On October 5th, everyone’s favorite Googler, Matt Cutts confirmed via Twitter that Penguin 2.1 launched.
If you follow Danny Sullivan, this latest update is being called Penguin 5. Let me explain why we’re dealing with two different names for one update. The update prior to this one, which was the 4th update, was more than just an update of the same filter; it was a new and improved version. Google called it Penguin 2.0 because it was a second generation of Penguin, but Danny referred to it as Penguin 4 since he felt it was less confusing for site owners to number them in the order they happen. As if the changes themselves aren’t confusing enough, now there is confusion over what to call it.
Google has stated that when updates are small, they will use a .1 instead of jumping up to the next number. So since this was a small update with no major changes, it’s Penguin 2.1. So don’t be confused if you hear someone talking about Penguin 2.1 and Penguin 5, they are one and the same.
To further clarify things, here is a list of all confirmed Penguin updates and both of their names.
- Penguin 1 on April 24, 2012 (impacting around 3.1% of queries)
- Penguin 2 on May 26, 2012 (impacting less than 0.1%)
- Penguin 3 on October 5, 2012 (impacting around 0.3% of queries)
- Penguin 4 (AKA Penguin 2.0) on May 22, 2013 (impacting 2.3% of
- Penguin 5 (AKA Penguin 2.1) on Oct. 4, 2013 (impacting around
- 1% of queries)
The goal of Penguin is to remove low quality, spammy sites from the results pages. Penguin specifically targets low quality and paid links.
If you were hit by any of the Penguins, you will see a noticeable decrease in traffic either the day the update happened or the next day. It is incredibly unlikely that you will recover from Penguin without rectifying your link situation.
On the other hand, if you had taken a hit before and have fixed things, you likely saw an increase in traffic after 2.1 ran.
It’s important to note that Penguin is an automated filter with no human intervention, there is no manual penalty assignment, so a reconsideration request will not help you.
So how do you recover from Penguin?
There is some debate about whether you should disavow links, and we’ve seen valid arguments on both sides.
The truth is, as with most things related to SEO, there is no one “right” way. It depends on your history and how you obtained the problematic links.
If you are guilty of buying links or participating in some other link scheme or if you hired a less than reputable firm that did any of that on your behalf, then you are going to have your work cut out for you and I don’t suggest you go right to the disavow.
But let me back up for a minute, the first step is truly understanding your link profile. You shouldn’t take any action at all if you don’t know what your profile looks like.
If you aren’t sure how your link profile looks or you don’t even know what a link profile is, the smartest thing you can do for your business is get a Link Audit. Once the Audit is done, you will know what you are dealing with and can create your action plan.