Google Penguin Update 3 Released, Impacts 0.3% Of English-Language Queries

Google’s Matt Cutts used Twitter this afternoon to announce that Google is launching the latest “data refresh” of its Penguin spam-fighting algorithm today and that it will affect searches across multiple languages.

Including the original Penguin algorithm launch in late April, this is the third update, so we’re calling it Penguin 3 and avoiding the previous 1.1, 1.2, etc. naming scheme, just as we’ve done with the Panda updates.

Penguin Releases So Far

Here’s the list so far, showing when each Penguin update came out, the percentage of English-languages queries it was said to impact (other languages are also impacted, but we’re using English as a consistent baseline):

Some Details On Penguin 3

Cutts, chief of Google’s spam team, posted about the Penguin update in a series of tweets. The first said that a Penguin data refresh is on its way and that about 0.3 percent of English-language queries will be “noticeably affected.”

He added more info via a few replies on Twitter, like these that mention the update will also impact a small percentage of queries in other languages such as Spanish, Italian and French.

How Google Determines Percent Of Queries Impacted

For the first time that I’m aware of, we also learn a bit about what Google means when it cites how many queries are “noticeably affected.” In this conversation with UK SEO Rob Watts, Cutts suggests that “noticeable” means “above the fold,” at least to some degree.

Google first launched the Penguin update in late April, and even though the company talked about targeting webspam in general, the real impact seems to have been on websites with what Google considers (too many) low-quality inbound links. Prior to today, there was one previous update in late May and Google has promised further “jolts” related to the Penguin algorithm.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Features: Analysis | Google: Penguin Update | Top News


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • Codex Meridian

    You test it and it work but it does not make sense to me. Why on earth should I start a new website just to rank in Google? My long term plan is not ranking in Google..My long term is to get connected with new readers from all sources whether offline and online and I use my site as a business card. The site is already established, there is no turning back or starting all over again.

    If Google hates my site, so be it. I don’t need them to be included in my long term plans. Trusting your business in Google is your number 1 mistake you could make in your business plan. A single algorithmic switch can wipe everything you’ve work hard for.

  • Peter Kern

    So… what the hell are you doing here if you are not interested in ranking :)

  • Jual Beli Laptop Bekas

    with a lot of google updates, leading to more websites so rubbish. regular blog content is relevant but has actually knocked away from the result should be. Google makes search results more and not according to the will.
    then what good is the update?

  • Danny Sullivan

    I’ve not felt like I’m overwhelmed with Pinterest pages, nor have I felt I’ve gotten Amazon or YouTube stuff that made me thing woah, this is bad relevancy, nope.

    Bing is absolutely a viable alternative. I went a week with it as my default. Didn’t have to scurry back go Google for answers. People aren’t using it, I’d argue, because Google still works perfectly well for them.

    Matt is a nice guy. As for the jarring and jolting comment, I was sitting right next to him when he made it. I didn’t think he was smug at all with it.

    I also think that if people actually understood the sheer amount of crap he deals with, they’d better understand what an incredible diplomat he is. Any number of times (and I’ve witnessed this), he’ll patiently hear someone’s story about how they’ve done absolutely nothing wrong in terms of Google’s guidelines, then as he investigates, it becomes really clear they’ve knowingly lied.

    It is no easy task when there are only 10 listing for any search (more or less) and a change means that some are going to lose out and insist that you’ve done something unfair — but never, ever going to acknowledge if results are better elsewhere, better for that search or that yeah, I probably should get dropped.

    What I’d like to see Google do (and this falls really to Matt’s department) is to give better clarity about what exactly is wrong with a site and yep, whether it should just give up and start over. I’ve said this to him multiple times, privately and publicly.

    Google’s fear (and it’s a fair one) is that the more they open up, the more they enable people who really will go to any extreme to rank, regardless of the quality of their content.

    So, it’s been kind of a stalemate, though Google actually has opened up in ways that anyone who was around in the early 2000s would have never imagined.

  • Danny Sullivan

    I think the first question is why do you have all these sites? My guess is that you figured having a bunch of sites would give you more opportunities to be found. But is there really a solid reason you need an entire site for behavior charts as opposed to one for free printables?

    Google’s looking to reward strong sites with a solid purpose to exist. The interlinking probably isn’t being punished — it’s probably that you’re just not getting as much credit as in the past. That makes sense, if you think about it — why would Google want to count people who effectively vote for themselves so strongly.

    My advice would be to pick the strongest of your sites, the one that best encompasses all the topics and which seems to generate the most traffic from Google, and stick with that. Redirect all the other sites to point to it.

  • Danny Sullivan

    Can you click on my name in the article, then follow through to my contact for an email. It’s going to be easier than trying to explore in comments. The copyright pushback is potentially warning sign. Google Search is separate from AdSense, but it might see some of the same signals causing concerns.

  • Cesar Bielich

    I know that Penguin seems like an impossible task to recover from like many have talked about, almost list a myth but I can tell you that you can recover from Penguin for sure. I was hit with it and after the Oct 5th update I have seen a slow but definite recovery with daily progress. Its not impossible, you just have to make sure all your ducks are in a row :(

  • Blas Giffuni

    It’s funny to see how Google said that impact to Spanish queries were around ~0.4% when Google’s quality of results is poor for Spanish, specially for the US.

  • Dean Calvert

    @Danny Sullivan, I have a question Danny. My main keyword in my niche which I was #3 for months, I disappeared at 800 or so now. But, my related keyword am still on page one for many of them, not all. The new serps are not great, but since I am ranking well for the closely related searches does this mean my main keyword I may get rank back? I realize these shifts sometimes take weeks to sort out. Thanks in advance for reply

  • David Adams

    Pre-penguin3- my site was ranking well for most relevant keywords (example: migration agent sydney). Post-penguin3 it is not ranking for anything. It has not been taken off the index however it does not rank for anything in the top 100 any more, ALL rankings have been erased. I also have no warnings in my webmaster tool portal – how can G do this to small business?

  • Lennon Brent

    Yes Peter you are right but what we do. when our keywords are going good position on that time Google born new updates (algorithm) that time our keywords and our sites are go down n down…

  • Pixelrage

    Unfortunately, you kinda do need them. Google is that big scummy affiliate-hating corporation that you have to put up with.

  • Pixelrage

    Yes, Fortune 500′s.

  • Stephen Smiroldo

    I have been developing an eCommerce site for which was dramatically affected by the October 5 change. The development in process was to a more advanced payment/viewing/price system using Frustrating that Google has the power they do. Not sure how to work around Google to help this business promote their product.

  • jnamaya

    @dannysullivan:disqus, it seems like you are a pretty good guy, so please help this other confused guy that lost rankings in Google for no known reasons. my site at prior to April 24ths was getting on average of 2,500 visits a day, but then came penguin and it brought it down to around 600 visits a day, now (October 20th ) the site went down to around 200 visits a day..

    I don’t know what’s going on, all I have done is write content ( not all might be top touch ) but all my post are originals and some of them took days to write, how come Google all the sudden decided my content is crap? I have checked all my incoming links ( not many, around 2,500 according to webmaster tools ) and all of them seem to be references from forums and posts from other legitimate bloggers.. I was making a few hundred bucks from adsense which was a sort of motivation for me ( you know, I’m human ) , now I’m disappointed….I started the site in 2008..

  • Brad Dalton

    I have sent you the login details. Did you you receive these? My email is

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  • chhetain yholmo

    what’s the solution of this update . does anyone know ?

  • Brad Dalton

    This is negative SEO. Contains a link ti an illegal file download next to a link to my old domain which is redirecting to my new domain

  • Geoff Lohrere

    One of my pages was penalised out of existance in April 2012 by Penguin but now it is back in first place with the blue links under it as very much loved by Google. How can it be bad one month and excellent a few months later with no changes?? I have also found Google disobeying robots.txt and indexing pages that they shouldn’t be. And on their forum they say it is because they cannot read the “noindex” because it is blocked by robots.txt but they read it anyway so how can that be? And to state another obvious point, if robots.txt blocks a page, then isn’t it blatently obvious that you do not want it indexed??? So I physically blocked the pages with mod_rewrite and the next thing I found was Google trying to gain access through FTP on my server!!! What on earth are they up to? I also had Zonealarm saying that some Google software wanted acess to the net and yet I have no Google software installed and never have. Are they putting spyware out there now as well? Something is very wrong here and there can be no doubt that Matts changes are seriously flawed. I am now using Bing and helping them make changes for the better an I am finding excellent results. is now the best choice I have found. Since the results are instelligent and stable in Bing, what can we do to make it more popular and then we no longer have to do the Google dance?


    this update affected me positively and as for those who have not been able to recover their places should learn to detect negative links, google now has its links disavoid tool that can be very useful if the site has many links to spam, it is important generate good content, and that sounds old content is the king

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