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P1P Archives

Penguin 2.0 – What We’ve Learned

Posted by Cory Collins on Jun 25, 2013 2:39:23 PM

Penguin 2.0 was released nearly a month ago, with much fanfare, fear and uncertainty. It’s time to take a moment and look at what we've learned since Penguin 2.0’s inception.

First of all, there have been a few data deep dives and case study releases that claim to have an understanding of this latest Penguin update.

A few of the best examples:

Key takeaways from these posts:

  • Penguin 2.0 was smaller than the hype surrounding the update
  • Plenty of sites were still unfortunately affected, and Matt Cutts of Google has stated that they can “modify the impact”.
  • Penguin 2.0 truly was an enhancement of Penguin 1.0, not a whole new beast of its own, and targeted the same webspam activities as 1.0
  • There’s sure to be more Penguin updates in the not so distant future
  • Over optimizing for ‘money keywords’ is likely a signal for Penguin 2.0
  • Penguin 2.0 is more sophisticated that 1.0, with a reportedly ‘deeper analysis’ of backlink portfolios
  • New high quality links might be necessary to properly recover from Penguin

Important elements to note that DIDN’T happen with Penguin 2.0:

  • A new link strategy devalued and or targeted by Penguin
  • An extreme targeting/action on paid links (although I wouldn’t certainly wouldn’t recommend this)
  • Extreme fluctuations across the SERPs

These are the technical details that are revealed through the posts above. Although it’s still early to be 100% sure of anything, these are good takeaways.

But let’s go one step beyond. Understanding these technical truths, what does it reveal of the philosophy of Google, especially moving forward into the future?

1) Google isn’t taking anything back

Google might adjust the strength of certain signals affecting their algorithm, but you can bet they’re not taking any of these algorithmic updates back. Penguin and Panda, for better or worse, are here to stay.

2) The Greyhat SEO tactics of today are the Blackhat SEO tactics of tomorrow

Google’s been very upfront for years about what they think of tactics meant to manipulate the search results. They’ve continually espoused the same ‘think of the user, not the search engine’ mentality. As they continue to roll out these updates, tactics that ride the border today will more and more be subject to scrutiny and penalty in the future. It’s so important to ensure you’re using strategies that have lasting value, because you can be sure that putting all your eggs in a questionable basket will eventually make for a mess. So, use strategies that are as close to future proof as possible.

3) Google’s continually working toward strict enforcement of their Webmaster Guidelines, and are closer today than they’ve ever been

Google’s Webmaster Guidelines didn’t spring up overnight. They’ve been in place for quite a while – but they were more or less ignored due to lack of enforcement. This led to quite a bit of shady, manipulative, spammy tactics that unfortunately worked. But, that’s a bygone era.

With each passing year, and especially each new update—no matter the names they’re called—Google is working toward strict enforcement of their guidelines. They’ve become sheriff of the web, and with the falloff of competition Google has the room in which to work to nudge the internet in the direction they intend, for good or ill.

If traffic from Google is important to your business, website, blog, and community, you’d best ensure you’re following the Webmaster Guidelines.

4) Google’s not done

Again, you can bet the farm that there’ll be more updates (Penguin included) in the future, which will continue to work to reign in manipulative practices. Google has a lot of brilliant, genius individuals working to continue to improve the search experience and keep Google on top. You can rest assured that Google isn’t done, and won’t rest on their laurels.

Dr. Pete of Moz (formerly SEOmoz) wrote a great post recently: SEO Tactics Die, But SEO Never Will. The post has a great ending (Sci-fi alert), but what really caught my attention was this statement:

“I’m 42 years old, and the public internet as we know it now hasn’t existed for even half of my life. Google is a teenager, and I strongly suspect I’ll outlive them (or at least their dominance).”
-Dr. Pete

A powerful statement, and an important reminder. Google has become such a titan, in such a relatively short amount of time. It’s easy to let their stature, power, and dominance overwhelm, and believe Google’s always been in charge. In reality, they’re relatively new to the throne, and their continued reign is by no means guaranteed.

However, for the foreseeable future, Google’s still very much in charge. Penguin 2.0 has come out, and it’s important to remember what we've learned – not only what we can technically detect with this update – but what the update says about Google as a whole, the direction they're headed, and how we can best optimize ourselves for the future.