What's in the Penguin pipeline?

| 27 Nov, 2014

Penguin 3.0 was recently rolled out, impacting less than 1% of English search queries - far less than previous versions. SEO Manager Jon Verrall gives his thoughts in our latest Insights video.

SEO Manager Jonathan Verrall talks about the recent Penguin algorithm update and what is yet to come

Video transcript

So Penguin 3.0 was rolled out on the 17th of October. It impacted less than 1% of all English search queries, which was far less than say Penguin 1.0 or 2.0. We've been waiting over a year for the Penguin update, so we were expecting more, but because the algorithm hasn't been fully rolled out yet, we're still expecting and we'll probably see more to come.

So the Penguin update focuses on a number of factors most generally focused around over-optimisation. This entails low quality backlink profiles which have lots of spammy backlinks, paid backlinks, over-optimised links, which keyword exact match anchors, this can cause a problem.

Penguin 3.0 is algorithmic, which is different from a manual penalty where Google reviews your backlink profile and then manually classifies you as being penalised or placing a penalty on your site. it’s algorithms naturally detect problems with your backlink profile, which most people aren't really aware of if they're doing SEO because there's no notification in Webmaster Tools, which you typically get when you get a manual penalty.

The latency periods behind the algorithm updates has caused quite a few problems for webmasters, specifically those who were affected by the previous Penguin updates. It means that even though they've had to rectify their backlink issues and the Penguin issues with their site, it's taken over a year before they've seen any effects from the update, which has been quite a long time especially if the Penguin update has affected a company's bottom line or revenue.

I feel the Google Penguin algorithm has to evolve to catch up with black hat tactics. A few ways I feel Google can do this is to look at the diversity of the backlink profile a little bit more, so taking into context deep linking. If a deeper page has an inflated backlink profile, which outweighs the homepage, I feel this could be a problem, and it's a signal Google could look at.

Also, I think the diversity of no-follow to follow backlinks to a page is also a really important signal which Google could utilise to help improve their algorithm. Google should look at keywords as a bucket rather than a singular key phrase. So if you're over-optimising for a keyword group rather than a singular keyword, you can actually then get penalised for the entire keyword group rather than just a singular.

Google Penguin doesn't just look at the backlink profile of a website. It also looks at the on-page optimisation, so levels of keyword density, keyword stuffing in your HTML title, your body content your H-tags. It's good to be conscious of your on-page optimisation and the levels of keyword density, not just your backlink profile, when trying to recover from a Google Penguin update.

I think similar to what Google have done with the Panda algorithm is they're looking to speed up the refresh time. John Mueller, the Web Trends Analyst at Google, has already announced that they're looking to improve the speed of the algorithm so they can refresh it much more frequently. I expect that they work the Penguin refresh into the core algorithm and we will see it update every couple of months.

But just looking at what we've previously seen with the most recent update, it's taken quite a long time to roll out. So I expect Google haven't quite completed this change, so we would expect to see something come along probably early 2015.

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