Google might have made an unofficial promise to not Update its ranking algorithm during the holiday season, but it doesn’t seem to have stopped them this year.
Since Thanksgiving (November 27th), there have been a number of Penguin Updates – at least three, according to Search Engine Land.
Penguin is an algorithm used by Google to find sites that violate Google’s content quality guidelines and attempt to manipulate rankings unfairly in their favour. Thus, it is used primarily to assess whether a site’s backlinks are natural or not.
Google uses Penguin occasionally, and penalizes sites that it thinks violate the content quality guidelines. Once a site has been hit by Penguin, it must wait until the next Update in order to find out whether changes and corrections made have been good enough for Google to lift the penalties. Sometimes this is a lengthy wait – those hit by Penguin 2, for example, had to wait a year for Penguin 3. However, since Penguin 3 this year there has been at least 3 more Updates (according to Search Engine Land.)
What’s interesting is that these have happened during the holiday season – from Thanksgiving onward. Matt Cutts himself has previously Tweeted “we try to minimize major updates right before the holidays”.
So why so many this year?
According to some, these ‘Updates’ are actually part of the ongoing rollout of 3.0 from October, so not actually individual ‘Updates’ at all. Search Engine Land, however, argue that Updates rarely take this long (six weeks) to launch, and “rarely cause fluctuations toward the end of a rollout” – saying that those fluctuations are “usually the hallmark of a change to the filter, a new update happening”.
Regardless of whether these are individual Updates, or the effects of October’s Update, if you are affected then talk to someone at Search Marketing Group today for help and advice.