SERPs shake-up expected as Google gets set to unleash Penguin 3.0 update

By Holly Hayman, blog post 03/10/2014

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Hold onto your hats. SearchEngineLand are reporting that Google’s next major algorithm update, Penguin 3.0, may arrive as soon as next week.

The news comes via a conference talk given by Gary Illyes, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst and Search Quality Engineer.

It has been almost exactly a year since the last Penguin update.

What is the Penguin 3.0 update?

As with past releases, the latest Penguin update will target websites that have dodgy or unnatural backlinks. These could be links from spam sites, paid links, or links from link networks.

Penguin 3.0 is potentially good news if your website was hit by the previous update and you’ve worked hard to remove or disavow any harmful links. The algorithm should now take these into account.

Potentially sites where multiple dodgy links are coming from could be indexed by Google.

Google have suggested that in future Penguin will be updated more frequently, meaning webmasters who have attempted to fix dodgy backlink issues won’t have to wait for an age for their changes to take effect.

Illyes also suggested that the update would make webmasters’ lives easier, without revealing details on exactly how (we’re wondering if it could be a new Webmaster Tools function that makes flagging spammy backlinks to Google simple?).

(You can find more about Penguin here, and if you’re interested in finding out more about the history of Google’s algorithm updates, head here for Moz’s Google Algorithm Change History timeline.)

Will Penguin 3.0 impact my website negatively?

If you’re one of our clients and you’ve authorised us to work on ensuring your backlink profile is clean, then hopefully not.

If you think you have many – or even just a few – spammy or bought links pointing at your website, then you may feel a big impact. Concerned? We have significant experience and expertise with link removal, so get in touch.

Will Penguin 3.0 impact my website positively?

No one can accurately predict the extent to which SERPs will be shaken up by Google’s algorithm update. However, it seems likely that sites that were hit by the last major Penguin update (Penguin 2.1 in October 2013) and have since cleaned up their backlink profile via removal and a disavow list will see at least a partial recovery in rankings.

That said, there’s a possibility that the Penguin update(s) may have merely removed any benefits gained previously from spammy backlinks. In which case, results may remain unchanged.

For those affected by Penguin 2.0/2.1 who have now fixed issues, some commentators are suggesting Penguin 3.0 will have a similar effect to a manual penalty being lifted.

And not forgetting Panda…

There’s also been a recent update of Penguin’s algorithmic brother-in-arms, Panda. Google started rolling out Panda 4.1 in the last week of September, and it’s designed to stop ‘thin’ or ‘poor’ content from ranking well.

What does Panda 4.1 entail and what impact will it have? The below is quoted from a SearchEngineLand article by Danny Sullivan:

“The rollout means anyone who was penalized by Panda in the last update has a chance to emerge, if they made the right changes. So if you were hit by Panda, made alterations to your site, you’ll know by the end of next week if those were good enough, if you see an increase in traffic.

“The rollout also means that new sites not previously hit by Panda might get impacted. If you’ve seen a sudden traffic drop from Google this week, or note one in the coming days, then this latest Panda Update is likely to blame.”

What can we learn from these updates?

Nothing that we shouldn’t know already.

If you partake of ‘black hat’ SEO practices, such as buying links, Google will punish you.

If you build great content on your website that earns genuine links, and you use SEO techniques intelligently, Google will reward you.

Need some help with that? Call Mark Poppleton in our sales team on 0845 838 0936 or get in touch via our contact form