P-p-p-predicting a Google Penguin update

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PenguinIt wasn’t long ago that we were looking at the Google Pigeon algorithm to see how it has changed the landscape of the search engine giant’s local search results. But talk in the SEO industry has quickly turned to a possible Google Penguin update.

To ensure you are prepared should Google Penguin 3.0 launch imminently, Mediaworks has put together this guide about the algorithm.

What is Google Penguin?

Before we delve into what Google Penguin 3.0 could entail, it’s a good idea to get a clear understanding of the algorithm as a whole.

The original Penguin update launched on April 24th 2012. Its arrival had been speculated in the weeks beforehand, with predictions that Google was to release a penalty against over-optimised content.

The Penguin algorithm did just that. Websites found to have factors considered spam, such as content with examples of keyword stuffing, were punished. Moz estimated that 3.1 per cent of English queries were adjusted as a result.

Just over a year later on May 22nd 2013, Google brought out Penguin 2.0. This update was more finely targeted to the page level, resulting in questionable backlinks that escaped punishment from Penguin 1.0 this time being caught.

Google Penguin teams up with Google Panda in the fight against black-hat SEO tactics. While Panda focusses on spotting and penalising websites with low-quality content, Penguin is on the lookout for sites that use unnatural or irrelevant backlinks.

Why the speculation?

Timing is one of the reasons why there is a lot of chatter surrounding a Google Penguin update. There is a pattern of a Penguin algorithm refresh arriving around every six months, but there’s been nothing since October 2013, in which time Google has launched Payday Loan 2.0 and 3.0 (algorithms targeting spam queries), Panda 4.0 and Pigeon.

However, the speculation isn’t all based on calendar trends. Google Webmaster Trends analyst John Mueller was asked by @edwardjohnnash if he feels Penguin 3.0 will be out this year in an office hours hangout video (check it at 54:45 below). He responded: “My guess is yes. But, as always, there are always things that can happen in-between. I’m pretty confident we’ll have something in the reasonable future, but not today, so we’ll definitely let you know when things are happening.”

Even Matt Cutts, head of the Webspam team at Google, has had his say. During a Q&A on Twitter with Marketing Land and Search Engine Land Founding Editor Danny Sullivan, he was asked about updates regarding Penguin. While not going as far as to reveal Penguin 3.0, Cutts did point out that an engineer had said it was probably time for a refresh of the algorithm, to which he agreed.

How to prepare?

Our SEO Consultant Joaquín Morales is also confident that Google Penguin 3.0 will be with us by the end of 2014. He encourages people to prepare by considering the possible pros and cons the update will bring.

On one hand, there is a chance that the algorithm refresh will result in a company getting their detox actions achieved faster. On the other, low-competency niches that have not been targeted from Penguin so far could soon be affected.

Some collateral effects for sites deemed ‘not guilty’ could occur as well. To avoid this being a problem, I advise more importance to be placed on creating content that send signals from social media — infographics, for example. A well-planned site architecture is also strongly encouraged.

Keep an eye on our social media channels for the latest news surrounding Google Penguin 3.0, or why not sign up to our monthly newsletter to get updates straight to your inbox? And don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any queries about the Penguin update or any other Google algorithm.



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