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How Google’s Penguin 3.0 Is Playing Out Across The Web
How has Penguin 3.0 resonated globally? Contributor Philip Petrescu of Advanced Web Ranking shares data on the algorithm update's impact.
There’s been a lot of debate about how big or small the latest Penguin 3.0 update was. This post won’t offer a measure, but will assemble the information we’ve gathered and suggest what may happen next.
I believe that the indisputable truth about Google’s updates belongs to Google only, and for all that we know, Penguin 3.0 impacted less than 1% of the English language queries. However, as with anything related to SEO, we can only take what we have and work ourselves out of the dark.
So, whenever big algorithmic changes are made, we gather every bit of information we can, then try to put the pieces together in order to understand what happened and what to expect next.
At my company, AWR, we have recently been performing some studies of our own on the impact of algorithm changes with the development of our latest Google Algorithm Changes tool.
According to the data we processed, was saw a very distinct fluctuation in rankings determined by Penguin 3.0, with the peak in ranking changes being recorded on October 18 and October 19. Overall, the changes came in at 4.4 on our scale of ranking changes.
For comparison, the highest ranking changes factor we’ve ever seen with our tool was 5.6 during the HTTPS/SSL as Ranking Signal update.
Some background: The Ranking Changes Factor is a metric we have calculated based on the changes we’ve seen in our data set, which includes 10,000 keywords and 500,000 URLs across various industries. The data is updated daily and shows the severity of the changes.
The Overall section (pictured above) shows the Ranking Changes Factor, which is computed using a proprietary algorithm. The Top 10-50 sections show the number of websites that have had their rankings changed (compared to the previous date) and the percentage (how many websites were affected from the total number of websites).
The more websites are affected, the higher the importance of the algorithm update. The blue line shows the organic visibility of all the websites that we track, rising when the sites experience higher rankings and lowering when the rankings drop.
Penguin 3.0 Hit Harder On Low-Ranking Websites
In addition to calculating the Ranking Changes Factor, we also wanted to take a closer look at the update’s impact across the search results spectrum. And so, we found that the turbulence generated by the update was heavier for pages that appeared beyond the second page of results.
Specifically, only 1 in 10 websites on the first page of search results (top 10) experienced changes that moved them 5 positions (screenshot-1). However, when you expand the scope to include the top 50 results, the number of websites impacted was considerably higher at 36.2% (screenshot-2).
The update did not generate a large number of dramatic changes within search engine results pages (SERPs). According to our data, fewer than 1 in 10 websites (7.7%) that ranked on the first page dropped by more than 10 positions after Penguin 3.0:
If this number were higher, we would be talking about disasters. A Top 10 listing experiencing a drop of more than 10 positions is kind of a big deal, while lower rankings are more volatile by nature.
Penguin Behaved Differently In Other Countries
All languages and regions around the world were affected by Penguin, as the update launched globally. However, what we found is that Penguin 3.0 behaved differently in countries outside of the U.S.
While on Google.com (in the U.S.) the damages of Penguin 3.0 were immediately seen on October 18, the update rolled out to other countries a bit more slowly. On Google UK, for example, the peak in turbulence was seen on October 20th:
Or take the case of Google Germany, where Penguin 3.0 did not lead to any big changes in search results:
Up until now, we have only processed data for a couple of countries, more as an experiment at first. But it proved to be an interesting direction for moving forward with our research, the data being extremely useful for people outside of U.S. to use as benchmark in times of ranking turmoil.
The Bottom Line
How much your site was impacted by Penguin 3.0 depends on the industry you’re in, the rankings you have, and the competition you’re sharing the SERP with (and potentially lots of other unknown factors).
You will never know for sure what happened unless you keep your eyes on Google. We will certainly do the same and share it with you if we spot anything out of the ordinary.
I hope you will share your thoughts, too, in the comments below and via Twitter (we’re using the hashtag #gac for Google Algorithm Changes).
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.