Google Confirms Penguin 3.0 Update, Here’s The Reaction So Far

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Google Confirms Penguin 3.0 Update, Here’s The Reaction So Far

A Google representative has confirmed what has been the subject of much speculation over the weekend — a Penguin 3.0 update was rolled out on Friday. This marks the first update to the Penguin algorithm in over a year.

On October 9th at Pubcon Las Vegas, Bruce Clay stated during one of his sessions on link building that sources led him to believe that a Penguin update would be coming within the next 10 days. Less than 10 days later a Penguin update was rolled out, so how’s that for a prediction!

At this time, few details are available from Google other than the fact that an update was rolled out. What percentage of search results it’s expected to affect is still unclear at this time. However, that doesn’t mean SEOs can’t do their own digging and retrieve their own data.

Here’s The Reaction So Far

This afternoon on Twitter, Moz’s Cyrus Shepard published a collection of screenshots showing data from various SEO reporting tools:

Strange data indeed, as some reporting stations are showing sharp inclines, some are showing sharp declines, and others aren’t showing much of a fluctuation at all.

Is there a possibility that this iteration of Penguin is eluding the SEO volatility tools? Russ Jones of Virante has speculated as much:

Dr. Pete Meyers of Moz has been dissecting the data and claims to have seen no signs of any large-scale shakeup in the SERPS:

Meyers followed up earlier this afternoon stating the data he’s seeing is unlike other Penguin updates thus far:

In-House Reports

SEJ Founder, Loren Baker, ran the data for the sites he manages and said he hasn’t seen any fluctuations in rankings that would suggest any of his sites got hit. SEJ’s Managing Editor, Kelsey Jones, also went over the data for the sites she manages and found her clients weren’t hit either:

“None of my clients were hit by this recent update. All their websites are built on WordPress and I try to work with them on blogging regularly, which I think helps keep traffic either grow or hold steady throughout the seasons.”

Kelsey also provides her advice on protecting your sites from these unpredictable Google updates:

“Amazing content is the only thing that is Google update-proof. Google will never penalize useful, unique content that the user is actually looking for. Instead of spending your time on trying to beat Google algorithms, you should be focusing on asking yourself what your ideal end user really wants. After all, that’s what Google is doing. If you aren’t sure what type of content would go over best with your audience, run a reader survey, put yourself in their shoes, or answer the question in a way that blows your competitors’ out of the water.”

Two weeks ago at Pubcon, Kelsey had the opportunity to interview Jenny Halasz of JLH marketing. In the video below, at around the 4 minute mark, Jenny explains how she helps her clients prepare for major Google algorithm updates:

I spoke with Brent Csutoras, co-founder of Alpha Brand Media and SEJ’s social media strategist, and he explains how peoples’ link building efforts could lead to them getting inadvertently penalized by Penguin:

For years Matt Cutts and other visible search engine employees have supported the use of social media marketing to get natural links. The issue is really when people take that extra step to try to influence the link instead of letting the content natural earn the links it deserves.

For instance, Infographics are great for getting good natural links, but it becomes a problem for Google when people start slipping SEO links into the embed codes or they start paying sites to publish them and provide a link back to their client.

Penguin‘s refresh just further demonstrates their dedication and focus to eliminate any manipulation in the link building process, pushing people to focus more on quality content and content marketing practices.

The fact that we’re seeing few reports leaning to either extreme, either sites getting massively boosted or sites getting massively downranked, is a good sign for now. Of course, all this data should be taken with a grain of salt until Google publishes their own announcement.

While Google has confirmed the existence of a Penguin update, until they publish their own announcement we don’t know whether or not this update is still rolling out. If it’s still rolling out, we may have yet to see the full impact of Penguin 3.0.

I have reached out to Google and look forward to updating everyone with more details on Penguin 3.0 as soon as they are obtained.

Matt Southern
Matt Southern has been the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal since 2013. His passion for helping people in all aspects of online marketing... Read Full Bio
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  • Ayaz Malik

    A little drop in my search traffic compared to last week, but i wouldn’t consider that due to penguin. will see and compare in a few more days.

    • Matt Southern

      Thanks for your input, Ayaz! Please keep me posted as you gather more data over the next few days.

      • Ayaz Malik

        Hey Matt, pretty much the same thing 🙂
        guess am in the safe zone

    • Jenny

      Mine also dipped starting Friday through the weekend. It has started to climb back up to “normal” zone. Fluctuations are normal but this was a large dip. Luckily looks like it’s growing again.

  • Dan Petrovic has updated, we roll out data once per day. The lag you may have seen is due to the fact that we mainly track Australian results.

    • Kelsey Jones

      This could be a really helpful tool for US users too. Thanks for sharing Dan!

    • Zeal Caiden

      All our traffic is up across our sites and client sites! Only 1 client site still sticking, but their domain was penalized and seems to still be penalized despite solid white hat consistency. Womp womp :-/

  • Alan Bleiweiss

    I am pretty sure most of the monitoring systems haven’t seen a seismic change is this version of Penguin went mostly after mostly complete garbage sites, and has a far smaller impact on legitimate “collateral damage” type sites. When the majority are pure garbage that was just cluttering the index, its going to be less observable, and more subtle to main stream view. I also think the rollout was actually spread out over a couple days.

    As for “legitimate” sites that got hit by the previous Penguin and why large numbers aren’t seeing major improvements is obvious. They were ranking artificially before. All those atificial signals had to becremoved or disavowed, so there’s no reason they deserve significant improved rankings.

    • Kelsey Jones

      Couldn’t have said it better if I tried. 🙂

  • Jan-Jan Defante

    What a good news for us! this is probably be the reason why our rank suddenly went up again.

    • Matt Southern

      That’s good to hear! Hearing about a webmaster’s hard work paying off is my favorite part of algorithm updates

  • Mahesh

    So far, I only see little effect on my website.

    • Matt Southern

      Good or bad?

  • Akhilesh Gupta

    After looking at your article, i must say it will going to surprise and the result is going to be different from the last time pengium updates.
    Please keep updating about it.

  • Kera

    Traffic to all my sites in India have increased by 20%. One of these sites have been affected by both manual and algorithmic penalty earlier and we worked very diligently to remove all the links. We completed the removal in July and was waiting for Google to roll out an update,

    Thanks Google. Going forward a better strategy is to do artificial link checking every now and again. Penguin updates are infrequent and unpredictable so when they do happen it means you’re clear and Google does eventually reward that.

    • Matt Southern

      Thanks for that, Kera! Glad to hear your hard work paid off. What specific tool were you using for artificial link checking?

  • Soumya

    It was a much wanted update to clean the SERP. We are seeing a lots of changes on SERP in India for different search terms. Still all good results. There should be an EMD update soon.

  • Sachin


    yes.. update is rolling out and thanks God, its good one. Most of our websites are in top 20 results now.

    Thanks Google

  • Dan Zito

    MozCast did’t shown any hotter / big weather report on these days. Completely failure. “Google Confirmed its Update”. By the way, A little drop for my site in Traffic and ranking in Google SERPs.

  • Mousumi Saha

    I’m not sure if the sudden surge in the organic traffic is due to Penguin 3.0. Usually, on weekends, my blog witnessed the lowest traffic but since yesterday it is ascending. I need to monitor it and see if it maintains the momentum 🙂

  • Al Gomez

    It’s the 6th update since the first penguin update. And though the impact is not as great as penguin 1.0 but those who are hit by this update might have some hard getting on the track once again since they have to wait for another update to see any improvement in their traffic.

  • Marcus

    You have to wonder if we have seen the full impact or roll out of this algorithm yet. We monitor a few niches with clear spam increasingly dominating over the last 12 months and very little change. We have a few clients who have done some rather diligent clean ups and have a few specific markers and nothing has changed.

    I think Alan makes a good point in that a lot of sites that were penalised were garbage so just removing the penguin anchor won’t result in wondrous results but for every site like this there legit businesses that made some bad decisions and these are the ones we are seeing very little change with.

    Given the comments regarding how some folks would be ‘delighted’ with this update I would have expected some of the businesses that have made good on cleaning up their act to see more than we have seen so far.

    Maybe this is a very different animal and it will take a while for us to see and understand the full impact. I have a feeling it will be an interesting month.


    • Matt Southern

      That must be frustrating to see, Marcus. But as you said, we likely haven’t seen the full impact yet. Hopefully your clients end up seeing some change as the algorithm continues to roll out.

    • Alan Bleiweiss

      John Mueller initially stated it was rolled out, then mid-morning today said he may have spoken prematurely about it being fully rolled out.

  • Chris

    I noticed this morning that a client we have been working on that had a severe Penguin penalty saw rankings increases from 3rd page to 1st page across several keywords. Checked to see if Penguin 3 was released and sure enough. Even though others are seeing limited recovery, I think it’s still way to early to analyze as Google may be still rolling out the changes. Then comes testing and tweaking so it might be a while before everyone feels the affects.

    Chris Gregory
    DAGMAR Marketing

    • Alan Bleiweiss

      I think some of it has to do with other signals being strong enough to help the recovery. A bad site that only had bad links removed is not likely to see strong bounce from this, though as always, Google causes crazy results sometimes…

    • Mandy Jhons

      Yes, same thing happened with my such a site. Thanks to Penguine 3.0

  • Kamalesh

    It is a good time release penguin update. Since the last penguin update still there are so many websites performing by optimizing for the variations of the business anchor texts.

  • Michael I


    Fantastic article, we thought we saw some rankings bumping around a little bit (we are in the press release distribution industry).

    You nailed it as far as quality content goes, and rumor also has it, this does not just include content present on your site, but posts within a blog, or articles as well. If you also use a press release service, this is important too (from what we have heard). Content is definitely king. The nice thing is that we have also noticed much better quality press releases as of recent!

    Thank you for the post Matt!

    24-7 Press Release Newswire

  • Nick Stamoulis

    “Instead of spending your time on trying to beat Google algorithms, you should be focusing on asking yourself what your ideal end user really wants.”

    Exactly. There is no way to “beat” Google, so just stop trying! Focus on creating a great user experience and SEO results will follow naturally.

    • Kelsey Jones

      I’m glad you liked my insight, Nick! So true.

  • Jason picked this update up in real time as it happened, as well as several others for the past two and a half years. We actually notified our members Saturday morning about the change.

    The argument isn’t about “garbage” sites only being hit, or only agencies who perform client work seeing the impact, it’s about getting all the data you can when it happens so you can make adjustments if needed.

    Tracking only your URL in the SERPs and watching for movement, or only tracking a small sample of keywords in 1 country, doesn’t provide marketers all the data they need to spot trends, changes, and actionable data.

  • M. Rameez Ul Haq

    Few of my clients sites got hit and on many sites I am seeing traffic incline. Has anyone could find out what type of links google is targeting this time ?

  • Mike

    Traffic normally lower down on weekends, can’t say anything until observing for couple of week days.

  • Ghan Bavadiya

    10% of my clients were affected with this update. I have done research on those who were affected and who got improvement. Only difference is content and regular blogs. Client which we are posting blogs regularly were not affected but improved by few percentage.

  • Swayam Das

    Noticed an impressive jump in rankings for 60% of my websites! The rest have moved 3-5 spots. According to my observations, I think this update was moreover a algorithm tweak rather than a full roll-out. Some of the competitor websites have moved 7-20 spots but nothing like the first Penguin update.

    • Neil

      The same thing happened with my sites as well. Some of the churn and burn sites obviously burned out but they had already served their purpose. High quality sites have stood the test of times btw

  • Ravi

    Hi Matt Southern

    Thanks for sharing this information Matt Southern.

  • James Watkins

    I hear that they will be making tweaks to the Penguin algorithm more often, does anyone know if there is any truth to this?

  • Yaniv

    Kelsey is right , only great content can be seen as Google update-proof .

  • Marshall

    I am bit confused here, i found there is huge drop on some of my keywords and some other are stable for same website. Is my website also hit by this update?

  • Raghuveer Singh

    I wonder what kind of effect does Penguin 3.0 have on my WordPress sites. Can anyone care to explain?

  • Alfredo

    We have seen important changes on some clients websites. Some keywords positions have changed : +10 +20 +30 or -10 -20 -30

    And we are not surprised : old and quality content driven websites with only natural links have increased, and recent, small, niche websites with mostly directories or bad links have decreased.

    I’m surprised some people did not see evident changes. (we monitor +300 keywords positions (between position 1 and 100) and yes many of them have changes, but mainly keywords that were in position 20 to 100)

    First page keywords were less impacted.

  • Clint Lenard

    I have a website that has great, useful content, yet it was hit hard. 80% decrease in traffic, although it’s gone up 10% over the past 24 hours. It appears to be moving upwards, albeit very slowly. I took a look at GWT and noticed a few suspect links that I definitely didn’t obtain myself… other than that, I suspect it’s mostly bad luck in this case, as some of my lower quality sites (not on the same server) have gone up slightly.


  • jenjay

    *Sigh*- the thing is Google will always be required to do updates because of these little clever spammers roaming the search engines. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined infographics being tweaked- I need to do further readings on SEO. All I can say my friend is I am still stuck in 2009 when SEO was simple- textual content- no images, videos and other types of contents.

  • Mursaleen Kamal

    Big Change in My Blogging Website How Can i Recover to this Disaster?

  • Muhammad Tahir

    My website little bit facing Google Penguin update. What should i do now?

  • tran cong nghiep

    I don’t know why my website search on Google is having some problems. A few days ago, some keywords appears on top one. After that all my keyword search on Google no longer display my site, as if my website doesn’t exist. Can any one please help me solve this problem?

  • Gaurav

    no dip in sites noticed so far, guess we are in the safe zone, some low PR competitor sites have not been crawled since 21st Oct 2014, but still high in rankings, does anyone has an answer to this?

  • davinder

    i think 3.0 penguin is Good For my websites I seen my visitors are increased then now Only Spam free sites can rank better

  • Shanow

    I Also think 3.0 penguin is being Good For my blog, i have seen lots of visitors are visiting my blog after this update.

  • Mickie Kennedy

    Traffic dropped, sure, but it’s also a very affirming, reassuring thing to see. Sure, I’m a webmaster and business owner, but I’m also just a guy trying to use Google to get … real results from searches I make. And Google updates are consistently turning the odds of that happening in the average Joe’s favor.