Google's goal with the latest update is to reduce the amount of spam on the internet, offering a better search experience for users. Google announced the new launch on Search Engine Land, where it was named Google Penguin 3.0.
Like last year's release, Penguin 3.0 is estimated to only impact one percent of search queries, a significant drop from the 3.1 percent of queries that were affected by Google Penguin when it first launched in April 2012. As with any new algorithm change, however, businesses are eager to learn as much as possible about the changes in order to shift their own marketing efforts if necessary. While there isn't much information about the new release, here's what we know at this point.
Spammy Links are Targeted
After being dramatically impacted by previous Penguin updates, many businesses worked hard to clean up their sites. Google was especially interested in cleaning up results by penalizing links that were spammy in nature. Some businesses were disappointed that, despite hours of hard work to clean up inbound links, they noticed little improvement in their search rankings.
Preliminary reports indicate the latest update may have finally acknowledged that hard work. One marketer began receiving emails from clients almost immediately noting that their sites had increased significantly in ranking for some keywords. If you notice your site visits dropping over these next few weeks, you may still have cleanup work to do.
A Global Rollout
The Penguin update is still underway, with sources reporting it will be taking place over the next few weeks. The update affects all Google users across the globe, primarily focusing on English queries. It may also impact foreign-language queries to an unspecified degree. Instead of calling it a complete update, however, Google's Pierre Far told Search Engine Land it was more of a "refresh." According to Search Engine Land, this means that the site merely updated its algorithms to release those sites that had repaired their issues after the last update and pinpoint any issues that might have been missed by previous updates. As a result, sites that didn't repair issues but remained high in search results may notice a sudden drop.
Far confirmed that the update is designed to demote those sites that still have bad link profiles, with those who have worked to improve the quality of their site links seeing a promotion. Because this is a rollout lasting multiple weeks, you may not see immediate results, but you'll know to watch your site's analytics carefully for any sudden changes in organic search rankings during the next month.
A Future Update Predicted
Because Penguin 3.0 was a refresh instead of an update, some in the industry are saying it should be termed Penguin 2.2, leaving room for a major update in the future. After waiting a year and only seeing a small change, some industry insiders are wondering if this refresh is just laying the groundwork for a major update in the near future.
Sites that are on top of their game likely won't see a significant impact from these rollouts. This is especially true of sites that focus on high-quality content and resist the urge to indulge in long-abandoned activities like keyword stuffing. Sites that are still seeing an impact should take measures to identify outside sites that are linking to them. These inbound links could be seen as spammy, especially if a business paid for them. If contacting the original source doesn't result in the link being removed, site owners can use Google's Disavow Tool to try to have the link disregarded by its algorithms.
Site owners should carefully watch their analytics over the next few weeks for any sudden changes. If a site suffers a dramatic drop in traffic, Penguin 3.0 could be to blame. In the meantime, sites should use a backlink identification tool to identify all sites that link to them and remove any links that may be seen in a negative light by Google's algorithms. Not only will the extra work pay off with this algorithm update, but it will serve as a foundation for any future Google Penguin updates, as well.