Wednesday was the day black-hat spammers and less than squeaky clean SEOs were dreading – the day Penguin 2.0 was unleashed on the SERPs.
Now, we knew the update was going to be big and we knew it was due any day now but the update still caught a lot of us off guard, especially here in the UK because it hit overnight, while we were sleeping peacefully – blissfully unaware of the aggressive attack that was taking place by our favourite black and white themed update.
So, what do we know about the update so far then? Well, the update is the fourth Penguin-related launch from Google (but only the second major algorithm update) and according to Google’s head of web spam Matt Cutts, the update has affected around 2.3% of English-US search queries.
Now, this might not sound like much – but it’s had a major effect on the industry, with lots of webmasters reporting massive SERP fluctuations – and not in a good way! Some site owners are even claiming their keyword rankings have disappeared altogether! Oh dear!
On his blog, Matt confirmed that the change had finished rolling out for languages worldwide and said the impact of Penguin 2.0 would vary depending on the level of webspam each language has – ie. languages with more webspam would feel more of an impact.
Okay, so we’ve got the figures but do we know what Penguin 2.0 has actually targeted? Of course not!
Google are remaining notoriously tight-lipped on this one and it’s too soon to tell which industries have been most affected by the update – but we know Penguin targets blackhat web spam so obvious things like directories, blog comments and article spinning are obviously going to have been hit along with keyword heavy anchor text links and bought links. We also know that this new update targets lower level pages of a website, rather than just the homepage.
Anything else? Well, we know that Google’s looking closely at sponsored content right now – but there are no signs yet that Penguin 2.0 has targeted native advertising like this. Similarly, we know spam queries like ‘payday loans’ are being closely looked at but a quick search for the phrase suggests Penguin 2.0 hasn’t actively targeted this either.
Anything else we should know about? Well, remember in my last post when Google said they were going to look at limiting cluster results to one domain? Well, Google confirmed they pushed out an update for this on Tuesday (21st May) so along with the Penguin 2.0 shake-up, you should also start to see less results from one domain across multiple SERPs.
Beware though – Matt Cutts has confirmed there are a couple of side effects that are worth knowing about! Ever used a site command (site:www.domain.co.uk) to check how many of your pages have been indexed by Google? If you try it today, you might notice your results are limited to 30. Don’t panic though! Matt said this was a “temporary side effect of the domain clustering change” and said they “expect that site: will be back to showing lots of results by sometime next week” – phew!
So there we have it; a Penguin 2.0 update and a domain clustering update all in one week! What’s that? Thank goodness we have a three day weekend ahead of us in the UK? I know exactly what you mean!