Take this as your official warning: the next Google ranking update is going to be big!
The warning comes straight from the horse’s mouth, Google’s Matt Cutts to be exact, who said at the recent SES San Francisco conference that the next few updates will be “jarring and jolting” for webmasters and SEOs. He warned that the Google “engineers have been working hard,” on this update and “you don’t want the next Penguin update”. Are you quaking in your boots yet?
This the first time Google have actively come out with a warning on an impending ranking update, so that goes to show just how severe it potentially might be. Matt also mentioned that updates to the Panda algorithm aimed at low-quality pages are now so minor as not to be noticed, when they roll out monthly. On the other hand, Penguin targets websites that spam Google. Matt says that Penguin isn’t a penalty but rather an “adjustment” that simply doesn’t let sites get rewarded for spam as much as in the past.
Before you all get yourselves worked into a frenzy about the impending update, Matt has clarified his comments from SES San Francisco in a statement at Search Engine Roundtable:
I was giving context on the fact that lots of people were asking me when the next Penguin update would happen, as if they expected Penguin updates to happen on a monthly basis and as if Penguin would only involve data refreshes.
If you remember, in the early days of Panda, it took several months for us to iterate on the algorithm, and the Panda impact tended to be somewhat larger (e.g. the April 2011 update incorporated new signals like sites that users block). Later on, the Panda updates had less impact over time as we stabilized the signals/algorithm and Panda moved closer to near-monthly updates. Likewise, we’re still in the early stages of Penguin where the engineers are incorporating new signals and iterating to improve the algorithm. Because of that, expect that the next few Penguin updates will take longer, incorporate additional signals, and as a result will have more noticeable impact. It’s not the case that people should just expect data refreshes for Penguin quite yet.
While these words from Matt are reassuring, it might pay to still brace yourself for the next Penguin update!