Penguin 2.1: The SEO Nightmare Has Resumed?

Penguin 2.1 Announced by Matt Cutts

The above screenshot of the tweet from Matt Cutts on October 5, 2013, officially declaring the roll out of Penguin 2.1, is one of the most common sights on leading SEO forums. According to head of the Google’s web spam team, launch of the latest Penguin algorithm update has affected less than 1% of search queries to a noticeable extent. Furthermore, a great deal of discussion is on among webmasters whether to name the update as Penguin 2.1 or Penguin 5. Following the chronology of Penguin rollouts since April 24, 2012 onward, this is the 5th one. However, Google has referred it as 2.1 as the newest update is an advanced version of Penguin 2.

Apparently, extent of the impact from 2.1 is not so widespread, as less than 1% of all search queries are affected. However, the interesting thing is that magnitude of the impact is immense over the affected websites. Additionally, several niche websites have reported of experiencing serious drop in ranks. Such websites have not only lost their first page hierarchy but also their new ranks have fallen below 200 or more. Another aspect has drawn the attention of webmasters that mostly older and authoritative domains have occupied the first page. Quite in contrast, domains in operation for less than 2 years have rarely secured a place amidst the ‘first page’ hierarchy.

Other sides of the Impact:

  • Despite the assurance from SEO forums and webmasters that websites that have received messages about unnatural inbound links from Google are under no threat, with the latest update, it has been found that those sites have suffered massive hit.
  • The older rule that despite the main domain bears spammy links, a webmaster can take the inner page keywords to higher positions with the help of clean backlinks isn’t applicable anymore in the post-Penguin 2.1 phase.
  • Exact match domains (EMDs) are under great trouble. Even a few days before, the trends of manipulating search engine ranks were quite popular. Penguin 2.1 is extremely harsh on such efforts. The earlier updates also penalized such exact match domains but with the latest ones, it seems, Google has successfully elbowed out the former drawbacks, consequently removing every website with this problem.
  • Websites containing links of article syndication have experienced fall in ranking after Penguin 2.1.
  • The aggressive link exchange technique is not effective anymore to increase the rank of a website.
  • Google has taken harsh measures against websites receiving several links from one source only.

It would be quite early to conclude whether Penguin 2.1 has caused the recurrence of SEO nightmare. According to earlier trends, the flux with ranking continues for a week or a bit more since initiation of an update. If your website shows a sudden drop in traffic after the latest rollout of search engine algorithm, then you need to take the necessary actions, such as:

  • Manually removing the bad links
  • Disavow the spammy links
  • Changing name of the domain, in case of exact domain name match

It is important that you allow helping Google to find out that you have correctly dealt with all reasons, responsible for getting your website flagged as per the Google webmaster policies, your portal starts getting back to ranking slowly. However, if you see that there is no such change in the traffic rate to the website or despite the update, traffic continues improving, then there are reasons to cheer as your website clearly has escaped the ills of Penguin attack.

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Darpan Ghosh

Sr. Web Content Developer at Maketick Inc.
Darpan Ghosh is the Senior Web Content Developer at Maketick Inc., a supreme IT, eCommerce service and consultation provider, based in Silicon Valley, California. He is a web-marketing enthusiast, with particular attention to the dynamic search engine trends and Social Media Marketing.

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