Over the weekend webmasters and SEOs noticed a lot of movement in the SERPs. Although Google hadn’t confirmed anything yet, the general consensus was that Penguin was most likely to blame. Since Panda 4.1 had just rolled out a few weeks prior, it seemed too soon to be anything Panda-related. There were already several rumors floating around that Penguin was coming. In September, Google’s John Mueller revealed that Penguin 3.0 would probably roll out before the end of the year, then a few weeks later, Google Webmaster Trends analyst Gary Illyes confirmed Mueller’s statement and added that it was probably too late to clean up or disavow links.
On Sunday, October 19th, Google officially confirmed that the changes we saw were in fact due to Penguin. On Monday morning, John Mueller indicated that Penguin 3.0 had rolled out completely. Then on Tuesday, October 21st, Google’s Pierre Far corrected Mueller, saying that the rollout is nowhere near complete and that it would probably take several weeks for the update to fully roll out.
Here is a screenshot of Far’s Google+ announcement:
Since Google hasn’t updated its Penguin algorithm in over a year, most SEOs assumed that Penguin 3.0 would be a major update and expected significant fluctuation in the SERPs. However, according to Pierre Far, this update isn’t a update at all – it’s a refresh. Far also added that this refresh will only impact less than 1 percent of English search queries. When you compare the data from past Penguin updates to the data we have so far for 3.0, it looks like a whole different animal. Many sites that were hit by Penguin in the past were hoping to see some recovery, but so far there hasn’t been that collective sigh of relief that most of us were expecting.
Despite the sluggish roll out, everything seemed to have settled down by Monday. But on Wednesday, webmaster forums lit up once again with reports of heavy rankings fluctuations that carried over into Thursday morning. Could it be that the initial rollout and the activity we’ve seen since then are simply tremors and the “real” update hasn’t hit yet? Are certain industries seeing more impact than others?
If you take a look at Dr. Peter Myers’ Mozcast data below, you’ll see that for the most part, there isn’t a clear outlier, nor does the overall fluctuation seem to be anything out of the ordinary.
Although there are some really interesting theories out there, there’s still a lot that we don’t know:
- Which sites were hit?
- Which sites recovered?
- Where are they located?
- What specific industry?
Unfortunately we probably won’t have conclusive answers to these questions until Panda 3.0 finishes rolling out, which based on Google’s trajectory, could still be weeks away. Until then, I would recommend keeping a close eye on your site traffic and rankings. It’s also might help to take screenshots of your current rankings for all of the keywords and queries you’re tracking, so that you have something to refer back to.
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