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Google Launches Another Penguin Update

Google’s Matt Cutts announced late on Friday that Penguin 2.1 was launching, affecting roughly 1% of searches “to a noticeable degree.” This is the first official Penguin announcement we’ve seen since Google revealed its initial Penguin revamp, with 2.0 in May.

Penguin 2.0 was the biggest tweak to Penguin since the update initially launched in April of last year, which was why it was called 2.0 despite the update getting several refreshes in between.

Cutts said this about Penguin 2.0 back when it rolled out: “So this one is a little more comprehensive than Penguin 1.0, and we expect it to go a little bit deeper, and have a little bit more of an impact than the original version of Penguin.”

Penguin 2.0 was said to affect 2.3% of queries with previous data refreshes only impacting 0.1% and 0.3%. The initial Penguin update affected 3.1%. While this latest version (2.1) may not be as big as 2.0 or the original, the 1% of queries affected still represents a significantly larger query set than the other past minor refreshes.

Hat tip to Danny Sullivan for the numbers. The folks over at Search Engine Land, by the way, have been keeping a list of version numbers for these updates, which differs from Google’s actual numbers, so if you’ve been going by those, Danny sorts out the confusion for you.

Penguin, of course, is designed to attack webspam. Here’s what Google said about it in the initial launch:

The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines. We’ve always targeted webspam in our rankings, and this algorithm represents another improvement in our efforts to reduce webspam and promote high quality content. While we can’t divulge specific signals because we don’t want to give people a way to game our search results and worsen the experience for users, our advice for webmasters is to focus on creating high quality sites that create a good user experience and employ white hat SEO methods instead of engaging in aggressive webspam tactics.

As you can see, Penguin is still part of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm.

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