Just a few weeks ago, Google proclaimed that the highly anticipated Penguin 3.0 update launched on Friday would be a delight for webmasters, making their lives “easier a bit.” Since 2012, Google’s Penguin algorithm has improved search results by targeting web sites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, often by using black-hat SEO techniques involving paid links or other link schemes. The just released Penguin 3.0 algorithm continues the aim of its predecessors by weeding out these undesirable sites.
The 3.0 update features an ample rewrite that will be noticed by many webmasters across the web. Instead of just being a refresh—as Penguin updates frequently are—this new launch marks a large re-write of the algorithm that took Google nearly a full year to create. If it takes Google an entire year to develop an algorithm, you can bet it’ll have a significant effect on their search engine rankings.
But before we get to the awesome things to expect from Penguin 3.0, it’s worthwhile for all webmasters to show some precaution:
The Web-wide Impact of Penguin Releases
Penguin 3.0 prompts many webmasters to scramble and verify that their sites are not violating any of Google’s no-no’s, just as they did when Penguin 2.1 (Penguin 5) was released about a year ago. These Penguin updates typically impact anywhere from 0.3% to 3.1% of web sites indexed on Google, which accounts for millions of pages.
So, how can you avoid being detrimentally impacted by Penguin 3.0? Based on previous releases, it’s worth removing the following from any page on your web site:
- Text ads passing PageRank
- Link schemes involving paid links or link swaps on sidebars/blogrolls
- Poor quality backlinks
- Optimized anchor text on too many links
Penguin updates can penalize entire web sites or specific pages by lowering their PageRank or removing them from the Google index altogether. For a business that relies on search engine leads, a Penguin penalty can be absolutely devastating to their business prospects, even resulting in a full collapse.
The Good: More Frequent Refreshing
Now on to a more positive aspect of Penguin’s newest iteration! Penguin 3.0 features a complete data refresh that, in addition to freeing up all sites that removed poor backlinks or other penalty-infringing aspects of their site, will be more responsive in the future when allowing re-entry to sites that violated Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Most businesses who were negatively impacted by Penguin’s previous update last year have been struggling ever since then, with some going out of business, due to a dramatically lower search engine ranking. Even if they cleaned up their site and it’s now in tip-top shape, a complete data refresh is required to re-analyze the site and resume previous search engine ranking.
The Right Type of Data
As Google’s John Mueller states, this data refresh requires many hours of work that must align with the new algorithm, with the year-long wait being chalked up to Google ensuring that they’re capturing “the right type of data.” With Penguin 3.0, both the complete data refresh and shiny new algorithm are ready to go, with a monthly refresh frequency comparable to Google’s Panda algorithm. Google recognizes just how difficult a poorly written algorithm would be to amend, so the patience in developing Penguin 3.0 seems prudent despite some understandable backlash from impatient webmasters.
Google hopes that Penguin 3.0 can churn out the most accurate, guideline-abiding search results in the search engine’s history. As long as you ensure your web site is not violating any Webmaster Guidelines, Penguin 3.0 should be welcomed by all webmasters, especially the many who were frustrated by Penguin 2.1’s nearly year-long period of holding guideline-violating sites who later corrected their issues in search engine purgatory.