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Yesterday, Matt Cutts shared an update on what’s coming up from Google in the next few weeks. He made mention of Penguin 2.0 which appears to be a substantial algorithm update. (Note: Some in the industry are suggesting that this will actually be Penguin 4.0, but internally the Google team is referring to it as 2.0 – which is how we will refer to it for now.) For those unaware, the original Penguin Update was rolled out on April 24, 2012 and was aimed at targeting sites that were “over-optimized” and link spammers who artificially inflated their link inventories to try and gain presence in Google’s results. The update was aimed at decreasing search engine rankings of websites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines by using what Google declared as black-hat SEO techniques that included items such as keyword stuffing, cloaking, or participating in link schemes.
It looks like Penguin 2.0 will be targeting black-hat techniques even more so. According to this video from Google’s Matt Cutts (see below), Penguin 2.0 will be rolling out in the next few weeks with Google making a few more algorithm changes during the summer months. As with all major algorithm updates from Google, there appears to always be collateral damage. So knowing about the upcoming updates can help you prepare for any impact you might expect to see. Frankly if you have not participated in any of the above mentioned black-hat techniques and haven’t undertaken any “traditional” mass link building efforts, you should be ok. For other sites that are using questionable tactics that may violate Google’s guidelines, you might be in for an interesting summer.
Consider what happened when the original Penguin Update rolled out:
The update, in part, focused on the quality of backlinks, so the result varied for different websites. Some sites lost rankings for everything while some sites lost rankings only on specific keywords.
Penguin is a “web spam change” that is dedicated to find black-hat web spam. Matt mentions that this will have more of an impact than the original Penguin update. They are looking how to make link spam less effective. Google is working harder on more detailed link analysis.
Separately Google is looking at advertising on sites that violate their guidelines. Basically any paid ads that you have should not “flow PageRank”. There should be clear and conspicuous disclosure to differentiate when an ad is paid vs. not.
What’s interesting in the video from Google’s Matt Cutts is that at the start of the video he specifically mentions that “…we’re taping this in early May of 2013…” which leads us to believe that we might be expecting a series of updates forthcoming.
Some keywords from Matt to take note of:
Focus on the users
Work on high quality content
Work with Google
What Penguin 2.0 Might Mean for Site Owners
If you are already building quality content on your web properties you have very little to worry about.
If you are building your link inventories in an “unnatural” manner you might be in for an eventful summer.
If you have been hanging around a lot of black-hat forums and applying related practices, you too might be in for an eventful summer.
If you are a relevant authority in your industry, Google will be looking to make sure that you rank highly according to the algorithms.
In some cases when you see a cluster of results from one site, as you go through the Google results pages, it will be less likely that you see more results from that same site.
Link-spammers will be showing up less and less over the next few months.
Clean up your link profiles.As Matt mentioned in the post: One common issue we see with disavow requests is people going through with a fine-toothed comb when they really need to do something more like a machete on the bad backlinks. For example, often it would help to use the “domain:” operator to disavow all bad backlinks from an entire domain rather than trying to use a scalpel to pick out the individual bad links. That’s one reason why we sometimes see it take a while to clean up those old, not-very-good links.So go through your external link inventories and clean up and low quality, irrelevant links.
Avoid traditional link building practices of trying to drive a massive amount of links to your site.Focus on producing rich content.
Avoid spamming your site with keyword stuffing, doorway pages and syndicated content.
Pay attention to your traffic via your analytics.Also ensure that you monitor your site’s activity through Google Webmaster Tools.It is probably a great time to review Google’s Webmaster Guidelines to ensure that you are working within the Guidelines set forth by Google.
If Google is taking the time to “warn” the masses you know that there is a major change coming. Again if you have a high quality site that is not violating any of Google’s Guidelines, you probably have nothing to worry about. If you’ve been aggressively trying to link build and artificially inflate your link inventory you may want to revisit that approach. Penguin 2.0 will not be the last Penguin update. The Google webspam team is committed to fighting webspam and sites that are trying to “game” the system. Focus on your users and not the search engines. Work on creating a site that is or will become an authority so that this algorithm (or any future algorithm) update should not have a negative impact on your online efforts.
Google’s Matt Cutts: What to Expect in SEO in Upcoming Months