Google Releases Penguin 3.0–But Is There Still More To Come?

October 20, 2014

According to Google representative, John Mueller, the much-anticipated Penguin 3.0 algorithm update began rolling-out on Friday, October 17th.

This past weekend, some sites began noticing changes in their organic rankings and many were attributing the changes to the Penguin update Google’s been building anticipation for since earlier last month. Today, Google’s John Mueller has confirmed that Penguin is, in fact, responsible for any of these changes in the search results we’ve seen over the past few days.

As the first Penguin update in just over a year, Penguin 3.0 has been on the radar for everyone in the SEO industry for months. While the algorithm update hasn’t by any means come as a surprise, what has surprised a number webmasters, SEOs and industry folks around the US, is the unexpectedly small impact we’ve seen so far.

While it may still too early to accurately tell how exactly the search results have changed, according to reports sites have been impacted by Penguin 3.0 in different ways–some losing rankings, but the vast majority of those impacted experiencing small ranking boosts if anything. More notably, however, those who have seen their rankings rise since Friday night, have noticed they’re not experiencing these changes on a scale anywhere near what everyone had speculated.

Since then, those in the industry are questioning whether sites in the US have seen the full effect of Penguin just yet. And many have been left asking: “Wait…Is that it?”

Is the Penguin 3.0 Roll-Out Complete?

In a Google hangout this morning, John Mueller announced that the Penguin 3.0 roll-out, as far as he knew, was complete.

Later today, however, he seemed to retract that sentiment, stating on Google+  that he may have spoken too soon.

John Mueller Penguin 3.0

With the immense amount of anticipation that surrounded the latest Penguin update, many were expecting to see a more dramatic change in rankings, so the fact that we may still be in the midst of the roll-out seems very likely.

So far, the latest Penguin has shown relatively minimal impact on the rankings compared to the predictions that have been made over the last few months.

Past Penguin updates have rocked the world of SEO, most commonly causing sites with higher volumes of poor-quality links to lose rankings and traffic. This time, however, Penguin was much-anticipated for entirely different reasons. For many businesses, Penguin 3.0 was expected to be welcome news–pay-off for all of the work sites had been doing to clean up their link profiles and recover their rankings after getting dinged during the last Penguin update.

Usually with major roll-outs, especially Google’s past Penguin updates, there are statistics released detailing the number of search queries impacted and giving webmasters an idea of what to expect to see from the algorithm change. According to Google, Penguin 2.1 reportedly impacted 1% of queries back in October of last year. Penguin 2.0 impacted 2.3% of queries before that, and so on. And while Mueller confirmed the update over the weekend, there has still yet to be any official word from Google’s team regarding the results of the update or the scale of it’s impact–which should mean we haven’t quite seen the end of Penguin 3.0’s effect.

What to Expect from Google’s Penguin 3.0 Update

Based on the relatively light impact we’ve seen this past weekend, it’s incredibly likely that the update will continue to roll-out over the course of this coming week. For the most part, we’re just going to have to wait and see.

If there is more ahead, this should be welcome news, as many webmasters have not only been underwhelmed, but discouraged, by the lack of change seen by sites across the board.

After over a year for sites to really improve their organic footprint and remove any toxic links that they were penalized for in the past–it’s surprising to have seen so little change in the search results thus far. If this really is all sites can expect to see, many sites will be left greatly disappointed that their rank recovery efforts since the last Penguin have still yet to be rewarded by Google’s allegedly updated algorithm. So far, it seems Penguin 2.11 would have been a more appropriate name then Penguin 3.0.

There are a number of Google updates that have proven, however, just how much algorithm updates can evolve, change, advance or even roll-back over time. The effects of Google’s Pigeon Algorithm update–a change to their local search algorithm released back in July–are slowly being to return results resembling those before the release–leading many to question is being rolled-back. And that’s just one example.

Hopefully, in the days ahead, we’ll begin to see an increase in the number of sites recovering their rankings thanks to Penguin 3.0.

It’s natural to experience constant change in web search, and, as Mueller stated this morning, it would be wrong to “expect that any specific ranking will stay there forever.” Whether or not Google has completed the release of Penguin 3.0, we can’t know just yet. Google’s algorithm is fluid and we’re all too familiar with that reality, which is why no matter what’s ahead with Penguin 3.0, staying on your toes when it comes to SEO is more important than ever.

UPDATE: Google has officially announced as of October 21, that Penguin 3.0 so far is affecting fewer than 1% of US English queries and is, in fact, still in the process of being rolled-out. John Mueller has shared on Google+ that “This refresh helps sites that have already cleaned up the webspam signals discovered in the previous Penguin iteration, and demotes sites with newly-discovered spam. It’s a slow worldwide rollout, so you may notice it settling down over the next few weeks.”


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