For most people, a penguin is just a cute little perky aquatic animal that mostly dwells in Antarctica. But for much fewer people, a penguin associates with a vicious algorithm that resides within Google search engine. For those people, the Penguin is anything but cute or little…
Google’s Penguin update had been originally extricated into the search jungle on April 24th 2012, and its impact was promptly sensible by almost any site owner (for better or worse). The update’s goal was simple- to target websites which participates in all sorts of webspam activities, and as later it became clearer, mainly in artificial link building techniques.
According to Google’s head of webspam team Matt Cutts, The affect of the Penguin update variegated from 3% to 5% depends on the search queries language. The update itself doesn’t run constantly but only periodically, whenever the search team decides it’s time for a “data refresh” as they click on some update button (or a few).
Meaning, if a website got ensnared by the Penguin, it has to wait patiently until Cutts’ team will push the update button again even if supposedly it already emended all the deeds which led to the demotion. Theoretically, once a site fixed all the wrongs and the Penguin has been refreshed, it would have regained its prior rankings.
The problem is, it appears that the road to recovery from the Penguin is quite travail.
The first data refresh had arrived a month after the initial release, while Cutts stated that it had an impact of less than 0.1% on English queries. To say it in other words, its influence was only 2% to 3% as powerful as the Penguin’s birthing. Even if all this refresh impact were only attributed to sites’ recoveries, it still means that just a meager percentage had indeed recovered.
However, it is arguable that because people still tried to weigh and understand the Penguin during that period, they didn’t had much time to take too many repairing actions. That can explain why the first data refresh carried such a scant effect. So, affected site owners had to wait a bit longer for the next refresh. And wait… and wait…
To the agonizingly eagerness and anticipation of many, the second Penguin refresh only occurred on October 5th, about four and half months after the previous refresh. Lifetime in webmaster years. The general assumption at that awaiting time was that Google is working on a new alteration of the Penguin, which was also reinforced by Cutts’ statements, and therefore the long time gap.
Yet, no Penguin metamorphosis had happened, only a data refresh. And again, its impact was relatively negligible- 0.3% of English search queries. Just by strictly gauging the numbers, we can understand that there were just a few who escaped the solid talons of the Penguin.
Even if we accumulate both the first and second data refreshes percentages and attribute all of it to recoveries (without any sites’ degradation), at the best case scenario we will discover that 90% of all sites which were negatively impacted by the Penguin are still being held captive by its clinching paws.
In fact, I’d exhaustively scouted and combed SEO forums and blogs and hadn’t found any proven report of a recovered website, besides a few obscured reports from marketers that might have just made it up to inflate their own value. Up until now, there’s only one very public recovery story of WPMU.org. (if you have one please send it to me!)
The numbers don’t lie- if you’ve been hit by Google’s Penguin update, it’s almost like a life sentence without the possibility of parole. At least in the current form of the Penguin.
Photo credit: Aries C. Bautista