It’s official. Penguin 3.0 is being rolled out over the next few weeks.
Not that you’d have known it at the time: it waddled onto the Web last Friday but Google didn’t announce it for 24 hours, and even then they were distinctly evasive about what the details were. It wasn’t until four days later on Tuesday 21st October that Google’s Pierre Far shared a few of them on Google+.
The main points are these:
- Penguin 3.0 is a worldwide update affecting all versions of Google.
- ‘Launch’ is misleading; it’s a gradual rollout that will take place over “the next few weeks”.
- Less than 1 per cent of English queries will be impacted but other languages may also feel its effects.
- The rollout did indeed begin on Friday 17th
- It’s being described as a “refresh” by Google.
- Sites that were hit by Google 2.1 almost a year ago will benefit from the update provided they’ve cleaned up any dodgy backlinks; sites with bad links profiles will be demoted.
Unlike Panda and some of Google’s other algorithm updates, Penguin updates tend to be released globally. The nuances of language don’t especially concern it because it’s a dodgy link detector essentially, whereas Panda does pay closer attention to content and language, demoting thin or spam content.
The most immediate problem facing webmasters and SEO experts now is whether changes to a site’s visibility in search can be pinned on Penguin – a gradual rollout makes this kind of thing notoriously difficult to gauge.
About that word “refresh”: Google is quite careful about the words it uses and this one means that no signal changes have been made. It’s just a rerun of the algorithm to enable sites thwacked last time to recover and to hit sites that escaped even though they had bad links.
This begs the question of whether it should be called Penguin 3.0 at all. Isn’t Penguin 2.2 a more apt term for a simple rerun? Most people, we would bet, assumed that after waiting for over a year (Penguin 2.1 appeared on 4th October 2013), a new Penguin with new signals added would now appear. Does this make the next one Penguin 4.0?