Google Penguin 2.1 is Now Live

Google ended the previous week with big news: Matt Cutts announced through Twitter the launching of Google Penguin 2.1. The algorithm update was released late Friday. See Matt’s tweet below, along with the link from Google’s blog last year explaining what the Penguin update is:


Penguin 2.1 launching today. Affects ~1% of searches to a noticeable degree. More info on Penguin:

— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) October 4, 2013

“Minor” Spam-Fighting Algorithm Update

Google’s numbering of the update as 2.1 indicates that this is supposed to be a minor update. According to Cutts, it will affect around 1% of all searches. Over the weekend, webmasters and online marketers have been reporting drastic drops to their rankings site wide and significant decrease in site traffic, with some webmasters reporting up to 70% drop in traffic volume. The latest updates on forums show that the drop was not permanent for some, reporting that their traffic is back as of early this morning.

You can see the spike in SERPs volatility on the day Penguin 2.1 was released in various SERPs trackers. Check out the activity tracked by showing SERPs volatility rising from 37.3 on Thursday to 45.2 on Friday.

The same increase is observable in the MozCast SERPs weather tracker. You can see that the changes we

MozCast showing SERPs weather increase from 66 degrees on Thursday to 72 degrees on Friday. This continued to rise Saturday at 73 degrees.

Increased Algorithm Sensitivity

The effect that we’re seeing now is similar to previous iterations of the Penguin update. What makes Penguin 2.1 different is its increased sensitivity towards low-quality and undiversified link building. The following are at highest risk of suffering drops from this increased sensitivity:

  • Websites with high anchor text density using the same anchor texts repeatedly
  • Older websites that dropped from the previous Penguin updates, and whose backlink profiles were never cleaned

As I’ve mentioned earlier, those who reported drastic changes in their traffic in webmasters’ forums have already updated that their site traffic was back to normal after a day or two, indicating that the change that took place was because the algorithm is still stabilizing. My observations so far reveal that Google may be right in calling this update minor after all, as the effects I saw were not as vast as earlier reported.

Improving Your Website for Penguin 2.1

Protecting your website from the negative effects of Penguin 2.1 or recovering from it if you were already hit requires the same thing: quality backlink profile. We’ve been cleaning up our clients’ old link portfolio for the past months through our search optimization solutions, and we’ve seen positive results. Here’s how we do it:

1. We do a comprehensive website audit to find old links that need to be removed, and have these links removed manually;
2. We run the Link Detox tool to identify problematic links, allowing us to take steps to remove them;
3. We run a program to contact webmasters and ask them to remove links that we consider low quality;
4. We include the remaining low quality links that were not removed manually in your disavow file, which we submit through Google Webmaster Tools. This will ask Google to ignore these links; and
5. We build high-quality links with diversified anchor texts to dilute the undiversified anchor text and backlink portfolio.

Call us today if you have been hit by Penguin 2.1, or if you want to strengthen your current position on the SERPs. We’d be glad to help you recover from this and other algorithm updates from Google.

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