2013 Penguin Update

Warning – Major Google Update On the Way (Again!)

I’m going to start off with an apology today, as it seems that it’s impossible to write a post these days without the mention of a Google update, either the fallout or implications usually, but today it’s about preempting one which hasn’t even happened yet!

Ever since Google’s Matt Cutts mentioned there would be a significant Penguin update in 2013 at SMX (I think) in March this year, everyone is already talking about the next big conspiracy theory and how much Google hates them and their website.

The fact is that Google was almost certainly going to roll out another Penguin update this year, as they no doubt will do with Panda updates too! The thing which got me thinking was why would they tell us? OK it’s possible that Matt is just a really nice guy and wants to help us all out with our optimisation, and while I actually believe there is some truth in that I don’t think that’s the real reason….

The disavow tool was launched last year (just in case you don’t know, this is a tool for telling Google about links to your website which you would like them to ignore, ones from previous bad linking practices and the likes) I wrote about it at the time and expressed my concerns about it not being quite what it was made out to be.  Since then I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s main purpose is to identify link networks and individual link farms.

Imagine Google receives a disavow request from 10, 100 or 1000 sites all requesting that links from a particular site are ignored because they are unnatural links which the site owners are worried could cause them a penalty in the future. It’s highly likely that Big G will take a look at the site, either manually or algorithmically and check it’s quality, if it’s not up to scratch they De-index it completely. So essentially they have now got the web community doing some of their hard work for them for free.

Now consider that Penguin has been around for a while, everybody in the website/ SEO community know about it and probably know someone who’s suffered from it already, some rightly some not. (for anyone who doesn’t know, in short, Penguin penalises sites for bad linking practices, it’s a bit more complex than that but that’s essentially what it does)

I don’t personally think it’s a coincidence that Matt mentioned an update for this year, apparently he said it would be a

big one, and it will target link networks particularly hard.  So what does everyone do? They rush off and Disavow any links which they are worried they may get a penalty for, which is pointing at their site. This in turn will give Google a huge glut of data to work with, so it’s probable that the next Penguin update will be a big one, because Google have made the algorithm stricter? Well yes possibly, but also because everyone has been frantically feeding them the data they need to have maximum impact since the announcement in March this year.

On a completely unrelated note, at least the sun is out now, perhaps we will have a proper summer this year!

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4 thoughts on “2013 Penguin Update

  1. Nicola says:

    Many big sites are hit hard by this changes, so these updates can be an opportunity to rank for some profitable keyword which seem to be impossible before.

    • Steve says:

      Hi Nicola,

      Yes very true, when some websites suffer an equal number will take their place and benefit from the updates. It all comes back to doing SEO right in the first place, then you become one of the winners every time there’s an update.


  2. Shannon says:

    Can you tell me why it’s always UK, Australian and Canadian SEO’s who always know these things? My site was hit not long after your post date, how did you know?

    • Steve says:

      Hi Shannon,

      Well, much as I would love to take the credit for being so ahead of the game that I could predict upcoming updates, I can’t. The news initially came from Matt Cutts, a Google employee, who is actually from America 🙂


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