Google pushed Penguin 3.0 live: What you need to know

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

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On October 19 Google officially confirmed they pushed Penguin 3.0 live. Even though it’s called Penguin 3.0 it’s actually the 6th iteration of the link spam fighting algorithm update.

This is the first time Google has updated Penguin in almost exactly a year, so many site owners have their fingers crossed that the last year of link cleanup and link building is enough to put them on the right side of the Penguin line in the sand. If you’ve managed to sail though the other versions of Penguin, hopefully you didn’t mess up in the last year and are still on Google’s good side!

How do you know if you’ve been helped or hurt by Penguin? It’s a little tricky since most weekend data is (on average) lower than during the week, but if you see your traffic bottomed out on the 17th and has not come back up than chances are you were hit by Penguin. You will NOT receive any kind of notice in Webmaster Tools, like you would if this were a manual penalty, so you’ll have to self-diagnose your Penguin 3.0 penalty.

Keep in mind that as Penguin 3.0 works its way across the web the SERPs are bound to be bouncing all over the place while the dust settles. Some sights are going to be tangentially effected as well, even if they aren’t directly penalized.

As Search Engine Land pointed out;

Do keep in mind that some people may see ranking drops but not actually be hit by Penguin. That’s because if Penguin causes a wide range of links to be discounted, those links will no longer pass along the credit or act as “votes” as they once might have.

Sites that gained from these fake votes — as Google would consider them — lose that credit and thus potentially visibility, even though they weren’t penalized by Google directly.

Imagine you had 100 links in your link profile, each being worth one “point” to Google. With Penguin 3.0 live perhaps 25 of those links have been devalued. You still have 100 links but only 75 “points.” The rest of your link profile is strong enough and clean enough to protect you from an actual link penalty, but the overall value of your link profile might have taken a hard enough hit that your website drops in the SERPs a few spots. Those 25 links had artificially boosted the value of your site so know you’re sitting where you actually belong.

An update this big is bound to take a few days to rollout completely, so keep an eye on your Google Analytics data throughout the rest of the weeks for any signs that you’ve been hit by Penguin 3.0, either directly or indirectly. Hopefully this isn’t the first time you’ve heard of Penguin so you’ve been actively watching your link building steps for the last year.

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