Early thoughts on Penguin 2.0

  • 1
  • May 23, 2013
Tim Grice

Tim Grice


So the web spam team at Google have finally pulled their finger out and unleashed a world of hurt on link spammers with Penguin 2.0. I was in two minds when thinking about putting this post together, a) because it’s too early to fully understand the impact, and b) I didn’t want to regurgitate the same thing as everybody else out there.

If you have been living on a desert island for the past two years and know nothing about Penguin, you can read up on it here and here. The main takeaways:

1 – The new version of Penguin is more aggressive

2 – It targets lower level pages of a site and not just the top level.

You might want to watch this again as well:

What I really wanted to do was go over some of the trends we are seeing, and what you can do if you are being badly affected by the updates.

Link devaluation & website devaluation

If you have seen your rankings diminish over time, that does not necessarily mean that the Penguin algorithm is affecting you. Matt Cutts announced 3– 4 weeks ago that they had taken action against a large network of link sellers and devalued the outgoing links accordingly.

On-going link devaluation is very evident in the SERP’s as Patrick pointed out in his post on aggressive link devaluation.

If your rankings seem to be slipping on a weekly basis, it is likely your link profile is being devalued, there is nothing you can do about this other than to remove/disavow the low quality links and focus on building stronger links based on a natural strategy. The last 3 – 5 years of your SEO is likely wiped out, getting your rankings back will not be an easy task, you will have to start from scratch.

Authority sites win

No brainer really, this latest round of Penguin definitely favours what everyone in the real world would consider the authority sources on the web. Government websites, news sites and advice driven resources have all fared well from the recent update, as you would expect.

So, you may not have been penalised, or hit by the algorithm update, however you may have lost visibility to websites with more authority.

Penguin isn’t a penalty

Many sites were expecting to see link removal efforts when Penguin reran, however it is becoming clear that Penguin is not a penalty. There will be no magic recovery because you have removed links, this is an algorithm update, it isn’t Google saying ‘you’ve been naughty, we’re going to punish you’, this is Google saying ‘all that stuff you did to rank, we’ve just killed it, start again’.

So unless you have managed to replace all the authority your low quality links were giving you, don’t expect to see your rankings come back. Unfortunately, any investment in low quality links is lost, and the only way back is to invest at a higher level in developing a solid SEO strategy.

It could get worse

Matt Cutts has already stated that the impact can be adjusted, and I am pretty confident that he doesn’t mean ‘we can make this easier on link spam’.

The Matt Cutts comment

This update is going nowhere, Google is not going to let you off, aggressive link devaluation and manual action against link sellers and networks will intensify. Building a ton of anchor text links is not going to help you, there is no secret formula for anchor text variation, and removing links will give you a clean sheet but won’t bring you back.

As I have said on my blog and plenty of times on Twitter, if your links are acquired for SEO value only, you are likely to be in trouble now and in the future if you persist. No more easy street.