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Image Courtesy of Martin Pettitt

Image Courtesy of Martin Pettitt

Despite telling us that Google would no longer confirm when new Panda updates occur, they announced today that they were rolling out a new update that is “more finely targeted” than the original release of Penguin 2.0.

Unlike many Penguin updates, most webmasters actually seem happy to see the new version, as they are already claiming recovery from the original algorithm.

Google has said that their plan is to release Panda algorithm updates monthly over a ten day period, but Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, implied there way a delay for this refresh because they wanted to ensure the signals would be loosened up a little from the last release.

The official statement from Google simply says, “In the last few days we’ve been pushing out a new Panda update that incorporates new signals so it can be more finely targeted.”

Search Engine Journal says the update has resulted in

  • Increase in impressions but same amount of CTR’s (viewable when logged into Google’s Webmaster Tools)
  • Informational sites such as Wikipedia and About.com have seen big impacts in their rankings
  • Authority sites are more prominent in SERPs.
  • Sites using Google+ are getting better rankings

Their suggestions for the future? It’s reaching the point where not using Google+ can hurt your site, and it is time to enable Google Authorship.

Image Courtesy of Martin Pettitt

Image Courtesy of Martin Pettitt

It has been well over a month since Penguin 2.0 was unleashed upon the world and the search industry is still reeling from the results of the algorithm update aimed at link profiles, low quality backlinks, and over-optimized anchor texts.

The average estimate says that Penguin 2.0 affected over 2-percent of all English queries. That doesn’t sound like much, but when SEO Roundtable took a poll in late May over half their readers say they had been hit by the changes.

First, it should be said that some portion of those may have been affected by a separate algorithm update released shortly before the new version of Penguin, but that update was aimed at typically spammy sectors like payday loans and pornography.

The majority of those saying they were affected by Penguin however were most likely correct about their recent drop in rankings or loss of traffic. It is either that, or far too many involved were misreading their data or somehow unaware that their payday loan site might be targeted by Google. Let’s assume that’s not the case, because that option sounds highly unlikely.

But, time has passed since Penguin came out. I’ve seen at least 10 articles detailing how to recover from Penguin, and numerous others focused on all the areas Penguin targeted. We should all be getting back to normal, right?

According to the recent poll from SEO Roundtable on the topic, that is not the case. Over 60 percent of those responding have said they haven’t recovered from the algorithm update, with only 7.5-percent saying they have fully recovered.

What does this mean? Well the respondents are clearly SEO informed people who keep up to date with the latest blogs, since they responded to one of the more reputable sites available on the issue. One major issue is that full recovery from Penguin isn’t possible for many of those affected until the next refresh. It is hard to know when that refresh could happen, though it may not be until the next update is announced.

The other issue is simply that those articles telling SEOs how to recover from Penguin range from completely valid to “how to try to cheat the new system” which can be confusing for inexperienced or uninformed SEOs. The best suggestion for solving this problem is playing close attention to what sites you are reading and always take the more conservative advice.

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Penguin 2.0 only affected 2.3% of search queries, but you would think it did much more from the response online. Ignoring all of the worrying before the release, there have been tons of comments about the first-hand effects it seems many are dealing with in the post-Penguin 2.0 web. Those spurned by the new Penguin algorithm have even accused Google of only releasing the update to increase their profitability.

Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, used his recent Webmaster Chat video to attack that idea head on. The main question he was asked is what aspect of Google updates Cutts thinks the SEO industry doesn’t understand. While Matt expresses concern about the amount of people who don’t get the difference between algorithm updates and data refreshes, Cutts’ main focus is the concept that Google is hurting web owners to improve their profits.

Most notably, the algorithm updates simply aren’t profitable. Google experienced decreases in their revenue from almost all their recent updates, but Cutts says that money isn’t the focus. Google is aiming at improving the quality of the internet experience, especially search. While site owners using questionable methods are upset, most searchers will hopefully feel that the updates have improved their experience, which will keep them coming back and using Google.

As far as the misunderstandings between algorithm updates and data refreshes, Cutts has expanded on the problem more elsewhere. The biggest difference is that the algorithm update changes how the system is working while data refreshes do not and only change the information the system is using or seeing.

Cutts was also asked which aspect of SEO that we are spending too much time on, which leads Cutts to one of the main practices that Penguin focuses on: link building. Too many SEOs are still putting too much faith in that single practice though it is being destabilized by other areas that more directly affect the quality of users’ experiences such as creating compelling content. Instead, Matt urges SEOs to pay more attention to design and speed, emphasizing the need to create the best web experience possible.

Cutts’ video is below, but the message is that Google is going to keep growing and evolving, whether you like it or not. If you listen to what they say and tell you about handling your SEO, you may have to give up some of your old habits but you’ll spend much less time worrying about the next algorithm update.

Well, the big event that the SEO community has been talking about for weeks has finally hit and everything is… mostly the same, unless you run sites known for spammy practices like porn or gambling. Two days ago, Google started rolling out Penguin 2.0. By Matt Cutts’ estimate, 2.3 percent of English-U.S. queries were affected.

While 2.3 percent of searches doesn’t sound like a lot, in all actuality that is thousands of websites being hit with penalties and sudden drops in the rankings, but if you’ve been keeping up with Google’s best practices, chances are you are safe.

None-the-less, in SEO it is always best to stay informed on these types of updates, and Penguin 2.0 does change the Google handles search a bit. To fill in everyone on all the details, Search Engine Journal’s John Rampton and Murray Newlands made a YouTube video covering everything you could want to know about Penguin 2.0.

Oh, and if you’ve been wanting to know why it’s called Penguin 2.0, Cutts says, “This is the fourth Penguin-related launch Google has done, but because this is an updated algorithm (not just a data refresh).”