Google’s Penguin 2.0 Update: What We Can Expect
It’s been just over a year since the first Penguin update and many websites are still shaking at the sound of the word. The Penguin update affected a huge number of websites, including some high-profile brands that were engaging in all sorts of spammy link building techniques. Matt Cutts has now confirmed on Twitter that Penguin 2.0 will hit the search engines within the next two weeks:
@mrjamiedodd we do expect to roll out Penguin 2.0 (next generation of Penguin) sometime in the next few weeks though.
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) May 10, 2013
What Will The Penguin 2.0 Update Target
There’s been a lot of speculation around what the new update will actually target, but to quote Matt Cutts:
“Penguin is a web-spam change that is dedicated to try and find black-hat web-spam and try to target and address that. This one is a little more comprehensive than Penguin 1.0 and we expect it to go a little bit deeper and have a little bit more of an impact than the original version [of Penguin].”
In a nutshell, it’s going to bigger and better than the original update, whilst targeting a similar criteria as Penguin 1.0. The original Penguin update focused primarily on spammy links, as opposed to the likes of Panda which focused more on page content. Here’s a brief overview of the major focuses that we can expect from this latest algorithm update:
Irrelevant Anchor Links
Websites that have a load of links from websites that aren’t related to their site, using completely irrelevant anchor text are a prime target for the latest instalment of the Penguin update. An example of this could be that there are links with the anchor ‘cheap laptops’ bedded into an article that is talking about ‘the best ways to improve you fitness’.
Link Profiles With High Concentration of Commercial Keywords
As Google’s web-spam team are regularly stating – they want to see natural looking link profiles. If the links pointing to your website are comprised primarily of commercial keyword anchor text then you could be in danger. For example, if you have small amount of links that contain your brand name within the link anchor text and then the rest are just your target keywords.
A link network is essentially a group of websites that cross-link between each other on a mass scale in order to manipulate the search engine results. Link networks took a huge hit during the first Penguin update and I would expect to see even more improvements here.
Dofollow Links From Advertorials
Interflora were huge news earlier this year when they had a Google penalty imposed on them for using advertorials in a way that violates Google’s guidelines. Matt Cutts commented on the use of advertorials, stating:
“Clear disclosure of sponsorship is critical, and that includes disclosure for search engines. If link in a paid post would affect search engines, that link should not pass PageRank (e.g. by using the nofollow attribute).”
In short, Google aren’t against the use of advertorials as long as the links within them do not pass link equity, and also that there is clear disclosure within the article to let readers know that it is a paid-for editorial. I would envisage that we will see a few casualties from these types of links over the next update.
Spammy Site-wide Links
This was an old technique that I, sadly, still see used today. Links bedded into ‘blog rolls’ and within footer areas that are completely irrelevant to the site itself. These are another big target for the Penguin 2.0 update so be sure to analyse the number of links coming from your site and take action before this next update hits.
What Else Can We Expect From Google
In the next few months there are going to be further changes that we will start to see from Google related to SEO. Matt Cutts talks briefly about them in the video above but here’s a brief overview of the key things he mentions:
Identifying Authority Figures
Google are going to be looking at ways to identify authority figures, i.e. through authorship, and reward content written by influential authors with higher SERP rankings. Google Authorship has been a huge topic over the past 12 months and it looks like AuthorRank is going to be playing a big part in near future.
There will be more advanced ways to find hacked websites and an increased level of support offered to webmasters that have been affected by the activities of hackers.
The Next Instalment of the Panda Update
Google have confirmed that a further Panda update will be coming over the next couple of months that will focus on “softening the effects” on websites that fall within the ‘grey areas’ of the Panda update.
Reduced SERP Clustering
Matt Cutts has made a vow to reduce the number of clustered search results appearing within Google, i.e. one website appearing multiple times in the same SERP for a given keyword. This is something that I’m pretty happy about because it isn’t the best search experience when you have ten results all pointing to Yell.com.
More Information for Webmasters
Any SEO should be happy about this. Google are trying to give webmasters more support and metrics to work with which can only improve online visibility and search. There were some recent additions to Google Analytics that were great and I would expect more to follow.
Share Your Thoughts With Me
I’m always keen to hear the opinions of others when it comes to new search algorithm updates, so leave your comments below and I’ll give you my thoughts!