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Penguin 3.0: What you need to know

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Penguin 3.0, the first major Penguin update in over a year, started rolling out on October 17th. Initial reports suggested that the rollout was completed by Monday October 20th, but was debunked by a Google engineer who stated it would be a slow worldwide rollout.

Was Penguin 3.0 an actual update?

Pierre Far, the same Google engineer who stated it would be a slow rollout, also mentioned that Penguin 3.0 was a refresh not an update.

The difference is actually quite important. An ‘update’ refers to a change in how Google’s algorithm ranks websites for each search term. A ‘refresh’ is essentially rerunning the old algorithm to check for sites that are now using dodgy practices, and sites that are now clean.

Is this a big refresh?

Penguin 3.0 will only impact less than 1% of all English search queries. To put that in context, Penguin 1.0 impacted around 3.1% of English search queries, and Penguin 2.0 impacted around 2.3%.

As Penguin 3.0 is different to the other Penguin updates, a smaller impact in terms of number of sites is expected. The impact however, will be more severe in both a positive and negative direction for those sites that are affected.

What does Penguin 3.0 say about the future of search?

Penguin 3.0 conveys a very clear message. If you made past mistakes, were penalised, and cleaned up your act, you are now forgiven. On the other side of the coin, if you have ignored Google’s repeated threats and ignored its webmaster guidelines, you will get caught.

Google is trying to tell all webmasters to use white hat online marketing methods even if what they want to do is not technically ‘against the rules’.

I’ve been hit, oh s***!

Don’t panic yet. Yes, the next few weeks or months will be difficult. There will be a lot of work involved to undo what has been done.

You need to get into the mindset that you’ve managed to dodge Google’s bullets for so long now, and have been performing better than you should have.

Once you have cleaned up your site, submitted a reconsideration request, and are back to where you were, you will realise that this clean up needed to happen. Now that it’s over, doing things the right way will be much easier. You will never have to stress about another update, knowing that your rankings and visitor numbers will not suddenly disappear.

Take a look at our Google Penguin infographic for more tips on protecting your site.

By Trent Paul