Penguin 2.0: what does it mean for webmasters?

23 May 2013
By Corinne

Have you checked your rankings recently? If not, you may have a pleasant surprise (or a nasty shock) coming your way, following the deployment of ‘Penguin 2.0’, Penguin’s smarter, more agile younger brother.

As announced by Search Engine Watch, and Matt Cutts himself, the new generation of Penguin was rolled out on Wednesday.

But the best source of information on Penguin 2.0 remains this video, in which Cutts announced the impending changes earlier this month:

How is Penguin 2.0 affecting search results?

If you’ve already checked your site’s rankings today, you may have spotted some fairly major shifts. The direction of those shifts will depend on how Google now views the links to your website following the Penguin 2.0 update.

According to Cutts, the update was mainly targeting black hat web spam. Some of the points he outlined in his original video on the subject (above) include:

• This update is more comprehensive than Penguin and subsequent Penguin refreshes, going deeper into a site and not just targeting the homepage
• Areas which tend to be more prone to webspam, such as payday loans, are being hit hard
• Paid advertorials are losing their page rank. Advertorials, for example on news sites, are allowed but they should not flow page rank and there should be clear and conspicuous exposure

Predictably, online commentators are reporting a mixture of results, with some sites seeing positive effects while others have lost some major rankings. We can expect a clearer picture of the overall shifts in the search space to emerge over the next few days.

Why we need to pay attention to Penguin 2.0

In Cutts’ blog post on the subject, published yesterday, he pointed out the relative significance of this update, compared to data refreshes of Penguin: “because this is an updated algorithm (not just a data refresh), we’ve been referring to this change as Penguin 2.0,” he said.

He also specified the proportion of queries that would be affected: “About 2.3% of English-US queries are affected to the degree that a regular user might notice.”

Cutts also gave some more insight of Penguin 2.0 and its significance for Google’s search results in an interview just hours before the algorithm update went live:

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