Sites braced for Penguin update impact

Mon 8th of October 2012, filed under SEO

Cutts breaks the news on Twitter

Google's latest Penguin update has begun its "data refresh" over the weekend, as a slight change to the algorithm caused concern among site owners.

Matt Cutts, Google's renowned anti-spam engineer, tweeted information about the changes on Friday, telling followers that they would noticeably affect just 0.3 per cent of English language queries.

His announcement drew an instant reaction, as many of his followers sought more detailed information.

One issue raised that will perhaps be of most interest to site owners concerned a definition of what Google actually means by 'noticeably affected'. Cutts' response confirmed that the term refers at least in part to results found "above the fold" - that is, those appearing in the top five.

He explained: "Swapping a #10 result for a different #10 result might not be noticeable. Swapping out in (say) top 5 ->more noticeable."

Cutts also revealed that the update would affect less than 0.4 per cent of Spanish sites, under 0.3 per cent of Italian sites and 0.4 per cent of French sites.

Second update as Google targets web spammers

This is the second update to the Penguin algorithm since it launched in April 2012 as a follow up to Panda. The first incarnation affected 3.1 per cent of sites, while the first tweaks in May reportedly hit less than 0.1 per cent.

Penguin has become a source of concern to site owners for a number of reasons. Firstly, those who have engaged in 'bad' linking practices, keyword stuffing or other tactics frowned upon by Google were the main targets, and as such would have worried about plummeting in the rankings.

However, those sites that were doing everything by the book were also worried that they may become 'collateral damage' and suffer an undeserved drop in ranking that may be difficult to repair.

Daniel Nolan, managing director at theEword, said: "While Matt Cutts has been at pains to point out that this latest Penguin change will probably go unnoticed by many, past experience means that this is unlikely to stop site owners from fretting. Of course, with the right SEO strategy, the likelihood is that sites will not be hit."

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