What is Google Penguin 2.0?

Google's 4th round of Penguin updates (referred to as Penguin 2.0 by Google internally) have been expected for a little over a week now - ever since Matt Cutts first talked about it in this webmaster video

SearchEngineLand.com first reported a mention by Matt Cutts that the changes are rolling out this evening (May 22nd, 2013). Matt Cutts also has a blog post now announcing the same.

In a nut-shell

  1. Penguin 2.0 will impact roughly 2.3% English-US queries - a substantial number of queries
  2. This change has rolled out internationally at the same time as the US (unlike some other updates in the past that roll out in the US first and then subsequently to the rest of the world)
  3. This is a brand new update to the algorithm - meaning, that the rules of the game are changed

The change is expected create a good bit of turmoil in the search results over the next couple of days.

What does this Penguin update mean for SEO's?

As with previous Penguin updates, the focus of this update is also on weeding out webspam - specifically advertorials that attempt to pass PageRank AND/OR do not have sufficiently clear messaging indicating that the ads are in fact paid.

Hopefully for SEO's that have been smart with their approach to building authority and relationships (rather than just paid links), this update will be good news. The removal of webspam may indeed result in brands and quality sites getting a boost in their rankings. This is especially true in hyper-competitive industries where the mad dash to the top has resulted in a lot of companies treading water with their link building techniques.

Google had as recently as February of this year penalized Interflora for (what is considered) as a punishment for using advertorials to boost its rankings (Source: SERoundtable) . So it comes as no surprise that a more widespread update to the algorithm would follow to address the issue at scale.

The net impact on different sites, the SEO's and their tactics though is yet to be determined. As we aggregate data on the impact, the key losers and gainers and the triggers that seem to be invoking the penalty, we will be sharing those insights on this blog.

How to measure the impact of Penguin 2.0

If you are an Enterprise SEO and worried about the impact of Penguin 2.0, here is a list of things we recommend you check:

  1. Check for keywords that show a significant decline in rankings from Wednesday to Thursday (and Wednesday vs Friday)
  2. If you have the ability to segment and view traffic by Page types in your SEO or Analytics platform, check for sudden declines in traffic in any segment. Your analytics is a powerful indicator of areas that may be impacted - especially if you do not have daily rank checking for a very broad keyword set.
  3. Pay especially close attention to pages that you or your agency may have focused on for link building.
  4. Instead of looking at ranking averages across your entire set of targeted keywords, be sure to review rankings and the weighted average rank for groups of related keywords. Simple averages and large groupings of keyword data can obscure valuable insights