Google Penguin 2.0 Goes Deep - But What Does That Mean?

May 24, 2013 • 8:56 am | comments (37) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Penguin DiveAs you know, Penguin 2.0 #4 is live and webmasters and SEOs are buzzing about that. The thing is, some misconceptions about Penguin 2.0 are driving me absolutely crazy.

Matt Cutts, in his video about this update, talks about how Penguin 2.0 will be "more comprehensive," how this version "goes deeper" and will result in "more of an impact" than Penguin 1.0.

The SEO community is translating "goes deeper" to mean that Penguin 1.0 only impacted the home page of a web site. That is absolutely false. Deeper has nothing to do with that. Those who were hit by Penguin 1.0 know all to well that their whole site suffered, not just their home page.

What Matt meant by "deeper" is that Google is going deeper into their index, link graph and more sites will be impacted by this than the previous Penguin 1.0 update. By deeper, Matt does not mean how it impacts a specific web site architecture but rather how it impacts the web in general.

For example, Ross Hudgens tweeted "Penguin 1 targets homepage, 2 goes "much deeper." I said back no and ended at that. But he and others did not get it. The WebmasterWorld thread has webmasters confused about it also, where someone said "I don't understand this idea that Penguin 1.0 just looked at the home page." You are right, it is completely wrong to think that way.

Normally I don't get heated up about misconceptions in the industry - but seriously.

Update: I see now where the confusion comes from, via TWIG, right over here where Matt said Penguin looks at the home page of the site. Matt must mean Penguin only analyzed the links to the home page. But anyone who had a site impacted by Penguin noticed not just their home page ranking suffer. So I think that is the distinction.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Image credit to BigStockPhoto for penguin dive

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Praveen Sharma

05/24/2013 01:09 pm

Thanks Barry for clearing such misconceptions among webmasters. Really, half knowledge is more dangerous than having none.


05/24/2013 01:33 pm

I was hoping for a cartoon Barry all hulked out as the picture after reading the snippet. Barry mad!

Ross Hudgens

05/24/2013 01:45 pm

To clarify for people reading this here (which I also offered on Google Plus), the reason I put that was definitely because I took my quote from Matts' video when tweeting it out. Whether or not it's true I don't know, but clearly in the video he says homepage, and that Penguin 2.0 goes deeper.

Ved Tiwari

05/24/2013 02:25 pm

This update was not only limited to home page of website only instead targeted almost all pages of website. But interestingly the penalty was given to each URL separately on the bases of spam linking to that particular page... You can find home page with hard penalty, any other page with medium penalty and few pages on same website without any penalty. Thats totally counted on the bases of spam links all individual web pages had on any particular website...


05/24/2013 02:55 pm

Who ever wrote this is a freaking idiot. I mean, this is the type on content that should be penalized. I could write a better article with my dick.


05/24/2013 03:16 pm

Hey dipshit. Where can we find your penis penned prose in a search result? Google led me to this article.


05/24/2013 03:18 pm

I don't see Penguin 2.0 causing more impact, actually I think this is the least impacting update, comparing to 1.0 I see very few people seeing changes to their sites with this update.


05/24/2013 03:29 pm

you could, but it would have to be a short article

Mark Daoust

05/24/2013 03:39 pm

I've reviewed dozens of websites that were impacted by Penguin 1.0. The first penguin was *definitely* not just the homepage. It was usually the whole site or entire sections of a site. The signature was pretty easy to tell...


05/24/2013 04:00 pm

Some people still think that writing long stories is a novel idea.


05/24/2013 06:15 pm

Barry used to do it that way, but he kept breaking the keyboard. When the tab le finally gave way he realized that there had to be another way.


05/24/2013 07:58 pm

I'm sure you could go deeper with it.


05/24/2013 08:23 pm

Probably just means they are using more signals.


05/24/2013 09:57 pm

From the get go, I presumed that "deeper" meant that G would look at where links were coming from and what the links to those links looked like too, ie. link pyramids or linkwheels, etc. If you've got some "kosher" links to your website, but they're supported by not so great links, these "first line of defense" links would then lose a lot of their oomph.

Michael Martinez

05/25/2013 12:44 am

Barry, I love you just for putting up with all the crap that you endure.

Eric Ward

05/25/2013 02:40 am

Bingo! Most accurate reply I've seen.

Jeniffer Maben

05/25/2013 07:40 am

I don't have luck to find a single thread or discussion to get rid of this tough situation. Problem is everywhere but where is solution. If you have a big portal/website, how could it be possible to identify harmful back links. Only disavow is not enough. disavow is beneficial when you sure about bad links. Google is very materialistic and money minded. If any website have million organic traffic, I am sure Google will keep a vigil eye on that and decrease traffic in every updates so that that website take help of Google's paid campaign. This is the time, we users should think about option of Google.

Ved Tiwari

05/25/2013 12:12 pm

Thanks Eric :)

Marie Haynes

05/25/2013 02:12 pm

I feel like I am missing something here. In the video ( Matt says, "The previous iteration of Penguin would essentially only look at the home page of a site. The newer generation of Penguin goes much deeper." He was pretty clear that Penguin originally only affected the home page. However, if your home page had a large number of spammy links pointing to it and those links were affected by Penguin then this will reduce the amount of PageRank that flows to the home page and subsequently to your inner pages. I am thinking that this is why people noticed that inner pages suffered with the initial Penguin rollout.

John Britsios

05/25/2013 03:20 pm

Very well done Barry! I went mental when I heard a prominent SEO spreading that garbage. But that is sad state of our industry.


05/25/2013 04:14 pm

"He was pretty clear that Penguin originally only affected the home page." He never said that. You even quoted him saying that "Penguin would essentially only look at the home page of a site." Google could easily "look" at the home page and decide to ding the entire site. Matt is usually very careful in choosing his words and says just what he means. Substituting or misinterpreting his words tend to lead to confusion and misinformation.

Doc Sheldon

05/25/2013 05:37 pm

Jim, you might want to listen to Matt again, he did, in fact, say "The previous iteration of Penguin would essentially only look at the home page of a site... the newer generation of Penguin goes much deeper...". Marie quoted him accurately in that regard. Reading into his statement that Penguin ONLY AFFECTED the home page, however, might be a stretch, knowing Matt's usual pinpoint accuracy in his statements. The algo could, I suppose, only look at the home page and outbound links on that page to internal pages. That seems to be over-analyzing, though. Matt is indeed extremely careful in choosing his words. I've tried many times to find inaccuracies in his statements after people go off on a tangent, reading more into his remarks than is really there. I've yet to catch him in a porky. So I'm firmly in Ross's camp on his impressions of Matt's statement. It definitely doesn't make sense, though, when looking at many site issues I've seen from previous Penguin smashes. I just find it difficult to imagine that Matt slipped horribly in his statement, after a fairly spotless record of accuracy.


05/25/2013 06:03 pm

Doc, I didn't say Marie didn't quote accurately quote him, she got it 100%. I even stated that she quoted him and didn't say she did so inacurrately. My quibble was that she then interpreted "looked at" as "affected," which Matt definitely did not say. And I'm not sure what camp Ross is in right now because his clarifying comment below appears to reiterate his original tweet (Penguin 1 targets homepage...) which, again, is not what Matt said. As Barry said in his post, "Those who were hit by Penguin 1.0 know all to well that their whole site suffered, not just their home page," is something we know as fact.

Ayesha Ambreen

05/25/2013 07:13 pm

Jeniffer, The problem is not with the Google being materialistic or money minded, the problem is, people like us (who are running Websites) rely too much on Google. Google Search and Google's paid program are two different things, they have different audience (potential customers) and different markets to cater to. Google search is all about providing people with the right results (by people I mean end users here) ... Whereas, Google Adwords and other paid ads are there to help companies get desired traffics. If you wish to rule Google search, perhaps the best approach is to think exactly how Matt Cutts and his Web spam team thinks -- i.e. focus on quality content, make navigation and interface of the Website as plain as possible, and do not try to manipulate end-users. Hope this helps.

Marie Haynes

05/25/2013 10:14 pm

This is a really good discussion and I think if we knew which answer here was correct then we would have a much better understanding of how to deal with Penguin hit sites. I think the phrase that Penguin used to "only look at the home page of a site" could mean either: a) Only the home page could be directly affected by Penguin (but the reduction in PageRank could still trickle down to inner pages.) b) Only the home page is looked at to determine whether the whole site is affected by Penguin. My gut instinct tells me that A is correct. I have seen Penguin hit sites where inner pages could still rank. It's a bit of a rarity because it's uncommon to see a site with spammy links to the homepage and natural links to inner pages (and enough natural links that it can give the page enough PageRank to do well without help from the home page), but I think that it can happen. Now in my mind the question is what Matt means when he says that Penguin 2.0 goes deeper. My interpretation would be to say that it now looks at links to inner pages so that if an inner page was blasted with spammy links then it will not rank. But it could mean a multitude of things.


05/26/2013 12:40 am

Matt Cutts is more of a PR person - even he doesn't know what's coming in many cases.

Doc Sheldon

05/26/2013 01:04 am

I don't think it's accurate to call Matt only a "PR person", @tomshark:disqus. That's very much a collateral function for him, and one that I'd wager is unofficial, at that. ;) I find it hard to imagine that the previous Penguin runs were only looking at (and affecting) the homepage. I've seen too many instances of internal pages taking severe hits, even though the homepage was only mildly affected. That's what makes this so perplexing. Hopefully, Barry will be able to get some clarification from Matt, so we can start cleaning up the misconceptions, whichever they are. And by the way, I have to agree with Michael about how you put up with a lot of crap here, Barry...


05/26/2013 03:32 am

Well said totally agreed Google has no site standards when it comes to ppc or other paid adds no matter how bad contents you have on your site you I'll be the top guy to compete even higher valued sites.


05/26/2013 05:46 am

Barry writes an article based on what a PR whore named Cutts said. Now that's useful. Matt lies to cover up what Google is doing


05/26/2013 05:47 am

He gets paid handsomely for this

Barry Schwartz

05/26/2013 11:21 am

I do?

Dave Fowler

05/26/2013 02:29 pm

Of course 'go deeper' could also mean 'look at more, and more detailed, factors'. For example, Penguin 1.0 may have looked at things like % of exact match anchor text within external link profiles, whereas Penguin 2.0 might look at % of native language anchor text coming from foreign language websites, etc etc. I don't think that is a real life example, by the way, I just use it for illustration purposes. As an aside, does anyone else have the impression that, whatever 2.0 is targeting, there doesn't seem to have been the impact we were all anticipating, considering the rhetoric that preceded it?


05/27/2013 05:03 am

So does this mean that penguin 2.0 not harm inner page of website?

Justin Clark

05/27/2013 01:07 pm

I have lost my inner pages ranking in penguin update.

Jack SEO Consultant - Eemes

05/29/2013 09:44 am

Very interesting subject about Home page stuff. I think google has focused on home page link spam! Which means if you have lots of links on the home page which looks spammy or looks like a garbage of links then i definitely think that google is having a watch on it. Its not that google penguin2.0 ignores the inner links. No way, but its only that this algo is more focused on link spam, and google targets only those areas which are highly susceptible for link spam & home page is one of them.


05/29/2013 10:39 am

explains a lot about your condition..

Lizel Wrighte

05/31/2013 12:05 am

Correct me if I'm wrong. Penguin 2.0 aims to, if not to totally eradicate, at least decrease the rankings of the websites that violate the Webmaster Guidelines. So Penguin will not just snoop the homepage but the whole site, right?

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