Recent webmaster hangout video had a bunch of questions on Google’s recent penguin update.


Here are few penguin update related questions answered

Q: Sorry but can you let us know if Penguin is rolling out? If yes, this can be monthly now? How recognize penguin penalty for sites with low number backlinks and visibility?

A: Yes we confirmed to you that penguin update is rolling out but we don’t have much information on that.

Q: Dear John, has the penguin 3.0 update been completely rooled out or is the update still rolling out over the next few days / weeks?

A: As far as I know it updated completely.

Q: Are you gonna run it on a monthly basis?

A: Well see how far we hit, well the holiday season is coming soon and I don’t think we want to cause too much problems but yes we are definitely working on speeding up the updates.

Q: So is this a refresh or single algorithmic update?

A: I don’t have anything more on this.

Q: I have recovered some what from the new algorithm penguin update, I went from nowhere to page two and three now, can I expect to stay in these positions or will they get better as this update rools out more over time?

A: Well you can expect to see constant change in websearch and you shouldn’t assume that any rankings will stay there forever so i can’t really promise your site will rank on Page 2 or it will jump upto page 1 and you have to assume that these things will continue to change over time.

Q: Can I send you some samples on valid negative SEO affected by penguin update?

A: Yes please send it over i will be waiting on my inbox.

Q: Somone has been building bad backlinks against my website, sometimes over 2k a day, I’ve been doing a monthly detox and builidng a disavow file that I uploaded to webmaster tools. Today it seems like penguin hit the site as all my rankings are gone. help!

A: Like what Josh said if you feel that something like this is happening to your website and feel that Google is not picking on that properly you can send it to me, you can send it to me directly through my Google plus profile and I will surely check with the team here.


It has been only couple of days since we had the Penguin update 3.0 algorithm released but many will be already wondering what made your site to disappear. Here is a quick list of stuff for your reference. If your site is affected by current penguin 3.0 update then you should be seeing one of these problems.


  1. Penguin update is mostly around back links pointing to your site. Do a full audit of your back links.
  2. Check webmaster tools manual action page for any spam complaint from Google.
  3. If you used a SEO company ask them for all the links they built for your website from the time your started working with them. Question them about their strategy on link building. 90% of SEO companies build links unnaturally so there is no question they would have build questionable links for you.
  4. Check for unnatural links in your back link profile. If you used a SEO company then most probably they did link building for you and some of them might be deemed unnatural links by Google.
  5. Check your back link profile for potential Spam links that might be built by your SEO company or someone whom you don’t have control over.
  6. Compare your links with already ranking competitor sites to see if your site has qualified links.
  7. Stop doing link exchanges if you already doing so.
  8. Don’t ignore even one bad link. If Google feels a particular link is influencing your rankings and it was built unnaturally they will take action. So never ignore any links when reviewing your back links.
  9. Stop all link buying if you are doing so, buying links include guest post, counter links, word-press theme links, non profit sponsor, featured links on high PR sites etc.
  10. Ask for expert advice on what links are causing problems. As a site owner it is easy to neglect some toxic links that could be hurting you. Yes you spent 100s of dollars getting those links but Google has changed and Penguin algorithm will always catch you.
  11. Negative SEO is pretty well taken care by Google in latest update. There is hardly any evidence your site might be sabotaged by third party link attack but it is always better to see if you have links from unknown spammy sources. If you have them it is better to request those sites to remove them.
  12. Social bookmarking links, article links are bad for your site if they are not coming from valuable resources. Check and remove them.
  13. Social media links can hurt too. If you do excessive social media promotion without proper social signals your site will be affected. Check your social media link sources for potential unnatural links.
  14. Check for links from scraper sites or sites using your blog feeds. They might actually harm you.
  15. Other problems like bad redirects from back link sources, site errors etc can also cause problems with penguin 3.0.

Above checklist is a ballpoint tip to see if your site is really affected. If you are affected time to clean up your back links. Google will do periodic refreshes from now on, I am sure you will regain your search engine rankings.



We have unconfirmed reports Google has released the penguin 3.0 Update Today. I am personally seeing lot of movement with our client sites. Sites that lost ranking before last Penguin are coming back. It has been a year since we had an update and as promised Google is making sure this update is pleasant.

Penguin-Update-3.0If you see your sites coming back just comment here.

Good luck with the update, we all waited for over a year and we know things are already looking very good.

Penguin 3.0 Update LIVE and confirmed. – Update DATE 10/18/14 ,18th of October 2014.

Update: We are not the only one seeing movement, leading forums are noticing significant changes on their client sites. Forum discussion at webmaster world.

Update 2: Things look extremely positive. As I commented before this update will be good news for many site owners and webmasters and so far it is true. Many rankings are coming back especially for sites that lost ranking in October 4th 2013 update.

Update 3: Google has just started to roll out and many twitters and webmaster forums are reporting that the update is restricted to certain areas. We are confident this is not a weekend test. Google doesn’t release data in most of the data centers if the data is in testing phase. We have reports of people noticing significant ranking boost right from Australia to USA.

Update 4: Many blogs are yet to pick up this update or waiting to get confirmation from Google. As I stated this is an unofficially confirmed update. We cannot verify till a Google employee gives a statement.

Update 5: Many blogs, forums, social media has confirmed this is the much awaited penguin update. We are waiting for a long roll out here. This update is a year old and needs lot of iteration.

Update 6: Negative SEO had zero effect. Thanks Google. On the 6 sites we tested none of them lost any positions after this update. Finally Google has made sure suspicious links are discounted rather than penalized.

Update 7: All or most of the sites that made a full back link clean up of unnatural links, did not do any additional unnatural links recovered. Sites that continue to build unnatural links after October 4th 2013 update tanked.

Update 8: Google has learn’t to ignore suspicious links rather than penalize them which shows Google is really caring for third party damage to a site rankings. This is confirmed because none of the sites where we sent 100s of unnatural links lost positions. We pointed few 100 links to about 6 sites and all of them stayed on top.

Update 9: Some one tweeted there is confirmation from Google that this is indeed the Penguin update. But the tweet cannot be confirmed because the person who submitted this claim to get a Private message from a Google employee.

Update 10: Penguin update is staying in results. This is not test and here to stay but I feel there are more areas that will be stepped up in coming days.

Update 11:  Barry at has got internal confirmation from Google that, this is indeed the penguin update as confirmed by me and my team. We are still waiting for a Google employee to confirm whether this will be a long roll out like Panda 4.1.



I just read this interesting article about the upcoming Penguin update. Though it doesn’t have any new points on the update, predictions in that article are interesting.


Google keeps us guessing and waiting for this major update. All sort of conspiracy theories are evolving around this upcoming update. Too much expectations from Google. We just want them to rectify the damage they did to our site and client sites by mistake. We don’t care about the unnatural links penalty but we do care about how Google treats our future links some or most of them not under our control. But I see some interesting trend changes in the way Google communicates to webmasters about unnatural links. For example one of my client got penalized by something called impact links. This is a type of unnatural links penalty but Google tend to ignore the links rather than penalize the site. We are happy to see that but the problem Google still wants us to clean up those links. Why? We did not create most of the links they think we did but want us to clean up our backlink profile. This is the disaster with penguin algorithm it wants us to keep a clean backlink profile regardless of whether we have control over the links or not.

This Google page talks about impact links.

Here is the extract from the penalty page and the above page.

“Google has detected a pattern of unnatural artificial, deceptive, or manipulative links pointing to pages on this site. Some links may be outside of the webmaster’s control, so for this incident we are taking targeted action on the unnatural links instead of on the site’s ranking as a whole.

Sic Google you are wrong, please fix this in upcoming penguin update. If you suspect some links just ignore or don’t count them for ranking purpose. But don’t ask us to clean links not controlled by us. It is just waste of time and gives upper hand to our competitors. We don’t want manual action just because Google algorithm finds a pattern of unnatural links. After a year from last penguin update almost zero sites buy links. This is the best achievement from Google. Please maintain this stance rather than holding site owners and webmasters responsible for all the links pointing to their sites.


In latest webmaster hangout once again question was raised regarding the upcoming penguin update. Gary said last week there will be an update to penguin algorithm. He went on to say we can expect it as early as next week as far as everything goes along well in their testing. I think the major problem they are facing in testing is how to avoid any low quality unnatural links that look suspicious. When I say suspicious I mean how will Google tackle links posted by competitors or potential negative SEO attacks?

Latest Penguin Update
As usual we had similar answer in the latest webmaster hangout video from John Mueller. He is always ambiguous when it comes to answering penguin related questions. May be possibly, soon etc.

This is the question asked about the update.

” Is it true Google is in the final stages of releasing Penguin 3.0? Would you estimate its days/weeks away now?”

A: Yes we are working on it, I estimate it probably few weeks not too much longer. As I always say these kind of time-lines are really hard to judge because we do a lot of testing towards the end and we need to make sure everything is working right like before. So this is something we can’t promise now. If it is not released yet I believe whenever the right time comes it will be done. I know we are pretty close and lot of you are waiting for that, I know that so soon but not today.



Question: Any news about next Penguin update? Potential  release date? Something more about new factors? Monthly update and possible recovery? Everyone punished gets notification?

John: At the moment I don’t have anything to update you in regards to the penguin update but I know the engineers are working on something that should be available fairly anytime soon. I don’t have any specific time frame when it comes to penguin update so not today, not tomorrow, but I am guessing pretty soon certainly by the end of the year is my current guess. And when it comes to time frames about algorithms it is always a bit tricky when you are looking at something in Google’s web search because on the other hand we have to make all the changes but we need to go through these algorithms and the test data to make sure everything works fine and on the other hand we also have to kind of review the data that gets generated there and that it is actually useful data that is really providing useful additional information in search and not just something that is actually running but not have any real value in it. So that is something we are aware that is happening in the process well when working on the algorithm the data that seems to be created from the algorithm should be good. That is the reason we cannot say when it will actually be ready. So if everything goes well then the process happens that much faster  but if something goes wrong then we have to rethink oh we have a problem then it will take a week longer or a month longer that is all I can say.

Question: The problem here is some webmasters are saying it’s here, its live, so in this hangout can you be a bit more transparent can you give some more data, people are saying penguin is already out ?

Answer This is something that we do run test from time to time to see how things kind of react where we do live test, we do that a lot with features in web search for example that is one place where it is particularly visible where we will do on 1% of the traffic or maybe we do on more 3 or 4 or 5% of the traffic data with our updated algorithm and see if that really brings out measures that shows actually good change in that. So there are good possibility of things that people are expected to see from time to time whether it is specifically from the penguin algorithm or not is kind of uncertain because if you are looking at specific UI information in search you don’t really see what’s in that search.

Question: So just to be clear Gary said last week that if you disavowed something 2 weeks or so then those disavowed will not be included in the next coming penguin algorithm? He said that clearly don’t know whether you were there or not ?

Answer: I don’t know that is something that is currently looked at. I know you guys are waiting for this and I know that lot of people have put in a lot of effort actually to clean all these issues but there are probably other sites that never bother cleaning up and continue doing micro spam things and that is something those sites won’t probably see changes but I know there are really many well intention webmasters out there who notice the back links problems, solve the issue coming up and work to clean that up so we are happy to kind of get the word out when it really comes out.

Question: There is a clear feeling that the site won’t just come up cleaning things after penguin update, there are so many other things that might need to be looked at?

Answer: Well, you can never say that my site was ranking No.2 one year ago and this algorithm brought my site to No.10 and therefore after this algorithm is refreshed my site will be back at No.2. There are so many things that happens in web search over the year that you cannot really expect things to be exactly the same if you cleaned up this problem. Other thing is if you site is unnaturally ranking higher then there is a problem. If for example if your site has lot of unnatural backlinks and we have incorrectly counted that for your site and that time you might rank higher than now where if you remove all of those backlinks then you stay in current state, so that is something we also keep in mind but I know there are a lot of people who take a lot of time to clean things up and really improve the website in all possible manner . I am hoping that kind of sites will see good results and a nice jump in rankings. But as always said we have a lot of different algorithms and your effort that you are doing working to clean up your site you should have been seeing some of those algorithm change as well. But I know this is a tough topic so I will answer this question but I have other question about penguin update in line now. So let us move on to the next question




Once again we have speculation around major blogs like , and Google plus posts that Google will update Penguin algorithm next week. Also Gary illyes mentioned in his speech, if everything goes along well there will be an update next week. It is obvious Google is concerned their algorithm might damage sites that may be attacked with negative links. Even I am very concerned because we have a very high ranking client site attacked by about 1000 low quality links. Though we immediately identified the problem and disavowed links, we are worried Google might think otherwise. This is the problem with Google’s penguin algorithm it can potentially damage a site even with links that are not in site owner’s control.

Penguin update next week
We are keeping our fingers crossed hopefully this update will be pleasant surprise for everyone who owns a site and does genuine search engine optimization. I believe Sites affected in ranking are said to recover and Google is expected to reduce the liability of a site owner for the backlinks he has. Google is set to ignore links rather than penalize a site based on it’s links. This is for sites which has a good natural link profile and some Spam links.


In latest webmaster hangout John answered more questions related to Penguin update.


Latest webmaster hangout had lot more questions on penguin than I previously thought.

Google is feeling the pressure to bring out another penguin update as soon as possible. I am both nervous and excited because we still handle clients and I am concerned they might lose some positions. But this time we are clean with our links. People keep your sites and your search engine optimized client sites clean hopefully you don’t have to wait one more year if you lose your rankings. This time Google cannot allow competitors to damage our rankings.

First question:

Hello John, Wouldn’t it be better if instead of penalizing algorithms you invested resources in developing and launching rewarding algorithms that would dramatically increase rankings for good websites? ( something like an invested Panda / Penguin )
Essentially we do this, with things like Panda where we try to recognize higher quality content and show it appropriately in search and even with all our other algorithms if at some point we are recognizing lower quality content , we show it lower in search then we show the higher quality content a bit higher so it is always that we have two sides of an algorithm never the case that we penalize all these websites we demote them so nothing else shows up for these websites. But something else will be shown because we need to show something to the users so it is always that there are both sides for these algorithms and that is also something we include in our analysis on how the algorithms are doing and how we need to treat them and it’s not that we are removing sites from search but also we are replacing good sites we test to make sure they are the right kind of sites .
Second question:

Can you please go into a little more detail on why this Penguin refresh/cycle is almost 12 months old, compared to previous data refreshes of averaging 6 months?

I don’t have any specific details to share with you guys and I know the team is working on this so it’s something where we are trying to find a way to improve that overall and that takes more time, so sometimes things don’t move as quickly as you like but that is not that we are completely ignoring the feedback or ignoring these algorithms.


Third questions

Do you upload a disavow to help with a Penguin Update and if you do will you see any difference before the next refresh?

So uploading the disavow file will make those links essentially nofollow links and we don’t give value to them and if we do that we will take into consideration of links in that file. So it could have an affect on the penguin refresh if those links weren’t specifically tied to any penguin related problems it should have because of manual actions , if there is link based manual actions there in place for your site and it could have an affect on the penguin refresh and that if these links are successfully processed by then, so it is something that I wouldn’t relate for penguin but rather would clean up this old link issue that you know about or you don’t want to have associated with your site anymore.

Fourth Question:

Hi John,

Have you spoke to the Penguin team in the last month and have they updated you on any progress? You hinted that a refresh should happen by the end of 2014, is this still looking possible?

We do regularly speak to the search quality teams on these algorithms and we kind of catch up to see what we can do to help them and to see where they are so I am assuming that this is for sure that it will fall within the end of this year, but as always I cannot make any promises on these kind of things because things can change and maybe this is something we might come out next week if everything is ready by then or maybe it will take a little bit longer but I do know that these teams are working on these updates so hopefully we will have something for you guys soon.

Last question related to Penguin update.

Did Penguin 2.1 only look at website’s inbound link profile? Penguin 1 looked at onsite issues as well as links now Panda covers onsite was Penguin 2 and 2.1 changed to only look at link signals?

We called Penguin algorithm a web spam algorithm and it will take into account various webspam aspects so I don’t think it is fair to say that it only looks at links so that is something that we try to take in general. Panda on the other side is a quality algorithm where we try to focus more on the quality of the content and the quality of the website overall so those are essentially 2 different aspects sometimes they overlap a little bit sometimes there are web spam issues because the quality is so low, sometimes they are completely independent and so if it web spam issues and it is a really high quality website and obviously it won’t go along well and that’s hard for us to handly correctly because on one hand we want to discourage webspam aspects on the other hand we want to show great results in searches.


As expected yesterday’s webmaster hangout had question about Penguin update. A user asked

 Did Google use the disavow data on the last penguin update on 03/10/13 Penguin 2.1? And if Google runs Penguin again will the disavow data be used? 

John Mueller’s answer yes Google used disavow link files for penguin updates. Also he agreed that penguin hasn’t been updated for a long time and it is due anytime soon. Probably may be.

One more interesting question:

We were unable to recover our site since 2013 OCT and suspect penguin ALGO. We already removed all unnatural links. But still not revoke the penalty.

And the answer from Mueller.
Penguin update has not run quite sometime, you can recover if it could be picked up in near future. When the algorithm runs again sites will recover. But you need to see if the problem is not just about links. It could be contents too. So probably you need to check your contents to make sure other factors are not affecting your site.

One thing is very clear from this webmaster hangout video. Google agrees sites will recover only if Penguin update refresh happens. That is what we all were thinking and that is what is proved from Google’s own mouth.

Time to watch out is 30.20


Post penguin update new websites have sprung up like thorny shrubs. They are everywhere now. Most of the results are dominated with junk new sites. 5 page sites outrank 100 page quality sites. Courtesy penguin update. Reason all these junk new sites are ranking because they don’t have unnatural links. Or infact they don’t even have links when I last checked some of those sites. Sites with excellent quality information that users want to look are buried deep because they have few unnatural links. This is the scene in search engines now. If you don’t believe me check yourself. Check some medium competitive areas. Take top 30 sites and check their whois data. You will be ROFL. Many sites you will notice were registered post 2012. Some great sites registered before 10 years are nowhere to be found.

Penguin update likes new websites

This is the situation of Google now. All they want you is to build new sites and abandon old sites affected by penguin update. Already with billions of junk pages in Internet Google wants to add few million more junk sites. If that is what they want we will do that, thank you Google no worries.

I recommend everyone who lost ranking in penguin to abandon old sites and start new ones. This is from a SEO guy who has been looking and living in this Business for 10 years.

But wait we are about to see a new penguin update soon. So may be Google realizes their mistake and release some top quality sites and penalize real junk sites.

In my opinion all sites buying text links from good sites for search engine rankings should banned. Money power should never be allowed to influence results.