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Matt Cutts confirms Penguin Data Refresh - Oct 5, 2012



12:42 am on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

Looks like it finally happened!

Weather report: Penguin data refresh coming today. 0.3% of English queries noticeably affected.


[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 1:56 am (utc) on Oct 6, 2012]
[edit reason] fixed link [/edit]


2:51 am on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)


@chuckgregorich the Penguin data refresh will complete today.

I'm not seeing any movement at all ...is he sure it's refreshing :D


3:12 am on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Excited! My site was never hit with Penguin (although it was hit by Panda and we lost nearly 70% traffic till date). I am seeing a slight increase in traffic, although not sure if this is related to Penguin update. Instead of working, all I do is hope and pray for sites to jump back in the SERPs.


3:27 am on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

That's a lot of updates in a short period to know what's in play for any given site.


4:10 am on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I was expecting more than 0.3% to be hit. Remember his last comment about Penguin?

And why would they wait so long working on upgrading Penguin if only to improve 0.3%?


4:36 am on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

It's just a data refresh. Sounds like they did not touch the algorithm.


6:22 am on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Jarring & Jolting? :-/

Or would that be the update?


6:50 am on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

They are getting all the updates done and out of the way before the festive season comes


8:57 am on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

My site that was hit by the first penguin hasn't moved at all, could it be a few days until the new SERPS show? Have any of you in the uk seen changes yet?

I dont know what to do now. I waited for another penguin update to see if my site improves but there are no changes yet. I wonder when the 'jarring and jolting' update will come.


8:57 am on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

No movement, but let's wait 24 hours.


9:38 am on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I'm in the UK, not seeing any movement in my penguinised sites as yet.
Despite making an effort to un-optimise the backlink anchor profile over the last few months.


9:38 am on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Nothing yet for main key terms in my sector (UK).


9:39 am on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

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What a joke, i don't see a tid bit of movement in the serps, months of cleaning backlinks and obtaining new links has proven to be futile!

There is hardly 1 site which has exchanged spots from 3 to 4. Where is the jolting?


9:41 am on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

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So does it mean the penguinised sites will remain slapped or what? is there any one who has seen recovery?


9:58 am on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

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No change here as far as I can see (UK). Not exactly the fireworks I was expecting. Has anyone seen anything at all? Positive or negative?

I hope this is not it. If so I feel like I have wasted the last 6 months since I got hit.


11:05 am on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

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not seeing any real movement here. was hit in the original april release.


12:01 pm on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

Nothing at all. I did notice initial shuffling on a site I use to experiment a bit, but seems it just went back to its penalized state.

Of course that is a possibility since I am not cleaning its link profiles at all.


12:02 pm on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

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You'd think someone would be reporting something either way


12:39 pm on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

I definitely see some changes. Some low quality (bad content + bad links) hit -- nowhere to be found; ranked at the top before.

Some of my sites fell down a couple of places.


12:45 pm on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

@EmptyRoom - are those UK SERPS you've seen movement on?

I've noticed my site climb 2 pages in the last couple of hours, but that may not even have anything to do with the penguin update. I've went from page 23 to page 21 for my most competitive keyword, which I wouldn't even count as an improvement. That won't make any difference to my traffic at all.


1:16 pm on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

For our site, we got heavily penalized on April 24th and got a decent bump up (but still were penalized) on May 26th. We were hit for one keyword phrase on our home page (other phrases/pages ok). This to me is pretty cut and dry evidence we were hit by Penguin. We (or rather our foolish SEO company) did link build for this phrase/home page.

Over the summer, we remove 1000's of links and really IMO do as much as any webmaster twisting his SEO's company's arm can do to remove artificial backlinks. I don't think we could have done much better and was quite proud of the work we did.

Now we have the much anticipated data refresh for those of us that cleaned up links...and nothing. To me this is evidence that you CAN'T recover a penguin'ized site by removing bad links. If Cutts feels that a site that link builds deserves this type of death penalty, than he should clearly state this is the case. The ambiguity creates so much wasted time and effort for so many webmasters. A LOT of people felt you could recover a site by removing bad links...and many top SEO experts (like Matt's friend Danny Sullivan) pushed this idea...and Matt really did nothing to contradict them.

If the ultimate cure is to create a new website for sites penalized by Penguin...that Matt needs to be explicitly state that this is the only option. Granted this is not easy for so many of us. Our site was a solid one of over 15 years...and not a throw-away, emd, affiliate, basement run site by a some geek in India. Our decently sized company served the community and had/have strong offline promotion of our website. For us, creating a new website is very difficult.

We only link built when our competitor did (with two SEO companies) to pass us and google did not respond to our spam complaints with explicit evidence of their link building. To this day with the third iteration of Penguin, they have yet to be penalized and still hold onto the top spot (plus 'some' thanks to clustering) despite their cheating ways.

To link spammers, Cutts seems to be saying...don't take down your link networks! Because they are either penalized beyond repair and there is nothing you can do. Or it could be that you think they are a source for your penalty when they aren't. The logical conclusion for spammers is to now keep up their spammy link networks because now it has been shown that removing bad links can never help (unless you are WPMU and get enough media attention to warrant a special exception review/whitelistng).

So frustrating :( Rant over. If anybody did remove artificial links to your site and did recover, please share your story :)


1:31 pm on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

If anybody did remove artificial links to your site and did recover, please share your story

Yes, please share.

Like the other guy, I've resisted the urge to switch domains and have removed over 500 links. This one should have been bigger than the last refresh (0.1 vs 0.3 ? ) and yet there's no recoveries and hardly any reports of new victims.


1:42 pm on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Well the articles on my two penguized sites are still being outranked by scraped copies for searches on quoted snippets of text. To me, this indicates that the Penguin algorithm probably hasn't been changed. So this new update is most likely just a data refresh.

Since I haven't made any changes to my sites or removed any backlinks, I wouldn't expect a simple data refresh to affect them, and apparently it hasn't.

But I really don't see much point in doing any new data refreshes until the algorithm itself is fixed.


1:42 pm on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I have removed some bad links. Added some op quality ones, without anchor text. De optimised internal links. Watered down titles and text to the point that I now get next to nothing from Bing. All for nothing seemingly.

It's over for me if this is the case. Taxi driving here I come. Hopefully I can maybe keep the house if I can get some kind of job.


1:52 pm on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

The reason why most of sites with dirty badlinks are still floating there is probably because they are new and Google has not gathered enough data on them yet. In first penguin update, 90% of new sites started showing up on first page in my niche and all old sites went into oblivion.

I have a feelings Google is very slow at gathering this kind of data, e.g some of the link i removed about 6 months ago can still be seen in Google cache and probably are the reason that i did not recover from the loss.

Interestingly all the fresh sites which took the top spots are probably still too new for the algo and their spammy backlinks count have not yet crossed a certain threshold, where they become vulnerable to penguin.

In my defense, i had thoroughly analysed my site, removed any thing which could raise some sort of suspicion. And in order to build a better foundation, i had went through a great deal of acquiring hardest possible links, such as links from news sites, some other top sites but now it seems like i wasted my time. I could of started a new site and build the links for it instead of penguin site.


2:00 pm on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

Lady_K: I am seeing changes on the US (.com) version and German (.de) version of Google.


2:09 pm on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member crobb305 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

this "update" was ridiculous. The new/spammy domains with thousands and thousands of foreign backlinks continue to reign. Pathetic. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Google doesn't care about spam in the index, they reward it. Oh and the press-release/yellow-pages spam makes my head spin. It got worse since last night.

menntarra 34

2:28 pm on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm seeing more visitors today. I haven't been hit by penguin, only some pandas...


2:47 pm on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

To those talking about fixing link profiles, I'd like to throw another (but not necessarily new) idea into the mix also bearing in mind people affected by Penguin seem to be finding it harder to bounce back from than Panda.

How about if Google, once Panda recognizes a site has been link-building to increase rankings, simply sets a flag to ignore link value to that site for good (or a fixed period).

If true, then rather than being a bad thing, this means the webmaster can stop wasting time on something that can't be fixed and spend it instead on writing quality, authoratative content and end up with a better product that, in turn, could rank for being good rather than through artificial means. A side benefit being you are less likely to be stressed at future algo refreshes/updates ;)

[edited by: Simsi at 2:53 pm (utc) on Oct 6, 2012]


2:51 pm on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Some things I've noticed in my industry:

1. Quite a few heavily link spammed EMD sites have moved back in rankings to top 1-3 positions from bottom.

1a. These sites did not clean up link profile, sites were essentially left to sit. Minor link removal due to 'expiring' link purchases.

2. Sites that cleaned up link profile and in-content keyword over-optimization have not recovered.

3. Previous non-spammy sites that were somewhat newer 1-2years, did not recover

4. Minor link builded sites with Google reinclusions have no recovered: Now squeaky clean sites. They went down with first penguin 1.0.

5. Sites that saw dramatic increases in SERP position that were pure white hat have gone from #1 back down to #2 or #3. They had benefited from Penguin 1.0 up until now, they still rank "ok" just not great. Loss in a good chunk of long tail rankings.

6. Massive brands still killing it (as long as keyword anchor profile was proper).

7. Massive link spammers and keyword stuffers still killing it.

8. Sites "pymarid funneling" using automated link building are still ranking relatively well for highly profitable terms

- Summary, as it appears now the 'do nothing' approach seems to have benefited link spammers with semi-quality sites. The mass clean up approach did not work.

I believe a proper anchor profile balance, heavily weighted towards site.com, http://site.com, http://www.site.com etc anchors is what google still wants, quality site or not.

:Note: Still a lot of movement back and forth so hard to really tell what the final outcome is

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 6:39 am (utc) on Dec 17, 2012]
[edit reason] de-linked sample urls [/edit]

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