Matt Cutts, head of search spam at Google, announced this morning that the search giant’s algorithm Penguin will receive a major upgrade this month to Penguin 2.0. Now in it’s 25th iteration, the Penguin was born January 2011 when Google aggressively went after websites with thin content, content farms and content scrapers in general. Ahead of the rollout, Google penalized JC Penny and Overstock.com for using maligned practices to cheat rankings. Cutts promised that this update will be harder, faster and stronger than the first which has some SEO companies nervous.
In today’s video, Cutts’ announcement which largely focuses on black-hat link building efforts comes just a month after Google pummeled link network SAPE and an announcement last week to go after another network. In the meantime, SEO forums had been abuzz. Over the Cinco de Mayo weekend SEOs saw change in rankings for their long-tail keywords and Google Places has all but merged with Google+. This was reflected in the MOZCAST forecast, which has shown major fluctuations since the beginning of the month.
Cutts mentioned that his team is still improving the sophistication of link analysis and the ability to recognize black-hat tactics, though his explanation provided few specifics, saying, they were “munging data” to see “whether or not it bears fruit.”
Other than going after black-hat link building tactics, Cutts has again promised more transparency with web developers by way of added webmaster notifications through Webmasters Tools. Cutts also mentioned doing more to stop transfer of page rank through advertising; more aggressive tactics against “contested” spammy search queries; warning labels on hacked sites in SERP results; a sort of “rounding up” for sites that are on the border of falling into the Panda pit by being more sensitive to quality metrics, and throwing a rope to those on the border; and finally limiting clusters of the same site so that duplicate appearances of a domain will only appear deeper in SERP results.
As Panda 2.0 rolls out over the next several months, we can be sure that rankings will change, but as Matt assured us today, those that dabble in black hat practices will be negatively affected, while others with good, quality content will experience growth. Speaking from personal experience,despite changes in Google Local, CW Taylor has seen huge increases in rankings, up to 300% with a few branded keywords in the last few weeks. This gives us the confidence that our current strategy is effective and that we can only succeed by improving it this summer.