Archive

Monthly Archives: November 2014

The Danger of Crossing Algorithms: Uncovering The Cloaked Panda Update During Penguin 3.0

Penguin 3.0 was one of the most anticipated algorithm updates in recent years when it rolled out on October 17, 2014. Penguin hadn’t run for over a year at that point, and there were many webmasters sitting in Penguin limbo waiting for recovery. They had cleaned up their link profiles, disavowed what they could, and were simply waiting for the next update or refresh. Unfortunately, Google was wrestling with the algo internally and over twelve months passed without an update.

So when Pierre Far finally announced Penguin 3.0 a few days later on October 21, a few things stood out. First, this was not a new algorithm like Gary Illyes had explained it would be at SMX East. It was a refresh and underscored the potential problems Google was battling with Penguin (cough, negative SEO).

Second, we were not seeing the impact that we expected. The rollout seemed to begin with a heavier international focus and the overall U.S impact has been underwhelming to say the least. There were definitely many fresh hits globally, but there were a number of websites that should have recovered but didn’t for some reason. And many are still waiting for recovery today.

Third, the rollout would be slow and steady and could take weeks to fully complete. That’s unusual, but makes sense given the microscope Penguin 3.0 was under. And this third point (the extended rollout) is even more important than most people think. Many webmasters are already confused when they get hit during an acute algorithm update (for example, when an algo update rolls out on one day). But the confusion gets exponentially worse when there is an extended rollout.

The more time that goes by between the initial launch and the impact a website experiences, the more questions pop up. Was it Penguin 3.0 or was it something else? Since I work heavily with algorithm updates, I’ve heard similar questions many times over the past several years. And the extended Penguin 3.0 rollout is a great example of why confusion can set in. That’s my focus today.