Big news for all our agency partners: Late last Friday, Google rolled out the latest Penguin algorithm update. Matt Cutts announced through Twitter that they were releasing Penguin 2.1. According to Cutts, this update will affect “~1% of searches to a noticeable degree.”

Increased Sensitivity to Spam and Low-Quality Links

What we’ve observed over the weekend is that despite the ~1% prediction Cutts gave in his tweet, which would normally indicate that this isn’t a “minor” update, not too many websites were affected permanently. Early reports from Friday night and Saturday morning reveal that websites lost as much as 70% of their traffic, and rankings dropped by as much as 20%. As of this morning, the same webmasters have updated the forums, saying their traffic has returned to normal, an indicator that the drop in rankings and traffic was due to the updated algorithm still stabilizing.

The effect of this Penguin update is almost the same as the effects of previous updates, with one main difference: Penguin 2.1 is more sensitive towards low quality and undiversified links. Two main groups were hit the hardest:

    • Older websites whose rankings dropped during the previous Penguin updates, and whose backlink profiles were never cleaned
    • Websites with links using the same anchor texts over and over again, therefore increasing anchor text density

In addition to that, we also noted the following observations:

    • Old websites with established link profiles were not affected by the update
    • Newer websites either shot up the SERPs (these are the websites with fresh, unique, and relevant content) or fell out of the SERPs completely (these are the websites that do not have established backlinks yet, or sites with little fresh content, or websites building on just a few anchor texts repeatedly)

In addition to these observations, SERPs volatility trackers also show that while there was a jump in SERPs activity this weekend, it wasn’t as significant as other days, such as when we talked about a possible phantom update which Google never confirmed. See the data below:

MozCast shows an increase 66 degrees on Thursday, Oct. 3, to 72 degrees on Friday, Oct. 4.MozCast shows an increase 66 degrees on Thursday, Oct. 3, to 72 degrees on Friday, Oct. 4. shows increased volatility from 37.3 on Thursday to 45.2 on the day Penguin 2.1 was released. shows increased volatility from 37.3 on Thursday to 45.2 on the day Penguin 2.1 was released.

Preparing for Penguin 2.1 and Other Algorithm Updates

Recovering from penalties brought about by algorithms like Penguin 2.1 can be tough, which is why we’ve prepared our partners’ campaigns ahead. What we’ve been doing for the past months have paid off – we’ve observed little change in our partners’ campaigns because of our continued effort to improve the quality of your backlink portfolio through our SEO services.

Our months of preparation included the following tasks:

  1. We do a comprehensive website audit and review past work reports to spot and remove any old links deemed low quality.
  2. Next, we run the Link Detox tool to identify problematic links.
  3. We contact webmasters using a program and ask them to remove links we consider low quality manually.
  4. If a webmaster does not respond, we include that link in your disavow file. We upload the updated file to Google Webmaster Tools for consideration, asking Google to ignore these low quality links.
  5. Finally, we continue building links from high-authority sites using diversified anchor texts.

Talk to your account manager today to learn more about how we help maintain your rankings through these Google updates. Sign up today and become our partner to get your website audit and start preparing your campaigns for future algorithm updates. Keep checking back for more updates!

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