Penguin 5.0, aka 2.1, Is Live

Written by Brick Marketing

On Friday, October 4th Matt Cutts tweeted that Penguin 2.1 launched, affecting about 1% of search queries. For the record, some SEOs are referring to Penguin 2.1 as Penguin 5.0 so know that they are talking about the same update. Why the naming confusion? As Danny Sullivan over at Search Engine Land explains;

…When Penguin 4 arrived, Google really wanted to stress that it was using what it deemed to be a major, next-generation change in how Penguin works. So, Google called it Penguin 2, despite all the references to a Penguin 2 already being out there, despite the fact it hadn’t really numbered many of these various updates before.

If your website was hit by Penguin 2.0 back in May 2013 this is your first real opportunity to see if your cleanup efforts have had any impact. Unlike a manual penalty, a penalty caused by the algorithm cannot be undone with a reconsideration request. Instead, you have to make changes and site tight, waiting for the next update to come down the pipeline and “reevaluate” your website. In the case of Penguin, Google will be looking at site’s link portfolios to determine if they are in line with the Google Webmaster Guidelines or if the site is still guilty of trying to spam the engines. Remember, the algorithm is basically a math equation; it can’t understand the intent behind your link building actions. You may not have meant to create the kind of link profile that looks suspicious but the algorithm doesn’t know what you meant to do (or what you did by accident); you are judged simply on what links exist.

Some types of links that could flag a Penguin penalty include:

1. Aggressive exact-match anchor text

2. Overuse of exact-match domains

3. Low-quality article marketing & blog spam

4. Keyword stuffing in internal/outbound links

Also bear in mind that Google recently updated their Webmaster Guidelines to say links in press releases MUST be branded or the full URL only, and should also be nofollow. Spammy social bookmarking links could also be considered unnatural. Unfortunately Google won’t tell you which links triggered the Penguin penalty so you’ll have to manually review your link profile using Webmaster Tools, as well as other tools like Open Site Explorer, SEMRush and AHRefs. Look for followed links from spammy websites, blog networks, unrelated websites, and keyword rich anchor text and work to get those removed. Your first step should be to contact the site owners themselves and the last ditch effort is the link disavow tool from Google. Keep in mind that Google doesn’t have to disavow the links you upload through their tool, but they might take your suggestion and not count those URLs for or against you.

If your website is hit with a Penguin penalty you’ll be able to tell fairly quickly as your organic traffic will drop off substantially overnight. I saw a website lose 50% of their organic traffic back in May because they were caught by Penguin 2.0. Hopefully their link building and link cleanup efforts will help them rebound with Penguin 5.0/2.1.

Penguin 5.0, aka 2.1, Is Live

Penguin 5.0/2.1 is still a part of Hummingbird, not a replacement for it.

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