. 4, 2013 (impacting around 1% of queries)
- Penguin 3.0 on October 17, 2014 (impacting around 1% of queries)
- Penguin 3.1 on November 27, 2014 (confirmed by Google, no impact given, Google considers part of Penguin 3.0)
- Penguin 3.2 on December 2, 2014 (not confirmed by Google but based on publisher reports)
- Penguin 3.3 on December 5, 2014 (not confirmed by Google but based on publisher reports)
- Penguin 3.4 on December 6, 2014 (not confirmed by Google but based on publisher reports)
This global roll out will continue to help control spammy inbound links on low quality websites. We can expect to see another round of changes to Penguin soon, so keep a close eye on your digital assets and external links. Leverage Google Analytics and tools such as Majestic SEO to track external links and monitor obstacles and opportunities.
Establish a monthly process to inspect link quality to avoid future drops in search engine rankings and maintain a quality digital presence. And keep a close eye on your inbound and content marketing strategie — new updates may be just around the corner.