Penguin 3.0 – A Panda in disguise?

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in SEO

by caorda

Google’s search engine updates are frequent and mostly uneventful but the latest update(s) have had a serious impact on impressions that appear to be more relevant to Panda updates than Penguin.

Google Panda vs. Google Penguin vs. Google Pirate

  • Google Panda : Aimed at penalizing ad-heavy sites with thin content.
  • Google Penguin : Targets links spam, anchor text spam, and similar issues.
  • Google Pirate : Google Pirate aims it’s cannons at sites violating copyright laws.

Panda wasn’t too bad for most sites and really encouraged some positive changes to sites with poorly considered content. Search engine optimization experts still had plenty to beef about, but Google’s intentions were solid.

Penguin on the other hand was a free ride for black-hat SEOs who were willing to deal in negative SEO by building spammy low-value links to competing sites in hopes of ‘sand bagging’ the rankings of people ahead of them in the search results. At Caorda we saw several client sites hit with this tactic and had to assist with both detection of the unwanted links and the effort to get them removed/disavowed. In fact we were in the middle of developing a service offering to preemptively deal with the issue when Google’s other shoe dropped late in October.

Pirate was picked unofficially as the name attached to the DMCA work Google’s been doing to avoid becoming a search engine for torrents and other copyright materials. If you’ve tried doing torrent searches for popular TV shows on Google you likely noticed that things have changed drastically. In fact today I have noticed that pirates are using YouTube video comments to index themselves for popular TV shows and even leveraging URL shorteners to make their efforts harder to block/filter.

Bad Search results in late October

In truth there was a lot going on in October with official confirmation of a Pirate 2 update and the Penguin 3 update on the 21st.

While John Mueller from Google’s webspam team asserts that the update should be complete, webmasters are sharing graphs that indicate the update has taken a little longer to complete it’s release.

(John mentions the update around 47 mins into the video.)

Some of our own local Victoria B.C. websites have been throwing up red flags for our SEO experts with impression graphs that clearly indicate problems following the last updates:

(Victoria B.C. SEO Client A : This client had been audited in Sept and the primary concern was back-links and anchor text relevance.)

(Victoria B.C. SEO Client A : Not seeing an impact in traffic on the site yet, but the recent drop in impressions is not going to improve traffic.)

So that jives with what we were told to watch out for and there’s no surprises with this client but we’ve seen similar trends on sites with zero backlink issues that are clearly risking a Panda type of penalty.

Good Search improvement in late October

Not many clients took a hit in October, regardless of what updates were in play. The majority of Caorda’s clients were carefully following advice from our local SEO experts and not only avoided issues, they actually did very well thanks to these updates.

(Victoria B.C. SEO Client B : With no Penguin issues this client took a notable upswing in the SERPs. Is this a Panda in disguise?!)

Graphs tell us many things though, and interpreting them is a matter of opinion. Lets face facts, if your competitors are all getting a spanking, and you are improving your website, these updates were all good for you regardless of what black and white critter was behind the updates.

Lucky for these clients, they aren’t flying blind and trying to just ‘wing it‘. These are Caorda clients who have invested in getting regular reports for their online business. Our local SEO experts make sure they know that there’s a problem requiring swift corrective action before it starts to harm the performance of the business.

Sites that aren’t watching both search performance, and site performance, could wind up in this situation and only realize after it’s too late and they have lost years of efforts in attaining trust/website rankings.