Google's Major Penguin Update Coming In Weeks. It Will Be Big!

May 13, 2013 • 9:07 am | comments (84) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google PageRank & Algorithm Updates

Google Penguin 4.0On Friday, Google's head of search spam, Matt Cutts announced on Twitter that the Penguin update we are expecting this year, will be coming in the next few weeks.

Matt Cutts said, "we do expect to roll out Penguin 2.0 (next generation of Penguin) sometime in the next few weeks."

This has sent shockwaves through the webmaster and SEO industry over the weekend. We know the next generation Penguin update is a major revision to the existing one. Matt said the previous ones were minor updates. To take you back, we had an update on May 24, 2012 and October 5, 2012. Matt said on Twitter that those were more minor, he would have named them 1.1 and 1.2 and that Google is naming this new update version 2.0.

We are calling it the 4th update to Penguin, but yea, this is expected to be huge. We past the anniversary of the Penguin update and many SEOs and webmasters have yet to recover.

Now with the next generation update, many SEOs are hopeful of recovery but terrified that their efforts will end up being futile. Why? Well, even if they did manage to clean up their sites and do everything to warrant a release of the initial Penguin algorithm, with the new algorithm in place, who knows what else they may have triggered.

Danny Sullivan has an excellent write up on this Penguin release and the history around it.

Trust me, I will be all over this when I see signs in the forums about this update. So stay tuned, brace yourself and trust me - webmasters will survive and grow from this.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help, WebmasterWorld and DigitalPoint Forums.

Update: Here is a video from Matt Cutts where he talks about Penguin 2.0, and many other topics. It was released today:

Image credit to BigStockPhoto for wide penguin

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05/13/2013 01:16 pm

"webmasters will survive and grow from this." Well said!


05/13/2013 01:32 pm

Bring it on Google, fun times ahead!

Praveen Sharma

05/13/2013 01:37 pm

Where is "Animal Welfare Society"? They should stop Google from making an animal bigger than it normal size (BIGGER Penguin this time).


05/13/2013 01:45 pm

Danny Sullivan sounds like a kid, who just studied to count and counts everything he can ... LOL )))


05/13/2013 01:49 pm

Barry, how did it come, that Squidoo and then you went "nofollow" right before the new Penguin ? Coincidence or insight ? )

Googleis rigged

05/13/2013 01:55 pm

shut up scroogler scum bag. Anti-SEO is a googler POS trying to justify Google's changes. Google is rigged, they favor advertisers, aka big brands.

Barry Schwartz

05/13/2013 01:58 pm

I was penalized before anyway, not sure what more could have happened.

Ajeet Pandey

05/13/2013 01:58 pm

Excited to get + or -.

Barry Schwartz

05/13/2013 01:58 pm

Danny should be respected.


05/13/2013 02:21 pm

I think there's 3 ways this could go, in order of magnitude: 1. Penguin hits any sites with a good percentage (25-40%+) of low quality links, blog network type of low quality guest posts. Essentially hitting the spammy paid link network model with low quality content and low trust domains. From hearing Cutts talk about taking big link networks down previously, it does seem like a lot of his team's time is focused on attacking link networks and signals for sites that sell links or low quality guest posts (note that even individual webmasters who sell links across multiple independent sites will be classed as a link selling network). 2. Penguin literally hits any sites who rely too heavily on even good quality guest posting as a main strategy or too many low quality directory submissions. Anything where there's a strong resemblance of link manipulation, regardless of whether the content is good or bad. I think it's hard to build up enough scale guest posting on high quality, editorial sites that would land you in trouble anyway, so I think the kind of thing that would be hit is where you have like 50%+ guest posts with links to your site. 3. Additional signals could come into play other than just links and content e.g. lack of co-citations, non-linked brand mentions, brand navigational queries, social signals. Personally, with a lot of cognizance, I think the original Penguin update targeted sites with low quality links making up too large a percentage of their backlink portfolio (I think there was a survey that said the tolerance was lowered to 40% or something). The new Penguin 2.0 will get better at finding more low quality sites, link selling sites and networks, as well as low quality guest posts and sites with low quality OBLs. I think guest posting by itself is not a spammy strategy, but you have to think about the signals Google will be using when considering if a guest post is high quality or not. e.g. is the website built for guest posts? What is the quality of OBLs? Does it have good social and brand signals? Is it relevant? Does it have good user signals scores? Do the guest posts receive backlinks?


05/13/2013 02:24 pm

I also think Penguin is inherently flawed if it's only released every 6 months. It's the equivalent of running a country with no police, but then arresting people that have broken the law every 6 months. It actually promotes short-term, blackhat SEO ranking techniques on disposable domains and web2.0 sites.


05/13/2013 02:43 pm

I'm guessing that the changes going to be on Link ratio and the quality of content which needs to be more human friendly!


05/13/2013 02:44 pm

I would always suggest fellow website owners to follow the fundamentals of SEO and never go for so called "shortcuts"....


05/13/2013 02:47 pm

re : " webmasters will survive and grow from this " That's for sure, but I would say, that this update will be very important for Google as well. What do we have at moment ? 1. obviously the idea of the social signals is overvalued. Google can't get enough trustworthy social signals to partially replace (or support) links related signals in algo. The signals they can get don't work as it was expected ; 2. obviously Google still can't devalue fake links, because these links are the majority and result of such move is almost unpredictable ; 3. obviously the amount of the fake links is still grows dramatically. I can't see any signs of the link building slow down on the related forums. People just discuss how to hide better. Keeping this in mind, I would say that Google must do the major move to slow down the fake links building. I mean really strong move. Otherwise, with the lack of the trustworthy social signals, the algo will be very unstable. The domination of the brands will increase much higher, leading to the direct access to their websites, without using of the Google's search. From the other hand, many of the latest Google's updates were ... questionable. They produced too many false positives. Means Googlers can't handle the whole spectrum of variables. I would even assume, that they lost the feeling of the eco system, they're trying to manage. Furthermore, there are still no strong evidences, that the social idea in general was good. Remember who was its pusher ? I would define this update as the major for the Google by itself.

Stephane Brault

05/13/2013 02:47 pm

Ok let's see. Do I build 4 disposable websites a year and generate over $200k (yes it is easily possible, been there...) or do I build one legitimate website that will take a year or two before I even start to see a dime? Hmmm...

Kevin Gerding

05/13/2013 02:49 pm

I think we can expect more whitelisted domains (big brands like Amazon, eBay, Wikipedia) to consume more real estate in the serps. They get scraped/link spammed like everyone else but get no penalties from it. I hope Google takes care of host crowding, but I'm not holding my breath that this will be addressed in this Penguin update. Seeing 20 or 30 positions for one domain out of the top 100 results is kind of ridiculous if you ask me. Currently there is no diversity in the serps and very few points of entry for small businesses - even if they have really high quality websites. Good luck to everyone!


05/13/2013 02:54 pm

I'm not very familiar with his activity, but what can I see isn't very impressive. Just another guy, trying to monetize on the uneducated market participants.


05/13/2013 03:15 pm

How come nobody focuses on the positives? Is it because there are general negative practices in SEO that result in the industry living in fear?

Jim Christian

05/13/2013 03:22 pm



05/13/2013 03:39 pm

oh no!


05/13/2013 03:39 pm

Looks like this update will wipe out a bunch of websites from the face of Google.

Raleigh Web Design

05/13/2013 03:40 pm

Better make sure you website is in top condition now!

Raleigh Web Design

05/13/2013 03:41 pm

That's true. A lot of these updates help weed out the spammers and help the folks who are actually doing white-hat SEO.


05/13/2013 03:49 pm

I have seen plenty of spammy websites rank well and good websites disappear during the first update ;)

Tony Baker

05/13/2013 03:59 pm

I was just watching a Matt Cutts video on this and my favorite part of the video is where Matt says "This is going to be fun". uh huh.. yep.. oh yeah. A blast! ;-)


05/13/2013 04:04 pm

Finally a correct assessment. Danny is a hack truing to sell overpriced SMX tickets, only morons believe him.

Richard Horvath

05/13/2013 04:06 pm

It's not only the quality of your website but the type of links pointing to your pages + the right coding. A great looking website with black-hat SEO and bad codes is not a great marketing tool.

Richard Horvath

05/13/2013 04:09 pm

You have nothing to afraid if you did your job right... and I'm sure you did.


05/13/2013 04:21 pm

"Fun" means a new growth of customers entering into PPC because their SEO was ruined. Fun means more money. I like having "fun", too.

Michael Martin

05/13/2013 04:57 pm

The big penguin announcement looks to be timed for his session at SMX Advanced in June Also Google I/O hints at a lot of Search changes for mobile & G+


05/13/2013 05:19 pm

" ... the users love, want to tell friends about, bookmark, come back to, visit over and over again ..." Good intentions, but poor results. Forums and kitty-show websites got the boost. Forum - is a gated community. Kitty-show - is a time waste website. Yes, people love them, tell friends about them, sure come back, visit over and over again .... but is it the signal of the good content ? Couple of days ago I searched something related to programming. Something very general. And on the first spot I got the result from the forum. Usually I avoid forums, cause it takes to much time to dig others flood, but decided to see what Google offers me. It was forum thread from 2004 ! Common, we're talking about programming ! One doesn't need to be a genius to understand, that programming in 2013 and in 2004 has a huge difference. It's simply dangerous to use tips from 2004 in 2013. But obviously users love this forum and share and return ..... Sometimes I really doubt, that googlers use their own search. But in general I like what Matt Cutts said. Sounds good. Hopefully it will work, because my personal feeling is that Google looses its credibility among all groups of the internet population. Will be like MSFT soon - products were used, because there were no other options. Products lost the market share immediately after the new options arrived.


05/13/2013 05:19 pm

He didnt mention anything about those trying to recover? Buried in Page 20+ of SERP's..... Uh Oh....

Mike Kalil

05/13/2013 05:51 pm

Google doesn't really care about code.

Mike Kalil

05/13/2013 05:55 pm

Dude works for Google and is wearing a Firefox t-shirt?


05/13/2013 07:13 pm

Cole Watts!


05/13/2013 07:47 pm

Matt, you talk about 3 results from same domain? How about 19 results from same domain on pages 2,3 and 4? Sick stuff. You must change your algo, otherwise yxou will kill Google search.

Graham Ginsberg

05/13/2013 09:54 pm

Thats because there is no recovery and this new release will put more into non-recovery mode. But if you're a big corporation like Trulia and Zillow, you'll be ok

Jim Christian

05/13/2013 10:49 pm

More PEW PEW less QQ people

Jack SEO Consultant - Eemes

05/13/2013 11:42 pm

Ok as per Matt cutts he is trying to focus how to improve Google's index. Now i am dam sure about few points which is positive and some -ve. 1) Visitors/USERS - Return visitor Google will give high importance, More unique visitors from different countries - so different users - priority users! 2) CONTENT - I can say quality content is always what google is looking for. Fresh content Google will always welcome from Authority sites! 3) AUTHORITY - Now i find here -ve part that google will give imp to more authority sites which means like branded ones will be given high importance? So wat about the new ones or the SMB Owners? 4) LINK Analysis - Google's target to hit spam severly - Blog LINKS, LINK NETWORK. One big thing will be the ADVERTISERS can be a big hit. Like many who do paid links or paid advertising. Passing link juice etc will be hit more, which means PR Drop will be seen. I definately feel that Google will give importance to new users if it can attract users, return users. Goal conversion, CTR wil play an important role which google is focusing on! 5) SOCIAL Signals - I feel here also Google will be focusing on users more who is attracting visitors for a particular industry!


05/14/2013 02:42 am

I think you hit the nail on the head. There are a lot of practices in SEO that are generally frowned upon - not just by Google but all of the major search engines. Those who panic have probably employed a few of those frowned-upon tactics at some point in time, and could be worried that it will come back to bit them. My thoughts are, if you're running your website the right way then you likely have very little to worry about. If you've been building backlinks from reputable sources, then you're unlikely to see any penalties. In fact, you may find that all of your hard work will finally start to pay off. I just encourage clients to stay focused on creating high-quality, original content that others in the industry would find worthy of sending a link to. Then promote that content and engage those who take the time to comment, retweet, share etc. I'm personally interested to see what the impact of this new version of Penguin will be. :)

Justin Clark

05/14/2013 04:47 am

Well it is not big update. it is the update that will ruined the remaining online business. Google already destroyed most of online business and want to clear their server to show those website in search results who will pay for paid campaign. seriously guys this is not the time to trust on Google. it has already destroyed UK business now turning to other regions.

Brian Mease

05/14/2013 06:53 am

Governments should penalize Google and block them for short periods like they do :P

Jarry Simon

05/14/2013 06:59 am

i m also aggry with you Brian

Remar Barquilla

05/14/2013 08:07 am

I think if websites' SEO strictly followed google's guideline they will not find it more frightening if this kind of update roll out by google. Why are you going to be afraid if you're following the guidelines.

Sourabh Rana

05/14/2013 08:18 am

only method that google can understand the PAIN OF BIG LOSS In TRAFFIC :) :)

Himanshu Jain

05/14/2013 08:50 am

Waiting for the update.. Come fast and kick out all spammy websites. :)

Soni Sharma

05/14/2013 09:12 am

Haaahahha.... Amazing sense of humor

Chetan Tawale

05/14/2013 11:30 am

Me too

Hannah Miller

05/14/2013 11:41 am

I fear for the websites that have been conned into purchasing packages that promise them "number one positions" in search engines with spammy link exchanges and poor quality content distribution. These are the people that are going to continue to suffer. I wish it was easier for web owners to understand what these strategies are actually doing to them. Its not sustainable although I think Google is right to try and crack down on "tricks" to try and cheat the alogrithms. A good quality & solid digital strategy is all it needs and these updates will only require minor tweaks.

Het Shah

05/14/2013 11:42 am

Google (Mat Cutts) has confirm that next Google's Penguin update will be very soon, and that's obvious, nothing new.. because Google's Penguin's last Update was back in October it's long nothing to worried if you follow google webmasters algo. and instructions. you will survive and grow from this....

Naresh Chauhan

05/14/2013 12:36 pm

I am also agree with you.

Naresh Chauhan

05/14/2013 12:37 pm

I agree with you.


05/14/2013 12:56 pm

I also scared from this.. Although I am not making spammy links or something manipulating, but still I don't know what other thing can effect my website. I am just looking forward for a positive side because I am finding ranking and traffic down these days so this also made so scared.


05/14/2013 12:57 pm

I want the same :P

Katerina Gasset

05/14/2013 03:04 pm

This depends on the industry you are in. We are in the real estate industry where google favors zillow and trulia. Our end users don't like those sites. They don't offer good content. We do and so do many other real estate agents who can no longer compete against the big brands since the last penguin update. Our sites have great content. But we will never have as many visitors or PR as zillow does. Does that mean we are not worthy of being ranked? This is the part that is not right. It is the big brands who are burying the small business owners on google. Yet, google wants the big brands to show up on the serps based on what Matt just said, those are all factors that the big brands have and we in small markets can not compete against. We don't have the money, time or resources to buy enough ppc to make a difference. We don't use any frowned upon tactics. But we certainly don't have the same authority as zillow does yet they don't offer our local buyers and sellers any value because their Florida data is so incorrect.

Jimmy Maddox

05/14/2013 03:45 pm

you dont have to have spammy links to get a penalty.... you can be clean as a whistle (to your knowledge) and suddenly you are in another galaxy over night. And you have no idea what hit you.... so yeah, I'm a little frazzled...

Jimmy Maddox

05/14/2013 03:50 pm

Google (Matt CUtts) say they are 'excited' about the new major updates.... while they know many webmasters are very worried based on previous shake ups. Google is in it for themselves and no one else. Well, except the Ad word customers. Maybe if I put $50 on an adword budget, it might be just enough to register my site in the (Preferred) category and might see a difference in ranking as opposed to nothing at all. Good case study.

Martin Pierags

05/14/2013 05:13 pm

Do you really believe in that? Imo Google would have never been so successful if searchers would not be satisfied with the the SERP on the first page. Sure that matt doesn't want to satisfy Webmasters all over the world.

Pierre M Fiorini

05/15/2013 02:40 am

You won't be able to compete organically. How can you realistically build all the links that Zillow has? You won't. So, what this means is that you have to pay for AdWords - if you can afford it. The big brands win with Penguin. The little guy is out of luck. Sorry.

Pierre M Fiorini

05/15/2013 02:53 am

The problem I see with this "update" is that it's may be overkill. Yes, there is SPAM, but for the most part, search results are for the most part "pretty good". I rarely see SPAM on Google. The end result, like you say, may be big brands will be pushed up in the SERPS eliminating "the little guy" for the most part. If this is the case, then what then will be the point of going to Google? I don't really know. The "SPAM" sites actually play an important role in the search eco-system by instantiating many, but smaller paid search campaigns (i.e., the "long tail" of paid search campaigns), which I'm sure generates huge amounts of revenues for Google. I'm not sure what will happen to Google when many of these smaller businesses don't exist any more.

Pierre M Fiorini

05/15/2013 03:12 am

After these big updates, he always does say: "There are winners and losers in every update", which is a tautology. Amazing intuition and insight!

Ahmed Khan

05/15/2013 05:16 am

Most of us(SEO's) including me are lazy. We Just Want to Rank! and don’t care About Google guidelines. And when Update happens or going to happen. We start crying. And say this is injustice

Justin Clark

05/15/2013 05:24 am

@ Ahmed .. how can you say that all webmaster are lezy and they cry on google updates. I can show you thousand of examples in Uk who following all Google guidelines and Google destroyed all of them because they re not running Google paid campaign.

Ahmed Khan

05/15/2013 05:35 am

I am not talking about all i am talking about majority.


05/15/2013 05:43 am

I agree, this is not the quality that wins but the money.


05/15/2013 05:45 am

I agree Justin it's not the quality but the money that wins.

Ahmed Khan

05/15/2013 05:47 am

hahahahaha this is against the animal rights. "Animal Welfare Society" should take notice.

Babul Oza

05/15/2013 06:44 am

All are excited and expected this time that this new version will be updated best results.


05/15/2013 01:20 pm

There are definitely still some sites that have gotten under Google's radar the way the algorithms are now. Good looking meta tags and page headers on thousands of pages but essentially no content for the end user except for lots and lots of ads. Take a look at an article on Google's Webmaster Central that describes a group of 1600 websites like that! The title is "10 Steps to Fool Google Page Rank (and your advertisers)."

truth hurts

05/15/2013 05:39 pm

"Trust me, I will be all over this when I see signs in the forums about this update." You and Danny Sullivans are Google shills and hucksters just trying to sell tickets to SMX by being "on our side." Phony asswipes.


05/15/2013 05:58 pm

If the smaller businesses are paying for Adwords long tail placement, their traffic really only changes if the organic results are better in the eyes of the customer. This creates a problem as you say for Google, since people will stop clicking the sidebar and go to organic results for long tail phrases. Google can mitigate this temporary loss of revenue if it the newly placed "better" organic listings can benefit Google, ie. with Adsense, Youtube videos, or some other monetizing technique. Google has their hands in many pies, so they can take a hit in one area if it will pay off in another. They are looking at providing quality search results, a long run game. Keeping people at Google means they will continue to make money in one way or another, as long as the customer is happy.


05/15/2013 06:04 pm

Low quality is relative to the vertical. A website advertising cold medicines should ideally have links from authority medical sites and/or guest posts from doctors or university professors. Otherwise, random forum links and paid links on a few blogs are obvious signals of manipulation. Gambling, Porn, or other vice activities can not be expected to get legitimate links at or even a respectable forum. A good quality porn or gambling link will be different than a good quality academic or scientific link. Obvious discrepancies will send up red flags. Get links from the best representatives of your community, not the best representatives of the entire web.


05/15/2013 06:11 pm

1. Social signals are indeed unreliable. What's popular isn't necessarily high quality. 2. They can devalue suspicious links, whether or not they are fake. There will be both "innocent" and "guilty" links that get punished. They will devalue links they determine suspicious incrementally until search result quality suffers or enough people complain. 3. Hide better or stop link building, period. I agree link building is still a necessary component of SEO, but it must be extremely discreet and legitimate in appearance. False positives are part of G's experimentation process and people will loose sites as a result. There's no fair way of rolling out a signal change for billions of web pages without ruining a few good businesses in the process. They react to feedback and adjust. Unfortunately some of us lose and that's part of the game.


05/15/2013 06:14 pm

That's the epic question for anyone starting an internet business. Google judges the most profitable niches (gambling, porn, pills, etc.) with excessive scrutiny and delays websites for months (or years) before they reach top positions in the SERPs. G wants us to build sites and spend 2 years waiting to make money, but most people can't wait 2 years to make money. Maybe one "organic" site and a couple "inorganic" sites launched together will strike a balance.


05/17/2013 09:58 am

I have seen good sites with only slightly spammy backlinks (what site doesn't have them???) get obliterated while spammy sites with thousands of spam backlinks are sitting right at the top of Google. Seriously guys....the approximate 47% increase in adsense revenue and crappy SERP results after Penguin 1.0 should tell you everything you need to know about Google "quality" updates!


05/17/2013 10:05 am

Any type of backlink building is viewed as black hat by Google. There is no such thing as reputable link building in the eyes of Google. If you build links of any kind you use them your site could be one update away from no-man's land. The truth is if you have been building your sites according to Google's guidelines then you really don't need to worry about this update or any future one because your site has never had any traffic to begin with. I would love to see Google build their own business on their ridiculous model "build it and they will come" attitude. If that worked they wouldn't have spent millions of dollars trying to promote G+ and their other failed enterprises and stuck links to those services on their browser and homepage!

6 Packers Movers

05/22/2013 06:19 am

Webmasters resorting to high quality work need not panic as Google will never touch their ranking. Ones they are able to run an efficient Branding Campaign you will be able to get more recognition for your website.


05/22/2013 06:22 am

You might be lazy But there are people who work day night and invests huge amount of money to get ranked higher. I have seen even the real companies who are NO. 1 ON THE GROUND "IN REAL" and not on WEB are getting placed on second or even worse on Third Page of Google.

6 Packers Movers

05/22/2013 06:25 am

Brian this is the best solution. However, this is not possible. If government of one country bans the government of another country might not think the same. So, this will not work.

6 Packers Movers

05/22/2013 06:27 am

Yes the wonderful thought. But the only thing is content doesn't come cheap. It costs too high quite often. Consider Press Release or EzineArticles Submission.. Its not cheap and entails you good investment.

Brian Mease

05/22/2013 07:21 am

How about a union of top 500 ISPs around the globe blocking Google's ad network like the French ISP did in January. Google must stop playing Gods of the arena, they need to stop penalizing like recent Sprint, this is brutal! This penalizing agenda will just push competitors to harm honest businesses and will make them spam those businesses with tons of links from spammy link farms in order to trigger Google to slap the business website. Instead of this brutal behavior they can just ignore the spammed links and remove them from their index but they don't! I also hear many speculations that they want these high ranked websites to invest more in Adwords, if that's the only choice for them they will so how is this a fair play? I don't think so, also the amount of money we need to spend for a click for many keywords in Adwords is just a ripoff, $5 a click is insane and some reach $20+/click, how about chaning Adwords to loop ads so small businesses can take a shot on competitive keywords or creating a max cpc, Google will say "hell no, we want to squeeze you guys" BAN THE ADS and see the magic :)


05/22/2013 08:57 am

Support Bing!

Ina Stanley

05/25/2013 12:23 am

Actually, I have to disagree with that statement. I don't think that Google counts every method of link building as black hat. Actions such as thoughtful commenting on relevant blogs or in related forum discussions can generate backlinks. However, these actions alone aren't considered black hat. What is considered black hat is when webmasters decide to use more automated means of generating backlinks. They then become meaningless and little more than spam. The link building becomes more about manipulating search engine rankings and not as much about building relationships with other webmasters and proving oneself as an expert in one's chosen field. There are many legitimate ways to build backlinks. The thing is that those methods often take a lot of time, effort and consistency. Most webmasters these days want instant gratification. They don't want to put in the time or effort it takes to build relationships, create high-quality content or prove themselves as experts in their fields. It's that impatience that has caused the problem, and that's what the search engines look to nip in the bud with all of their algorithm updates.

Harald Tschuggnall

05/29/2013 09:10 am

Hi Barry - thx Check out this new Case Study I just finished about hit hard by Penguin 2.0. What u think about the Case Study: And thx for asking John Mueller about the Berry Penalty! :-) harry

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