The March of the Penguins: What You Need to Know About Google’s Latest Algorithm Update
In April of 2012, Google released an update to its search engine algorithm named Penguin. While this animal typically reminds people of a harmless creature with an adorable waddle, the actual results of this update caused a small amount of chaos in the world of website listings. The update, which was designed to fight web spam and reward sites with a rich user experience, affected 3.1 percent of all queries. This meant that thousands of business owners who went to bed with solid SERP rankings woke up to see their site had plummeted.
The march continued in May 2013 when Penguin 2.0 rolled out. While the first wave was able to penalize sites that were using unscrupulous SEO practices (known as “black hat” techniques), this update took things even further. About 2.3 percent of all queries were affected this time and many more websites experienced a ranking freefall.
On October 19 of this year, Google announced Penguin 3.0, the latest addition to its own March of the Penguins. Because of the repercussions of the previous updates, many business owners, webmasters, and SEO professionals are on alert to see what Penguin 3.0 has in store. We’d like to answer a few commonly questions about this algorithm update and how it might affect your search engine rankings.
How is Penguin 3.0 different from Penguin 1.0 and 2.0?
The purpose behind all Penguin updates has been to eliminate spam, punish sites that follow black hat practices, and improve the search results provided to users. Penguin 3.0 is no different. Google hasn’t announced the exact parameters of this change and what it will be targeting. But it is safe to assume that it has broadened its attack on anything that seems unnatural or unfair.
Should I be worried about my site?
That depends. There are no guarantees when it comes to SERPs and how sites are ranked on them. But there are a few rules of thumb that you should follow to steer to clear of trouble. Thus far, the Penguin updates have been aimed at sites that use paid links, low-quality backlinks, over-optimized anchors, and other black hat tactics. If your site doesn’t use any of these strategies and focuses on developing engaging content, you most likely won’t experience major damage.
Is it possible that my site’s rankings could improve?
Sure. If your site was hit by Penguin 1.0 or 2.0 and you spent the past year or two making improvements, you might see a bump in your rankings with this update. One aspect of Penguin 3.0 is a data refresh that will re-evaluate prior offenders and their placement. This doesn’t mean improvement will be immediate — these things often take time.
What should I do?
The most important thing is to monitor your website rankings. If you are seeing improvements, congratulations! If your rankings have taken a dip, there may be something amiss with your website that may need to be adjusted. If you are an Online Image customer, you can utilize your Stats Page to keep up with your rankings. Call your account manager if you have any questions. If not, please give us a call for a free website analysis that will pinpoint any areas for potential improvement.
Make sure to check our blog often for future posts concerning updates to Google’s search engine algorithms and other SEO topics.