Penguin 2.0 Roundups, Studies, and Losers Analysis

Introduction

Google Penguin 2.0 update is officially released on May 22nd, 2013 (or 23rd, depends on your location). In less than three days, we are already getting thousands of articles and so-call guru tips on the Internet. Sadly, most of these articles are nothing but noises. I have searched and read online for the past two days and filtered out some of the best resources related on this topic. If you are like me, who eagerly wish to learn more about Google Penguin 2.0, here’s a roundup post that you’ll find useful.

Google Penguin 2.0 In Effect

The experts who are tracking the search data first hand seem to have different opinions on the impact of Google Penguin 2.0.

Algoroo: Massive Turbulence

Algoroo Signal - Dejan SEO

As you can see from the chart above, Algoroo is picking up massive turbulence on thousands of SERPs. In a recent blogpost, Dan Petrovic of Dejan SEO said

Matt Cutts wasn’t wrong, the latest algorithm change was major. Algoroo was off the scale yesterday, we don’t even have a gauge that goes that high in our roo metric widget.

Search Metrics: Not As Big As Expected

On the other hand, the data picked up at Search Metrics indicates otherwise. Search Metrics founder Marcus Tober said:

It’s not the update I was expecting. I thought that this Googles Penguin update would have had a bigger impact similar to Panda 1. But that didn’t happen. My first analysis shows that many thin sites, sites with thin links and especially untrusted links face the problem. In addition, some small business sites were hit because they haven’t taken SEO serious enough. Google itself confirmed that the impact wouldn’t be as high as many thought – maybe this is just the calm before the storm and the big update is really coming in the future. We will see. I will continue to keep you updated with our results.

MozCast Temperatures: On Par With Panda #20

Short-Term MozCast Data

And at SEO Moz, the signal picked up was somewhat moderate (see chart above, source). As you can see, the impact of Penguin 2.0 is less significant than the previous major updates (namely Panda and Penguin 1.0) in relative.

The Five Google Penguin 2.0 Articles You Should Be Reading Right Now

#1. Search Engine Land Roundups On May 23rd

As usual, I hit Search Engine Land first when I am looking industry news and updates. Matt McGee’s Penguin 2.0 article was the first that pops up. The article summarizes what’s happening around and quoted Search Metrics’ list of 25 top losers in this round of Google updates.

And this was on May 23rd, less than 24 hours Penguin 2.0 hit shore.

> Read this article here.

#2. Search Metrics Loser Analysis 

The next stop would be Search Metrics’ Loser Analysis where Marcus Tober dived in deep into the data and released the top 25 losers list.

There were eight porn sites and four game sites in the list. Among the others on the list (surprise) are big brands and popular social networks like Dish.com, the Salvation Army, Educational Testing Service (ETS), and Daily Dot.

Search Metrics Analysis

As mentioned earlier, Tober said that the update was smaller than he expected and the impact was much stronger in Germany than in the US (as stated by SEL). Here’s the blogpost in German language for further details.

> Read his article here.

#3. Google Phantom Update May 2013

Here is a must-read Penguin article before the Penguin update.  (What?)

In case you are unaware, some of us witness a sudden drop in search traffic early this May. It’s just like what we had in the first Penguin update last year, traffics started to drop early 2012 and Google sent out several round of link spam warning before Penguin finally hit in late April.

In this article, the author took a closer look into this ‘phantom’ update released on May 9th, which I think that’s very likely to be a beta-Penguin in the wild, and drew these observations:

  1. Sites with authority, but was violating Google’s linking guidelines, were hit.
  2. Cross linking sister sites and sites with risky link profiles were hit badly.
  3. The author raised a question: How does Panda update factor into Penguin 2.0? Does Google hit you extra hard with Penguin if you were hit by Panda before this?

What interests me the most is author’s #1 observation – as I mentioned in my previous case study, high authority sites were not affected much by Penguin 1.0. But now we are seeing bunch of big brands getting hammered and listed as top losers in Penguin 2.0. Is there no escape to the power of Penguin?

> Read this article here.

#4. Study on Home24.de

Link Search Tools study on Home24.de is one of the few Penguin 2.0 analyses worth reading. Home24.de, a branded German-based furniture website that was hurt badly in Penguin 2.0 Update and lost almost 60% of its search visibility. The company is a major brand in Germany and it is engaged in various form of advertising both online and offline (TV ads).

According to the study, the usual suspects (such as sitewide links, paid blog posts, overused money keywords, etc) were the primary causes of the penalty. The author also pointed out one interesting observation from this example: It seems Google treat 301 redirect with a different manner in Penguin 2.0. Back in old days, 301 used to pass only link juice but not the penalty; the theory doesn’t seem apply to the observed site. If we assume that 301 redirects work differently now on Google, then a big part of the SEO game is changed.

In a nutshell, this is a very detail analysis but you’ll have to bear with the excessive demonstration of the company’s search tool.

> Read this article here.

#5. Discussion At Webmaster World

Last but not least, go check out the discussion thread on Webmaster World. And, as usual, there are gold buried in the messages. Specifically, I found discussion between Fathom and Whitey interesting (buried deep somewhere in page 4 and 5, go figure).

> Follow this discussion thread here.

What Should You Do Next

Google Google Google

So, the long waited Penguin 2.0 update is finally out, what now? What should you do besides reading online?

Personally, I am going to take the weekend off before I start my own analysis. For sure there will be plenty to study and digest in, but there’s no hurry in this (at least at this moment).  From what I see, the results are still changing and there are still quite a bit of fluxes in the SERP now. So why not let the dust to settle down before we pour in some real sweat?

If you were hurt by Penguin and wish to start your analysis immediately, my first suggestion for you is to look at the big players. Any of the major brands in your industry were filtered or penalized in this update? Go check their link profile and see what’s happening. Particularly, look into 301s, link velocity, money keyword ratio, and the ratio of trusted-vs-non-trusted links. Those are the negative signals we can use as reference in future. We knew Google is tightening the knob and giving less tolerance towards link spam; what we want to know now is how tight the knob is and how much space is left.

Next, I would look into sites that gained a lot on the first page. Specifically, I would like to look closer on spammy sites that popup out of nowhere. What are the links those sites are getting; and what are the link-ratio and anchor text ratio they are having.

Avoid over-reading online – yes, you heard me, while this post is all about giving pointers for you to read more online, I do not suggest you to read too much online (contradict, eh?).

If you find any news or articles worth reading, that you think I should include it here in this article, please leave a comment here.

I hope my article is useful to you. Thanks for reading and have a great weekend ahead!

Cheers, Jerry Low

Image source: Lego artwork by Sean Kenney