No matter that it’s late Friday night on the start of a three-day holiday weekend in the U.S., Google has just pushed out the first update to its recent webspam-fighting Penguin algorithm. Let’s call it Penguin 2.
Google’s Matt Cutts announced the news a short time ago on Twitter, calling it a “data refresh” that impacts less than one-tenth of a percent of English-language searches.
Minor weather report: We pushed 1st Penguin algo data refresh an hour ago. Affects <0.1% of English searches. Context: goo.gl/4f7Pq
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) May 26, 2012
Although webmasters and SEOs have been speculating consistently in recent weeks that Google had already pushed out a Penguin update (or several), Cutts specifically says this is the first update since Penguin launched back on April 24th.
Penguin led to immediate outcries from across the SEO industry, with many questioning if it made search results better or worse. Because it’s an algorithmic change, Google said it wouldn’t consider reconsideration requests made via Webmaster Central, but it did setup a form for webmasters to use if they believe Penguin had hit their sites by mistake.
Even though tonight’s update affects a small percentage of English searches, that form is still online.
For more about the Penguin update, see the articles listed below.
Postscript From Danny Sullivan: In the comments below, you’ll see some people wondering if they haven’t recovered from this update, does that means they’ll never recover and should start over. I’d wait a bit longer before that.
After Penguin 1 came out, Google said that anyone hit by that had been penalized. But soon after, there were examples of sites that didn’t appear to be spamming Google but which yet had traffic drops.
A few of these might have been false positives, but it’s far more reasonable to assume that when Google wiped out wide swathes of links, some sites that used to benefit from those links lost credit. In other words, they weren’t penalized — they just didn’t get as much credit as before.
I’m still trying to get Google to confirm this or not, if everyone hit by Penguin 1.0 was really penalized or if there were some who just don’t get as much credit as before, because others were penalized. Stay tuned.
Postscript 2: See also First Report Of Google Penguin Recovery.
Postscript 3 (Oct. 5, 2012): Originally, we’d called this story “Google Releases Penguin Update 1.1,” but it’s since been changed to be Penguin 2.
We’ve begun numbering Panda updates sequentially (Panda 1, 2, 3….) rather than as “versions” with “point numbers” (Panda 2.2, Panda 3.5….) because it’s too difficult to tell what’s a “major” update from a “minor” one.
We’ve adopted that for Penguin, as well, which is why we’ve renamed this Penguin 2. And Penguin 3 is live.